Having slept in until 9, I wake feeling half human and decide that before I can justifiably consume copious amounts of red wine again, I should go exploring. On discovering that the public transport system is on strike for 24 hours, the old Fiat factory and Automotive museum are immediately deferred to tomorrow, and I opt to explore the city on foot.
Turin is stunning. Fact. It’s no secret that I love Italy, as much in the winter as the summer, as much in the countryside as the cities, as much in the hills as on the beach. But I’m close to suggesting that this is my favourite place so far. This could be because I didn’t know what to expect, or have time to even think much about it.
The fun started when I was at home at the weekend, and mum commented that I’ve been on British soil for a while, am I ok? She’s right; my passport hasn’t felt the thump of a border control stamp for three whole months! What am I playing at? Right. I need to find a quick jaunt somewhere soon. So when the Major and the Minor (my grandparents) deposited ‘a little something’ in my bank account for Christmas, just enough to cover return flights to Europe, I was straight onto the Internet to find something suitable.
So why Turin?
One of my brother’s favourite films was The Italian Job – not the one with Charlize Theron (although he ‘wouldn’t have thrown her out of bed for farting’ I’m sure) but the original. A few years back, on what would’ve been his 30th birthday, I played with the idea of hiring three minis and driving across to Turin as a fundraiser. But the plan never came off and, until now, I’d still never been here. Now I’m starting to wonder why the hell I waited so long?!
The plan of the city centre is pretty regular – a grid pattern. But because the city is surrounded by mountains, every street you look down is adorned with beautiful facades, and looks towards snow-capped mountains at the end. And there’s a river (the Po) which means bridges! (I have a thing for bridges… another story…) so having explored the Palazzo Madame and seen the world’s biggest advent calendar, I wander down via Po towards the river. The street itself is little to write about, until I get to Vittorio Veneto and literally gasp for breath. The road opens out into a large palazzo, with arches down both sides and a view at the other end worthy of a postcard. It’s a sunny day, and the sun is shining on the hill and palace on the far banks of the river on front of me, giving the distant view something of a haze, but against a flawless blue sky, it’s one of the most spectacular views I’ve seen. My only disappointment is the amount of overhead cables – there are trams in Turin, but even the streetlights have cables crossing to them. I don’t know if they’re just not got to the point of putting power lines underground, or chosen not to? For me it spoils it a little, but the buildings’ beauty is just so impressive that my disappointment is short-lived.
At this point, I could easily take pictures of the river and bridges all day. But instead I decide to go on a little mission to find places where Simon’s film was shot… the weir, the church steps, the roof of the old Fiat factory… I can hear him quoting Michael Caine all day! He is most definitely with me on this one, that’s for sure!