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lunedì 24 ottobre 2011

Weekend in Turin

I have spent many weekends in this beautiful and lively city but I will start by describing my last one. Past the times when Turin was a grey industrial city where people would go for business, it has become one of the most popular destinations in Italy even amongst foreign travellers who make extra room in their journey, after the usual triangle Rome- Florence- Venice (sometimes extended to Milan for shopping.) Turin has known a sort of Reinassance period years ago for city development, music, culture, art and design. It has often been chosen as a set for many Italian movies and music videos expecially for Subsonica one of my favourite Italian bands. After the winter Olympics in 2006 the city has been boosting with life and art happenings. Let's not forget Turin (the whole Piedmont actually) is also one of the best places where to take a wine and food holiday and is the home of Slow Food " an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement. The movement has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 132 countries. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products." (from Wikipedia)(even if the actual movement was born in Bra a little town close to Cuneo in the same region) : As I said I have spent many weekends in Turin since I have a few very good friends there , who are also very good guides and it takes really nothing to get there from Milan now with high speed trains. (Alta Velocità) The train may be very expensive though : 34 euros one way. As an alternative one can take the slowest train which takes almost two hours and it's much cheaper. (10 euros) The first thing to do once you get there is- in my opinion- drink a cup of coffee, of hot cocoa or of bicerin a combination of the two with some milk on top (delicious) to take the necessary energy to go and see the Cinema Museum in one of the oldest buldings in Turin which is also its symbol :the impressive Mole Antonelliana.
Museo del Cinema is one of the best museums I have ever seen and the setting is amazing but you have to go there to understand: everybody should try the thrill of taking the elevator which takes you to the top of the building in the middle of it, only surrounded by the void and of course the whole museum developed in height on all sides. I can't really describe in words: you really have to see it for yourself. After that, why not taking a stroll down the beautiful historic center ? Absolutely. While walking around take a look at all the magnificent buildings, which witness the history of this ancient capital and all of its culture.
It's probably time for lunch right? There are so many places where to go that you just have to pick and choose but let me just talk about the places where I went on my last trip. For a quick bite why not trying a fast food ? In Turin ? No way. More of an undercovered one ... Exactly: it's no fast food although it mght look like one but it's actually a high quality slowish food place masked as a Mac Donald kind of place. Ovbiously it's a place for meat eaters so I don't really qualify but there are tasty alternatives such as tomini (typical cheese with truffle oil or cherry tomatoes and arugula, or pears or chili). Originally it was called Mac Bun but now it's M*** Bun....
In the afternoon you can just wander around the streets and then maybe stop for some tea and some (very expensive ) shopping at Atelier Bistro Liù. For ladies only
And then is time for a drink before going to dinner. One of the best areas where to go is the " Quadrilatero Romano" which is the center of the historic center with the highest number of monuments and of course by bars and restaurants with an interesting crowd. Check out their website: Amongst the places my friends go to, one in particular is their favourite. It's called Freevolo and although it may seem a deja vu, in many other places in Italy or better in Europe, it has a certain something that keeps attracting people.
After that to try a different angle of the city one could try San Salvario where my friend took me last time, a working class neighbourhood which is becoming popular right now, and it's happening with restaurants and bars as well. My friend chose Bottega Baretti a very charming industrial -like place The specialty is pizza but as a very demanding Neapolitan I didn't taste it. I can be very fussy when it comes to pizza. That's a good ambiance, a great atmosphere and ... a lot of meat which was a little tricky for me . Not suitable for vegetarians then? No I would say you can easily get around it: bruschette , potatoes with cheese and chives and vegetables. Overall the place is really worth it and the service is very easy going and good . A lot of smiles : just the way I like it.
The next day if on a Sunday I would strongly suggest two things: 1) take a walk in the Borgo Po neighbourhood near the church of the Gran Madre, where of course you can visit the church but you can also wander around the stalls at the vintage market.You might find good bargains there although the prices are adapted to those of the very expensive boutiques which surround the market itself.. Well, it's also nice just to look and while you're at it, get a coffee at Caffetteria Regina where they have wonderful wonderful pastries...
2) Go and visit Officine Grandi Riparazioni (OGR) a stunning museum set in a 200.000 square meters 17th century former repair shop for trains and locomotives. There will be a very interesting exhibition still on for a short while about the process of Italy's unification up to now, passing through the two world wars, the fascist regime, the immigration to the new continent etc. Until November only and I strongly reccommend it for Italians. However, even if you go when the exhibition will be finished you should still take a look at the complex and maybe have a drink (when it's warm) in the garden or a meal at the restaurant inside. You won't regret it. Believe me.
Well it's time to go back but Turin has a lot more to offer and is continuously changing and bursting with life and novelty so I know I will be back soon, and this time maybe I'll meet also the lead singer of Subsonica who, I have always had the hots for even if know very well I have long ago passed the age of being a groupie. Well let's say it's just an excuse that will keep me going back. In the meantime I'll listen to their music and plan my next weekend in Turin.