Olympics 2006, but not a tourist mecca yet
My observations of Turin.
“I am sory I can speake so little of so flourishing and beautifull a citie. For during that little time that I was in the citie, I found so great a distemperature in my body, by drinking the sweete wines of Piemont, that caused a grievous inflammation in my face and hands; so that I had but a small desire to walke much abroad in the streets. Therefore I would advise all English-men that intend to travellh into Italy, to mingle their wine with water as some as they come into the country, for feare of ensuing inconveniences, and let them follow the good counsel that learned Alciat giveth…
“…maybe I’ll try a little Freddy…”
Red, but no Ferrari
“…Surely I observed it to be a faire city, having many stately buildings, both publique and private: it is the capitall citie of Piemont, situate in a plaine, being in the East incompassed with hills, well walled, and hath foure faire gates, and a very strong citadel at the west end, exceeding well furnished with munition, wherein there are five hundred pieces of ordinance.”
“Is he a romantic, a poet, like Shelley?”
“The rhymer of the Ancient Mariner.”
“Or a junkie, like Peter Docherty?”
“Whatever, he looks like a professor, I can’t talk to him.”
Do you speak English?
What are you doing in this square at 11.30 on a Saturday night? Turin seems very quiet.
“It is holiday time, the students have all gone away.”
“The sea-side. The beach.”
And? “It is very early, the Muri [Murazzi, the riverside bar and club region] doesn’t get going for a few hours.”
So why are you here?
“We are waiting for the concert to finish, the Music Academy. We have friends there. On Wednesday our exams start.”
“One of them is ‘English’. So it’s good to practice.”
“You have to pass ‘English” now, it’s the most important language in the world.”
“London? I love London, it is the biggest city in the world. I love that. So huge you can get lost all the time and something turns up. I’ve been many times, I want to live there. I love England, last year I spent a month in the ‘Lizard’ in Cornwall. Do you know it? I worked in a Fish and Chip shop. It was the best.”
“Amsterdam next month for fun, fun, fun. And then after that, Greece for sun, sun, sun.”
“I’m going to Tunisia, and then in October to Brasil. My father’s friend has bought a house there, I think that will be cool.”
“Why Italy when we have our whole lives to see it with our children? While we have the chance we have to see the world: Brasil, the desert, Holland. But London and England most of all. It is so exciting there. Anything can happen.”
We always want to be somewhere else…
“…The duke’s palace seemed to be faire, but I was not in it, onely I saw it without…”
The Cafe Mulassano, which first opened one hundred years ago, is said to be the place where the sandwich was first imported – from America, in 1927.
The Turin Shroud was moved from Chambéry to Turin in 1578. The next scheduled showing is for 2025.
The new Fiat advert is called “The Italian Job re-mixed.” Like many remixes it misses the point. The Italian Job is about Englishness, Minis and ambiguous, “camp”, sensibilities. Turin is just the backdrop – and the mountain end-game, of course. Tom would have liked that…
The woman sitting next to me is wearing a t-shirt with an image of a cow across her breasts. Underneath the cow are the words: “Self Service Milk.” She arrives by motorbike to the Piazzo Via Venetto with her boyfriend and clings to him all evening. Confident, but not confident enough…
Turin is a very clingy city; despite all the flesh being present and correct here, it feels dowdy; this is a city trying desperately to be as sophisticated as Rome or Milan, but not really knowing the steps.
Tim Moore recounts how James Boswell got Once, Twice, Three times a Lady in Turin: a Countess, a Noblewoman, and an ‘oldish lady’ in a theatre box. Sex was a big preoccupation with many of the Grand Tourists. It’s easy – but not with our Tom – to see aesthetic desire as the mask for just getting laid.
“I rode in coach from Turin on Monday, being the 13th of June about two of the clocke in the afternoone, and came to a Parish called Sian in Piemont about half an houre after eight of the clocke in the evening. This Sian was twenty miles beyond Turin.
“…the vineyards in Piemont and Lombardy doe much differ in growth from the French vineyards. For the vines in most of these places doe grow upon trees that are very orderly set in fine rankes about halfe a mile or a mile long in some places. …
“Betwixt Turin and Sian I was transported over a Ferrie. This Italian transporting was done after a pretty manner. For whereas this is a great long rope that reacheth over the river, tied by certaine instruments on both sides thereof, assoone as the horses and passengers are put into the boat, one of the boarmen that tarryeth at land turned by a certaine wheele about by meanes of that rope, by the motion of which wheele the boat is driven on to the other banke.