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Published: December 2nd 2019
We awoke and it was still raining cats and dogs. There was no sign of respite. The ever trusty Accuweather site suggested rain for another 120 minutes. It proved to be very wrong. I would like to fully enlighten you about our trip to Vercelli at this point, but the weather forecast for the small town half way to Milan made the Turin scenario look positively favourable. Vercelli held the appeal of Pro Vercelli 1892, the 5th most successful football teams in Italy in terms of Serie A titles. Seven. Yes, seven! OK so things had been on a downturn since 1922 when big city teams overtook them with their huge resources, but still pretty impressive. Napoli. Roma. Lazio. They all trail in the wake of the minnows from a small town in Piedmont and only Juventus, Inter, AC Milan and Genoa can hold their heads high. The game was due to kick off at 1500 hours on their artificial pitch, so whilst I was confident that the Serie C fixture would be played there was little appeal in standing on an open terrace in the forecast weather. The experience of the previous day showed a mere 10 minutes was enough
to be uncomfortably wet, so the best part of 2 hours didn't entice. As with most smaller Italian clubs, the price of a seat in the Main Stand under cover was disproportionate to the level of football on offer. The vote..... disappointing as it might be ....was Vercelli had to do without our custom. We are clearly getting old.
The good news of the day was that the transport strike was over..... at least for a few days. I am sure there will be another one soon. We could utilise our transport ticket, assuming it hadn't had another relapse. We laid out some plans over breakfast. The continental was the order of the day - no sausage and egg buffet here - and the locals were feasting on a variety of cakes. It makes you wonder how they get away with it from a weight perspective with their passion for looking good. The exceptions to the rule wandered in. Father and son attired in their finest Granata gear were obviously in town for for the big match. They set about reducing the cake mountain as a family mission. The size of them suggested it wasn't the first time. It
also proved that Torino stock extra large sizes in their shop. We didn't rush over breakfast in the vain hope that the rain would stop. The Man in the Middle donned his waterproof trousers and we were off.
We climbed on to the bridge across the railway line towards the old Fiat factory at Lingotto. The waterproof nature of my jacket repelled the water with great effect. The water ran off and soaked my trousers before we made the sanctuary of Lingotto. The previous day we had made a direct line towards the Agnelli Museum and the test track on the roof. Today, we lingered a while. The building now houses offices and a convention centre to one side. The main level was shopping and a food court. The rain pounded on to the glass roof in the atrium in the centre. The piles of sawdust soaking up water at the base of each roof support suggested there were plenty of leaks. A Lancia Delta in full rally livery was on display - the last car to roll off the factory production line. Perhaps this was the very car? We paused in the Juventus store. The Italian football giant
seems to have a slick retail arm with stores across the city. It was basically a tribute to CR7 - the boy from Madeira, now plying his trade in Turin. The price of shirts was the usual eye watering level you find on the continent, which actually makes you wonder who can afford them. The answer was probably not many, as we were the old customers browsing. 130€ for a football shirt, l ask you? Madness. If that was expensive enough, the Juventus Essential Cashmere Pullover rocks in at a staggering 300€. There is no clue, regarding why it would be classed as "essential". A product with their international market in mind. The standout piece of obscene merchandise was the Juventus Christmas jumper. At a snip of 55€, you could kit yourself out for the Christmas festivities and look like a right Charlie in the process. If they produce them, somebody must be buying them. They were not even reduced on Black Friday sale - I just checked out of interest. The Man in the Middle bought a pin badge as a pressie for one of his fellow Tricky Trees, There is a danger he might be confused with other
black and white types in his home city. On a positive note, It came in a nice little bag. I was tasked with keeping it dry inside my jacket. As a veteran of the mission to keep the 1994 FA Cup Final programmes dry on a similar sort of day, it was no problem to me. We headed back outside into the wet.
It was further 10 minutes walk to the Turin Motor Museum. The official title is the Museo Nazionale Dell'Automobile or National Motor Museum. It was originally started in 1932 and ranks as one of the oldest motor museums in the world. The first striking feature is the architecture of the building, which is a classic in its own right. The current home was built in 1960 down by the river, but the design looks more modern than that. A makeover was completed in 2011. If you are looking for a rainy day in Turin activity, this has to be first choice and the steady flow of families heading to the entrance suggests it was on quite a few lists. The other good thing is that it is actually open on a Monday - at leat until
2 pm - when most museums shut their doors. The adult ticket was 12€ and they have handy lockers for a refundable 1€ in which to store your wet coats. It was difficult to estimate the visiting numbers, but it felt spacious and uncrowded. The content of the museum is very much leaning towards the Italian car industry, but also houses classics from around the world. The 3 floors documented the history of the car from the very early models through to the Formila 1 cars of today. If you like Ferraris, you are very much in the right place. The collection houses a large selection of rare classics. The red Ferrari Dino seemed in slightly better condition than my Dinky toy from my childhood. I must look it out. Along with the Ferrari collection, the vintage Alfa Romeo racing cars were possibly the pick of the bunch. It was 12€ well spent and to a real car enthusiast, it be almost heaven. We delayed our return outside with a very reasonably priced cappuccino in the cafe. It was still hammering down, as we walked away to the Lingotto metro station.
The expensive motors in the museum should be
......no parking assistance required
very wary of dri ing the roads in Turin. The extensive rainfall had been busy creating the mother of all potholes in the surfaces. We poised and watched as car after car crashed into a huge crater just up from the Museum. There seemed no logical reason why it could not have been avoided, but most drivers seemed not to care a hoot. A warranty man watched on, thinking about all those claims that would come to nothing in the local Fiat dealerships. We caught the metro into the city centre and alighted near Porta Susa. The ticket opened the barrier, so our public transport experience was improving. A feature of central Turin is the covered portico walkway. The city architects had seen the possibility of dubious weather in close proximity to the Alps and street after street can be navigated completely under cover. Sadly, our next destination was not included. We cut up a side road in search of our target. A couple, who had been enjoying some retail therapy, returned to their car. Italians behind the wheel, see most obstacle in front of them as a challenge to overcome and so it is with a small parking place.
The couple examined the car in front and saw that it was touching their front bumper bar. At the rear, it was little better. The car was completely wedged in. They retreated to a nearby cafe in the hope that a driver either side returned to their vehicle sometime before next Tuesday. We found our destination within a few minutes.
The Museum Del Sindone - the Museum of the Shroud - is tucked away in a small church complex. I am not particularly religious in any shape or form, but we thought we would pay a visit. The real Shroud hasn't been seen for a few years now and is tucked away in a climate controlled vault inside the Duomo or Turin Cathedral. In case you are wondering if and when you can next see the real thing - it is in 2025. The last time it was on show, more than a million paid to view. The Shroud is a linen cloth in which Jesus Christ was supposed to have been wrapped on being taken down from the cross. Is it genuine? Who knows? What I can say, is that the staff at the Museum were very keen
to make sure we knew it was a copy before we coughed up the 8€ entry. A WhatsApp message winged it's way in from blighty. "It is an old tea towel. Save your money". I think we were looking at it more as a donation to a church in Turin staffed by friendly volunteers and as an opportunity to stay out of the rain. The Shroud was first recorded in the Middle Ages and found it's way to Turin. After a fire in 1532 and a few less than successful restoration attempts, proving anything is nigh on impossible. The Museum starts with a film about the history and is followed by a visit into the adjacent church, where a copy of the Shroud is mounted above the alter. The basement was then full of of all things Shroud related. The faithful remain convinced it is the genuine article and a religious icon.
We set off outside, once more keeping as far as possible to the covered porticos. We located the Torino FC store on the corner of the Royal Square. A more modest affair than the Juve one at Lingotto, it was a tri ute to the Granata colour.
A great many football shops on the continent underplay the pin badge as a saleable product. Torino could not be found guilty of this charge. As well as the current badge, there was one from all the Serie A title winning years. The price was premium ..... Italian made apparently. We added a title winning pin from 1976 to our collections. We headed down Via Roma towards a metro and base, but stumbled quite by accident on the fabulous Galeria San Frederico. The indoor shopping arcade was built in 1932 in art deco style. The arcade is built on a T plan with the eye focusing towards the hidden gem of the Cinema Lux within. The daily newspaper, La Stampa, had their head offices here and so too did Juventus between 1965 and 1985. There was no more time to linger. The big game awaited us this evening, but there was some drying out to do first.
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