Friday, 22 September (Day Five)
Today there were three things on the list:
- Book factory tours at the Torino Info
- Find out about and buy a monthly transport pass
- Go to Rosso Piccante in the evening
We walked past the archaeological museum, which is very close by the Porta Palatina in a complex called I Palazzi Reale. I noticed that the wall beside the towers was broken where the road crossed it and started again on the museum side. The structure is quite interesting, with a thin layer of red brick, a large layer of stones, another thin layer of red brick, repeated. I wonder if the wall is the same era as the gate. I also thought about the Romans using basically the same red bricks as we use today! There are some ruins inside the museum grounds – it might be a small amphitheatre but a semi-circular design anyway, not very large with a few tiers. I’ll have to find out what the ruins are – there were quite a few people gathered at ground level looking down, so no chance to read any signage. There’s also a tall tower open for climbing. I will try to do this one day if the entry is free, one day when I don’t have as much walking ahead or late in a day when I’ve been doing things at home. The royal palace is a museum and with no sovereign in Italy it’s open and not inaccessible like Buckingham Palace. It has a large courtyard inlaid with stones that form a pattern – must find out what it looks like from above – a royal or Torinese symbol perhaps?
Wandering into a small caffe area I was suddenly struck with a thought. There was no rush. I could do this any time I wanted. This was a very happy thought. Best to take advantage though or the holiday would end and ‘no rush’ will have turned into ‘no time.’
We needed some toiletries and I’d been thinking how much I missed Shoppers Drug Mart, even Superdrug or Boots! Pharmacies in Italy seem to be only the very serious or very specialised – perfume only, beauty only…where do people buy shampoo and hand soap? Apparently, the supermarket is the best choice but I’ll keep exploring that. We happened on a shop called Ipersoap which seemed to promise something so in we went. The shelves are full of bargain cleaning products – from hand soap to shower gel to dish detergent to floor cleaners. We even knew a few of the brands – bingo!
The Torino Info is in the large square of Piazza Castello. Its always busy. We wanted to book some tours and Krish began the process of doing this. Despite the servers speaking many languages with apparent ease, it’s not the easiest thing to do. I wish it were only about language. There are so many things that we need to understand, things that are done or thought of differently than we are used to. In the end, after one false start, we get the tours booked:
- La Stampa – just for him
- Costadoro Caffe – just for me
- Thales Aerospace – just for him
Looking forward to it. I’m the most intrigued by the Caffarel since it’s a five hour tour. What will we do all that time? Do we eat chocolate for lunch?
Then we use the Google voice directions to get to the Egyptian museum, to find out about the Heritage Day entrance on Saturday night. The museum usually costs 15 Euros but on this one day it will be only 5 Euros, from 630pm to closing. We find out that we need only show up on the night so that’s a great relief. Sometimes no commitment is a good thing!
At the main station of Porta Nuova, we’re again confused by the (lack of) information. Where do we find out about the transport pass? The station is modern and bright but… At ground level there are shops and pathways leading to the platforms, below ground is the metro – no station workers in sight anywhere. As a rule you’ll find a transport information centre in stations like this but not here. Up at ground level we go outside and look for signs and then I see the GTT office across the street. It’s a small square building. Inside they tell us we need to go back to the station and we’ll find the office next to platform 20. Back we go. It’s there all right. It’s also jammed with people in a waiting room and there’s a confusing number system machine, like in an Italian post office. Choose what you want and take a number – what do we even want? There must be 75 people waiting and others milling around. It’s daunting! So we grab some forms and aim to figure it out another day. Since then we’ve asked some residents to fill us in on how to do this. Neither one knows and one admitted to complete confusion. Not just us then! This will have to wait till Monday. For now we’ll get a few tickets to save my legs.
Back at the flat things are again peaceful. My photos are starting to mount and these blogs don’t write themselves. It’s a great chance to just let things happen where I can, trust that with a little time all the things I want to do will fall into place – won’t they?
After a few hours we venture out again. We head for San Salvario because I want to revisit a restaurant I went with my niece, Adrianna. The ride there is simple – great to be getting the hang of the transport somewhat – and we take a small detour to the synagogue. I remember it as a beautiful building in the shabby deprived area of San Salvario. At night, though, it’s dark – no illumination and I can’t take any photos. It’s a very narrow street and I’ll have to come back during the day. It’s always sad to see armed guards outside any church and this one is no exception. Two soldiers in camo gear and with machine guns under their arms are standing by their vehicle, watching everyone who passes.
San Salvario is, as I said, shabby and deprived. Like most cities, this area is slowly gentrifying and I’d say in Torino this is happening quite slowly. Not much has changed. It’s very apparent that it’s earned its nightlife reputation though. There are lots of people in the caffes and restaurants, many sitting or standing on the street, voices high, music playing. It’s lively! We head towards Rosso and it looks exactly the same. The owner works here with his family and he’s behind the counter slicing salume. I’ve seen him every night on Facebook Live and told him I’m coming but suddenly I’m not brave enough to say hello. Never mind. We’re not really hungry! We choose a salume plate and a pasta with anchovies to share (a local specialty) and Krish has his eye on some marinated vegetables, which I know he’ll regret! The half litre of red wine is a bargain at 5 Euros and it’s mild and lovely. We ask about it later, thinking to buy some but it’s ‘from home!’ That’s a surprise.
Sadly, today the food disappoints. The salume is nice but it’s all dry meats – one of the cheeses is very nice, I should have asked what it was. Krish tasted and screwed up his nose at the vegetables – lesson learned! The pasta was nice but salty. I thought about my blood pressure and decided not to! I’ll come back but alone. That night Krish was moaning and claiming food poisoning. I think it was more about the acidity of the vegetables – he’s not such a pickle fan. And no Facebook Live or lively company but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I hate cameras.
Glad to get home and into bed tonight!