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Published: December 9th 2019
I realise you can't predict weather with any accuracy, but Turin was now beginning to wear our patience. It had now been raining constantly since Friday evening. We awoke Monday morning and it was still as bad as ever. Will there by an end in sight? The forecast suggested a positive outcome, but then we had seen previous lights at the end of the tunnel. Breakfast was quiet. The weekend visitors and people in town for the Turino match had now departed and it was just a few business types and the random English football tourists looking for sunshine. We followed our usual route towards the Lingotto centre. There was another Italian Job on the cards.
The first movie location today was the Palavela down near the Motor Museum and the river. The strangely shaped, futuristic indoor arena featured in the 1969 film. The curved red roof was like a launchpad for the Mini Coopers. The arena found a new purpose for the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics, where I believe it was used for the figure skating. A small plaque details the fact on the edge of the complex. Today, it was very locked up and closed. There was no
apparent action and no sign of it being used a public skating venue for the Turin public. The car park looked like a coach park for Flixbus. I photographed a newer Mini Cooper parked on the roadside. It seemed appropriate. We walked back to the metro by Lingotto and used our 3 day pass before it expired, after having paused for a while to watch hammer the living dayligh in yet another huge pothole that therain had excavated. The metro was operating normally. Monday strikes are not in vogue.
The big news as we alighted at Porta Nuova was that the rain was petering out! Hurrah. The camera could make more of an appearance now. We were now well versed in the subway tunnels at the station, which was another sequence from the Italian Job film. The metro was refurbished for the Winter Olympics, so it is beyond recognition. We encountered no speeding Minis, as we exited. We headed to the River Po. The 64 hours of rain plus the melt waters running from the alpine foothills had swelled it to a raging torrent. There are a lot of arches on the city side of the embankment. In the
summer, I read that it was the centre of Turin nightlife and the arches transformed into bars and cafes. The slip road down to the embankment was taped off with red and white warnings. Barriers were in position. The lower section was probably under 3 feet of water. The arches were presumably also engulfed. There would be no bars for the forseeable. The river swelled against the arches of the Ponte Vittori Veneto Bridge. Trees and wood debris snagged and pushed the water levels higher. We headed across the bridge. It had proved stronger than the A6 Autostrada bridge on the way to Savona. Old is best.
We were back on movie location. The Church of the Gran Madre on the far side of the bridge is possibly the famous scene. Mini Coopers racing down the steps at the front entrance. The scene is pretty much unchanged from the 1960s, save for the railings now at the base. The church itself has quite a spectacular internal roof. They had turned up the heating inside. It was almost unbearable, so after a quick photograph we were back outside. The Monte Dei Cappuccino looms over the location. It was only a
10 minute walk up to the Church of Santa Maria for the view point over the city. The trees were showing their full autumn splendour on the hillsides surrounding the Monte. There were some expensive looking apartments on the adjacent streets. The National Museum was closed being a Monday. The groups of people today were all here to lookout over the city. The Man in the Middle was commissioned to take a photograph of a group of girls posing with the city backdrop. They balanced precariously on the wall. It was a long way down. The group shot sorted, they set about some more poses. The Man in the Middle dubbed one, Sade, on account of her hairstyle in a tight bun. She was "No ordinary girl"! The eyes were drawn towards the Mole Antonelliana with its spire rising high above every other building. This mole certainly doesn't burrow. The Mole is now the National Museum of Cinema, but started life as a synagogue. The building was started in 1863, when Turin was still the capital city. It was decided that a building fit for a state capital should be constructed. The constructioneas completedin 1889 and was massively overbudget. Meanwhile
, the state capital had long since departed for Florence in 1864. The building is on the Italian 2€ coins and was a logo for the 2006 Winter Olympics. The Alps were visible in the background. It was the first time we had seen them since arriving. The tower at Lingotto was also visible, as well as the Basilica of Superga. This was the scene of the Torino FC air disaster. The Church of Santa Maria was a surprise find. The internal roof was more impressive than that of Gran Madre below.
We walked back across the River Po into the city centre and off down a few side streets in search of a value coffee. Turin is home to Lavazza, probably one of the more famous Italian brands. The headquarters is in the north of the city. We opted for the first cafe that displayed their symbol. In a country where bargains are hard to find in the post Lira world, a cappuccino comes in at 1:30€. I scanned the Gazetta del la Sport with my limited Italian, which has to be the finest sports newspaper going. We managed to stay off the beer by having another nearer
to the Mole. In a student cafe within a stone's throw of the tourist trap, value was also to be found. A short walk led us back towards the Torino FC retail emporium where we acquired our own badges and on to the Royal Palace. You don't think of Turin as being at the centre of Royal courts, but this Palace was the base of the Dukes of Savoy. The Palace was built in the 1640s. We wandered through into the grounds at the back. The inside was open at a price, but we continued with our exterior viewing. The Chpael of the Holy Shroud is attached - built you guesses it to house the Shroud in circa 1690. The Palatine Gate stands behind the Royal Palace. It was the Roman entrance to the city and is a better preserved piece of Roman architecture. We walked through and into the expansive Piazza della Republica. The market centre of Turin showed another side to Italy - here away from the posh shops selling Armani, Gucci and Prada was an unkempt street market. The stall holders were packing up for the day. The privileged had a carefully packed van and others loaded
.... the view from Monte Dei Cappuccino, Turin
up on to a cart. Clothes and products were piled high. There was another location off the Piazza, which was meant to feature in the Itslian Job. The Galleria Umberto didn't make the cut, because one of the shop owners would not agree to the compensation for the loss of trade whilst the Mini Coopers sped through. On the site of a former hospital, it opened in 1890 and was one the premier shopping malls in Turin. Today the covered canopy still looks well, but the money has disappeared elsewhere.
A large group of police loutered near the City Hall. It was a protest by teachers, who were on strike for whatever reason. The protest was small and the police presence looked disproportionate. We moved on to Via Garibaldi, which appealed as to the Forest contingent of one in the group. It is one of pedestrianised shopping areas with the mainstream big name brand retailers in evidence. The sun was beginning to peek through by now, so we took up residence at the tables outside a cafe for a refreshment. The cafe was run by an old couple and had clearly seen better days. The old guy wandered off
for a fag down the street, leaving the old lady on her own. We ordered another beer and who should show up, but our romany friends from the attempted bar scam yesterday afternoon. They spied the little old lady on her own and vulnerable and moved inside. In the interests of public spiritedness, we made ourselves more visible by taking it in turns to go inside. One stayed outside by the door, the other staring at the unscrupulous pair inside. The bodies counted and the pair were rebuffed by the old lady, who effectively refused to serve them. They left empty handed, unsure of the two hired hands. We returned to our beer with the good deed of the day accomplished.
After a brief wander around the old streets nearby, we caught a tram nearer to base. A chance toilet break in the first available bar after we alighted brought us in contact with the Turin ritual of Aperitivo. The drinks were more expensive than we had been paying, but needs must when the bladder dictates. Aperitivo started in the 18th century, when the general idea was that snacks accompanied your drink .... usually a martini or vermouth. The
drink type now doesn't seem to matter. You pay a bit more and plates of cheese or ham or other nibbles keep appearing. We were left not really needing an evening meal of any magnitude. Turin was looking good now that it had stopped raining. A Self Preservation Society.
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