Serendipity in Piemonte

Serendipity in Piemonte

Monday, September 30th, 2019

As any reader of my blog knows I spend a lot of time in Torino these days because my “girlfriend” (seems silly to call a 70 year old woman a girl) lives there. We alternate long weekends between Torino and Bologna. So on a recent weekend we were pondering what to do on a lazy Saturday. Another museum (boring), yet another posh residence of a king (tired of viewing their extravagances), return to a beach in Liguria (too rainy)? So we decided to visit a town near Torino which neither of us knew much about. We discussed Ivrea but settled on Susa.

You drive past Rivoli and continue on to Susa

I knew that there was a Porta Susa in Torino, name of one of the two major train stations. With a little research I found that the town of Susa is in a little valley at the foot of the alps and has a little river running through it. Plus it has a history that predates the Romans who came and left their marks there. And it’s only about 50 km (about 30 miles) from Torino.

It’s really a cute little town of about 6,000 inhabitants with the requisite Roman ruins. After a disappointing lunch we went looking for the Roman amphitheater. They could use some better signage for visitors but we finally found it after asking directions from a couple of locals. It was rather underwhelming but is used for various performances which surely makes it more interesting. From there we could see what looked like a very old fortress. I had read that there was a Roman arch in Susa but had seen nothing about a fortress. While we could see the fortress there were absolutely no signs. Again locals came to our rescue pointing to the road (more like a path) to take.

The Roman amphitheater was a little underwhelming

There was a fascinating little path that ran near the amphitheater. I now wish that I had explored it. I’m always curious about where these paths lead but for now it is the “road not taken”. Maybe the next time.

A path that ran along the side of the amphitheater.

There were actually 2 arches. The first was really more than one arch and was the support system for a roman aqueduct. Then we arrived at the triumphal Arch of Augustus build in 8 BC. I actually liked the big rough on the most.

While, yes, it is an arch it is actually part of an ancient roman aqueduct.
These is the triumphal arch. Very nice.

Oh yes, next to the triumphal arch is the fortress which I guess was actually a castle. Not much remains other than the wall but it’s an impressive wall.

As we walked around the town a did a bit of shopping I kept noticing violet and white ribbons bunched together and we seemingly everywhere. When I first saw these in the restaurant I thought that perhaps they were the celebration of a birth of a child but since they were also along the streets I finally asked a guy what they were about. Because of my heavily accented Italian he tried (without much success) to respond in English until I told him that Laura was Italian. So he explained to her (and I understood absolutely everything that he said) that these were the colors of the “borgo” (borough or district). With some research I found that each year there is a contest of medieval skills in, where else, the roman amphitheater. The competition is between the 6 borghi of the city. The violet and white are the colors of the Borgo Storico, which would be the city center – which won this year.

When Laura asked about the “games” he said with a laugh, “it’s not a game it’s WAR!”. Anyway it’s held in July and I really want to go next year. I recommend that you click on this link to see some photos of the 2010 games. Lots of pageantry plus the games, at least the jousting, archery and tug of war.

Of course I love comments so if you liked this one (or if you didn’t) let me know.

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