Kaffee Klatch

Little of this, little of that...from an avid coffee lover and wanna-be world traveler.

Location: Houston, Texas, United States

Would knit all day if my fanny and my hubby didn't get so sore.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Giornali Torino Part Uno

April 14 - Torino

Up early and had breakfast with Ted in the terrazzo...croissants, brioche, yogurt, fruit, juices, and of course cappucino. Ted dropped me at the train station on his way in to work. Bought a round-trip to Torino. I tried to also buy 2 tickets to Florence for the weekend, but they were trying to tell me the return train was full. I asked for "otre horas", but no luck. Not only is it a school holiday, but it's also Easter weekend.

The train to Torino was 40 minutes late, but I finally got there around 10:45 The drive there was much prettier than from Milano. It helps that you're heading toward the alps. All of a sudden the light went on that Piedmont (the name of that region) means, literally, foothills.

Torino was the cleanest and prettiest city on the entire tour, possibly because of the 2006 Winter Olympic games held 2 months before. And maybe partly because it was the home of the Savoy kings from the 10th to the 19th century when the unification of Italy began. It was also much easier to get around since the city was originally laid out by the Romans in a square grid. From the train station, you just walk north straight on Via Roma through the shopping galleria (not much I could afford, but fun to look). After about 5 blocks, I came to the huge Piazza San Carlo where the twin churches of San Carlo and Santa Cristina occupy the south entrance. IT's one of the largest piazzas I saw with only a statue in the center to break it up.

Then I continued north a few more blocks to the Piazza Castello. The original 12th century castle was renovated and given a new facade somewhere around 18th century, I think. Then a few steps to the north the Palazzo Reale (royal palace) is reminiscent of the Louvre in bright white marble with welcoming spacious wings on either side. The gates are adorned with beautiful filigreed ironwork with sculptured faces.

Around the left wing, I found the Chiesa (church) di San Lorenzo and the Capella della Sacre Sindone (chapel of the Holy Shroud of Turin). The outside is more simple than many Italian churches, it was very beautiful and tasteful. The duomo, or cuppola, of the chapel was being renovated and was surrounded by a drawn image of the real thing. The bas-reliefs in the archways above the entrance doors are very impressive. Inside was a copy of DaVinci's Last Supper on the back wall. The chapel (at the top of the cross-shaped cathedral) was being renovated and was covered by a drawn image of the chapel.

Though I find it difficult to believe that the shroud is authentic, it certainly inspires a lot of people to worship and bring to life the miracle of Jesus' resurrection. So I reflected, prayed, and left some Euros in the coffer for the restorations.

Going back outside, I went around by the campanile (tower) and noticed a glass pyramid, similar to but much smaller than the one at the Louvre. Within was the results of an excavation...a very old and beautiful mosaic floor entitled "Map of the World". They had dug it up & pieced together what was remaining and raised it to ground level above its original location.

Just to the left of the campanile, about 2 stories below street level is a huge excavation site of a Roman ampitheatre. The stage appeared to have been right under what was a palace and is now the Museo di Antichita (Antiquities). Across the street, I marveled at the Roman Porta Palatina which has remained standing since 28 AD. I was quite surprised by the color of the red brick used in the gate. I think of Roman architecture being made with stone, but I guess the architects used local "ingredients". But it wasn't just a simple gate or wall...it had two rows of archways above the larger gates at ground level

By this time, it was 1:30 in the afternoon and I was famished. I kept thinking, I'll see one more site and then eat. But it was just boom, boom, boom...one thing right next to the other. In fact, I really wanted to visit the Museo di Antichita, but just had to eat first. But this was my first meal on my own in a strange country. I was trying to eat light lunches so I could eat a heavier dinner at night.

I bet I walked up to 20 cafes, bars, & ristorantes (one of which served horsemeat!) before I finally found one with simple sandwiches that I thought I could order with my spattered Italian. I bought a proscuitto and mozzarella panini and aqua naturale por la via (to go). I walked back to the Piazza and sat on the steps at the base of a statue to eat and watch the crowds stroll by.


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