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Turin is not a very nice city

The Entire Pizza. The Entire Pizza.

A reaction (not quite knee-jerk) to an eavesdropped comment about one of my favorite cities.

I travel by train quite a lot through Italy. They're always full of people talking, and I discovered I can easily tune out conversation even if they're loud teenagers, because it's in Italian. I realized this on my way home to Turin from the Alba Truffle Fair when, a level above me on the train, a girl was talking in English. I couldn't help but eavesdrop. When I suddenly hear English spoken in American accents, I can't be held responsible for this. Sorry.

I actually don't remember about 90% of what they said because I was falling asleep, but two sentences stick in my mind word for word. She said, "Turin is an industrial city. Turin is not a very nice city."

I wanted to say, "But it's a very nice city! What do you know and what do you mean by "not very nice," anyway?"

I love Turin and its kilometers of porticoed sidewalks (the most in Europe, with 18 km and 12 km unbroken), the winding, Florence-like Quadrilatero section and the straight, wide streets in the historical center. The Alps on the horizon, beautiful buildings.

It has some of my favorite museums ever, like the Egyptian Museum (second biggest in the world right after the one in Cairo) or the Pietro Micca Museum (underground!); it has a large selection of excellent restaurants, and burgeoning local food shops coming to life all over the place. Cultural events are held all the time, both exclusively hosted or free, national, or international (Turin Jazz Festival, Slow Food's Salone del Gusto, Cioccolatò).

Turin Jazz Festival 2013

It's got the best damn gelato I've ever had. That means more to me than you can imagine. What's more, new gelaterie (gelato shops) are popping up all the time -- all-natural, organic, 100% Piemontese, you-name-it, and they are all good.

The metro is quiet, clean, regular -- just one line, yes, but it's just right. Turin is very liveable, with lots of green spaces and parks. And the Alpine horizon on a clear day stands out in the sun, inspiring, reminding this WV girl that she's not trapped in concrete.

But my favorite thing to do in Turin is to walk the streets, usually starting at Piazza XVII Dicembre to pass the dark angel statue and obelisk under which are, apparently, the gates of hell (Turin is known for its legends, superstitions, ghost stories, and black magic), meandering down Via Garibaldi. There are shops, cafes, talented local street musicians (I recently heard Karin and the Ugly Barnacles), jewelry makers, and an interesting cast of characters that come in every city.


Turin has an atmosphere that reminds me of Prague, perhaps, or sections of Florence or even an undefined city in France. I can't quite put my finger on it, because it is also undeniably an Italian city.

Okay, so yes, there's industry. But it's outside of the city and probably brings in a lot of the city's wealth. You're not going to walk by smokestacks and warehouses in the center.

What I want to know is, where did that girl go in her time spent in Turin?
If it's not a very nice city, it's culturally rich, gastronomically satisfying, mysterious, beautiful, lively.
I'd rather have all that than just plain "nice," anyway.
Ultima modifica: Lunedì, 18 Novembre 2013 15:17
Diana Zahuranec

I love Piemonte’s food and wine, the city of Turin, and my proximity to the Alps! My goal and challenge is to see as much of the region as possible using public transportation, but if you have a car I’d appreciate the ride. My intro to wine was at the Univ. of Gastronomic Sciences, and I love visiting family wineries, plus discovering Piemonte's craft beer scene. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite wine, but Nebbiolo never disappoints (from Barbaresco to Ghemme). As for beer, the Birrificio San Michele makes an incredible beechwood smoked brew.

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