Friday, November 11, 2005

the week's travels

Blog, travels

I tucked into a plate of tortellini in brodo tonight with American guests, very happy to be back in Bologna after some amazing impromptu travels. Last weekend I headed to Rome to see Marta off and to meet with colleagues. It was strange to be there again, to see my neighborhood and my friends in the autumn as a visitor, not as a summertime resident. It was still warm and inviting Monti, with all the characters I remember, but from the outside. I made a trip to Porta Portese and enjoyed the boisterousness of the market, but spent most of my time tracking down friends, being rained on, having my cell phone die. Then I hurried back to Bologna to meet my friend Zane, to accompany him the next day to Turin to the opening of the Torino Triennale of contemporary art, where his friend Justin Lowe was finishing an installation. We enjoyed the VIP status of being in the artist’s entourage, getting access to the parties and museums, schmoozing opportunities with the press, and free reign to be as loony as we wanted, in the name of “ART”.

Turin is a city with a fascinating history, vying to be a contemporary European cultural center. Nearly the entire city is under construction, the main piazzas, the monuments, buildings hidden behind scaffolding…for the upcoming winter Olympics but also I suspect as a larger effort. I was very impressed with the architecture, the elegance of the city center, the royal Savoy historical presence, and especially with the amount of cultural activity. This triennale was opening, then a big film festival sponsored by Fiat the following weekend, and there were simultaneously major exhibits of surrealism, Robert Maplethorpe, Joan Miro, to name a few. AND the food is excellent, not to mention the region’s wines which are indisputably Italy’s finest. Zane is on the same wavelength in terms of food, willing to wander out of his way to find the typical regional trattoria, willing to pay a little extra for a real wine and have less of it. It’s great to have him around.

So I’m full of marrons glaces and risottos and Nebbiolos and Gattinaras (can’t afford the Barolos), great cheeses and chocolates and artichokes. I wandered Turin alone today, while Zane helped extricate Justin from the triennale and bring him back to Bologna for decompression. In a few hours I managed to see the Shroud of Turin (actually, the altar that holds it and some reproductions since the real thing only comes out for very special occasions), ascend to the top of la Mole (the funny top of the Chrysler building shaped tower without the actual building says Zane), walk through the royal gardens, search out an excellent cheese shop, treat myself to a coffee and marron glace in a posh café, see more contemporary art, and wander most of the city center.

As much as I enjoy travel and trying new things, I’m very happy to be back in my town, my inelegant, medieval town full of grungy students and homey food. I like Torino, but it tries too hard. Bologna is unpretentious and good for the soul.


Blogger mcbickle said...

are you there? harrumph.

November 19, 2005  

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