There is a great hill top palace, Napoleon was here – the Corso Francia goes Roman Straight for Turin. There is a lovely old town, hilly and rambling, full of art galleries and bookshops with glossy interior decorating coffee-tablers. The palace is now a fine art gallery, Bruce Neuman is being shown. Couples come here to smooch-away the daylight.
“About sixe miles beyond Saint Georges, I saw a very memorable and admirable thing, if that be true that is reported of it. Rowland one of the twelve Peeres of France, and the sisters sonne of Charlemaine…did cleave an exceeding hard stone in the middest, of a foote and a halfe thicke, with his sword, which stone is there shewed as a monument of his puissance, and his picture in the wall hard by the stone on horse-backe brandishing his sword.
…In many places of Piemont I observed most delicate strawen hats, which both men and women use in most places of that Province, but especially the women. For those that the women weare are very prety, some of them having at least an hundred seames made with silke, and some pretily woven in the seames with silver, and many flowers, borders, and branches very curiously wrought in them, in so much that some of them were valued at two duckatons, that is, eleven shillings. (about a hundred pounds now http://www.measuringworth.com…)
“I rode from Rivole about three of the clocke in the afternoone that Sunday, and came to Turin which was four miles beyond it, about five of the clocke. I observed three things betwixt Rivole and Turin…I saw Rie reaped a little on this side Turin which is about sixe weeks sooner then we se to reape it in England. I saw infinite abundance of walnut-trees in that part of Piemont, and wonderfull plenty of corne, especially Rie, and a marvailous evennesse and plainenesse of the ground for a great space, and store of vines that grow not so low as in France, but upon high poles or railes, a great deale higher from the ground.
There rode in our company a merry Italian one Antonio, that vaunted he was lineally descended from the famous Marcus Antonius of Rome the Triumvir, and would oftentimes cheer us with his sociable conceit: courage, courage, le Diable est mort. That is, be merry, for the Devill is dead.”
In the bustling central piazza young and very old mix and watch the electrical storms loom [I’ve had one every day since Paris, May 23: in northern France at 4, further south between 5 and 6; here it arrives at 6.15]. Anyway, so far so good.
But Rivoli does not have a hotel. The only one is two miles away, betwixt Rivoli and Alpignano, where the Turin train stops. The hotel, let’s call it The Hotel, is brand new, marble-floored, fancy, furniture is Ikea-style copies of famous designs. In white, red and modernist black. Around the corner is a sister bar/restaurant with cocktail glasses and concoctions available. There are no other guests; the bar has two customers.
My view is a barracks. Perhaps this the WAGs hotel, for those post-match get togethers? No sign. In the morning the hotel card-reader is illiterate. It is a four mile return march to get the cash to pay. And I’ve been woken by a morning “Revallee” of the imperial Italian march. No soldiers emerge: the only life I’ve seen are rats running between the store rooms.
After Rousseau, Shrouds and Trompe L’oeuil, I’m ready for smoke and mirrors, but determined not to fall into stereotype. But I’m thinking that I smell a whiff not of rat, but of that Italian “myth” and Interpol (of Lyon) reality: money laundering. I’ve seen these places before in Eastern Europe” spotless, perfect and utterly pointless. There are many illerate bank ATMs on my walk back through Rivoli, until I find a more universal brand.
At the “Internet Point”, finally found (I’m walking Tom distances these days, just to find technology) I’m given a long lecture about the “war on terror” and the internet. [All will be explained in Turin]. I leave, walk three miles back to Alpignano, because none of the tabacs have bus tickets (which is curious) – it is the first time I’ve gone backwards, a symbol, slight as it might seem, that has a little “haunting”.
Rivoli: a nice town. I just wonder who owns it. This may be rude, but a tourist destination, as this is, usually has – like – accommodation.
Thus much of Rude Rivoli.