Sweltering in foreign parts
Ian had been in Savona on business, and suggested that I meet him for the weekend.
I used the airport bus and public transport to make my way to Lingotto. This lone cooling tower was part of an environment park towards the north of the city.
There are still many reminders of the recent Winter Olympics. But now Turin is advertising itself as the World Book capital (together with Rome) for 2006-7, hence the red poles apparently growing out of the Olympic symbol's head.
The trip was slow due to congestion, and with a temperature of about 30 C and high humidity many locals were looking uncomfortable and fanning themselves.
I checked in at the wrong part of the hotel, and the receptionist insisted on sending for a car to take me round the building to the other entrance. It was only about 200 m away. So I arrived in style in an Alfa Romeo, and made my way through this tunnel to our room.
Ian arrived at about 20.00, and we went looking for some supper. We found a place with a 10€ menu, but it had no tables left. We then opted for a newly opened pizza place over the road. Unfortunately, I can't show their red burnished plaster walls that looked like satin.
Saturday morning found us looking for local markets. This is my favourite way to explore a city. Outside the Piazza della Repubblica market we saw gypsy skirts:
Inside, we saw memorable aubergines:
In another market hall we saw fish:
We headed off to the Superga basilica enjoying the views from the rack railway. At trh tpo we luched at the terminus cafe, and watched as a terrific thunderstorm made its way over the city centre. The thunderstorm went on for over an hour, making walking in sandals a bit perrilous.
Our next destination was the ice cream festival in the Piazzo Carlo Alberto. This ran on Friday and Saturday from 14.00 - 24.00. Here about ten tents housed displays of interest to ice cream makers. There was a separate tent for buying the 1€ ticket that allowed you to sample two of the ice creams. All of this was made more difficult as it was still pouring with rain and the cobbled square was very wet in places. The ice cream was well worth it, and we could sample the wares of about a dozen different gelaterias.
Back home and dried out, we walked around the Lingotto neighborhood looking for food. We ended up at the Ristorante Mina . Mina welcomed us, and our waiter, Mario, took excellent care of us. He served our meals with just a sample of each other's dish on the plate. Thus we were spared waving our plates around to try all the food. The desserts were halved between the two plates.
Sunday afternoon saw us taking the train out to the nearby town of Chieri in order to trace some of the Piedmont textile industry. Like central Brittany which we visited at the end of May, the Turin area was formerly known for silk, linen, hemp , and latterly cotton. My researches on the European Textile Network website had shown that there is a textile museum there. What I didn't know were the restrictive opening hours. Groups of more than 10 persons can write to apply for a visit.
Realising that we had missed out, we peered into the only windows available and saw a couple of looms and a spinning wheel. The building was a former convent that had been used as a spinning mill from 1809 until the 1960's. Now the long convent buildings house the museum and the inevitable martial arts studio. (Former textile mills here in Long Eaton and Darley Abbey have been used in the same way.)
As we looked around the duomo, we were approached by a man. He turned out to be an unofficial tourist guide. After a brief chat with the priest, he asked our nationality and gave us the textile museum leaflet. (The town tourist office had been open on the Saturday, and wouldn't be open again for a week.) He then took us round behind the main altar and showed us the carved choir stalls and vestigial wall paintings. We just about understood his Italian.
Before flying home on Monday we made it to a yarn shop.
We had passed it on a tram trip on the Sunday. As Ian's 3€ 24 hour public transport ticket was about to expire my visit was for about 5 minutes.
In that time I found some 75 % linen/25 % mixed fibres knitting yarn at a bargain price.
Turin really is a great city for a short break, but perhaps better when it is not so hot!