Dreaming In Italian

Revisit the “Store with no Name”

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

About 4 years ago I wrote a blog post about the Store with no Name and have been back a couple of times since. I bought the calendar men’s magazine poster from June 1967 and had it framed although it is still in California as well as two relatively small advertising posters. All of these will come back with me when I go for visit in later July. You can go to that post to see a lot of the stuff in the shop by clicking here.

I wanted to see Antonio again and show Laura the store. So we stopped by and chatted and Laura bought a very nice poster by Rene Gruau, an Italian illustrator in the world of fashion. It was clear that he is quite famous when Antonia brought out a book of his works.

Laura and her poster

Since there is no name on the shop you must know the address which is via San Vitale 54 and it is exactly where there is one of , I think, only 3 of the very old gates to the city that are still in existence.

Antonio and “the real boss”, his wife Loredana (I hope I have her name right).

If you go, say hello to Antonio and his wife Loredana for me.

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Ah finally it’s spring

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Before moving to Italy last year I had lived in temperate areas of California for 45 years, the last 39 of those years in the San Francisco Bay area. There it seems like there are two seasons: Spring where it’s warm but not too hot and never rains and Fall when it’s colder but not too cold and rains fairly often. Now living in Bologna I’m definitely in a 4 season area. I appreciate a real spring much more after a real winter. The delicate leaves of spring are sprouting, swallows have returned both here and in Torino, and people are putting out planter boxes on their balconies.

And flowers are blooming! Near Torino there is a castle, well there are a bunch of castles, but this particular one has for 20 years had a show of the gardens planted with about 100,000 tulips. This year the first day was March 30 and Laura and I went there to see the display. Not all of the tulips were in flower but it was still rather impressive.

First a few of my photos and then…

The castle
Special display for the 20th anniversary of the tulip spectacular – including pinwheels
A lot of blooming tulips in this bed
And yes there are other flowers including these dafodils

some from the castle’s website, showing things in full flower.

One of the beds in full bloom

Another bed – mostly white
Yet another bed (there are many others) with some purple of different shades
A map of castles in the are – Torina (spelled Turino) at the top and you can barely see Pralormo (this place) at the bottom.

And finally the website itself – the English language version. I recommend the video that’s less than 3 minutes and worth watching.


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More adventures in Torino

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

I’m spending a lot of time in Torino lately, every other weekend in fact. Laura has a book of 100 things to do in Torino so I went through it and marked a few of the things that interested me. So this last weekend we went to see a couple of things.

The first one is the Mercato di Porta Palazzo. The real name of this piazza is Piazza della Repubblica but everyone knows is as Porta Palazzo. In any case it is an enormous market of just about everything to eat as well as goods for the house or clothing often of dubious quality. There are markets of such things also at Bologna but not nearly as vast as this market.

The main structure shown below houses mostly meats, cheeses, breads and pastas as well as probably some other things. It’s quite large and we didn’t go through all of it but did buy some torinese ravioli called agnolotti del plin. Cute little rascals that in a certain sense resemble tortellini. Very torinese. Served with butter/sage sauce they’re very tasty.

The original structure for the market – meats, pastas etc inside.

agnollotti del plin

Next we went to the fruit and vegetable section. Vast and crowded.

LOTs of fruits and veggies

Also very crowded

We skipped the clothing section and went to the other enclosed building which had several large fish markets. Here, the process seems a bit strange. The wide variety of critters from the sear are displayed on a large area covered with ice as you can see. The customers are at the bottom of this sloping surface however the scales are at the top. So a couple of guys at the bottom ask what you’d like to buy. They put the approximate quantity that you want in a plastic bag and toss it to the guys at they top. After it is weighed and the price is announced the scale guys toss it back down. The customer then pays and goes away with the purchase.

Scales at the top, customers at the bottom
Creative display
Yes, that’s what a swordfish looks like in pieces

In the same zone as the market there is the Balon . This is a really big flea market. It too is quite vast. While the market Porta Palazzo is open every day the Balon is open only on Saturdays. There is also the Gran Balon which is every 2nd Sunday. The Gran Balon is even larger and has lots of antiques rather than the humdrum normal flea market stuff. One of these weekends I want to go to he Gran Balon.I can barely imagine how large it must be if it is significantly larger than the regular Balon.

Only one of the streets with Balon vendors
Finally at the end of the Balon in a piazza

On Sunday since it was really a nice day we took a trip into the hills of Torino and ate at a nice trattoria called Antica Trattoria “Con Calma”. They offered a piemontese specialty – un fritto misto (mixed fry). I have had fritti misti in other parts of Italy, usually near the sea and they generally consist of fish and other seafood along with vegetables which are breaded and fried. This dish in piemonte has vegetables but most of it is meat of one sort or another.

We made the mistake of ordering two orders. We could easily have eaten our fill sharing and order but we did take the left-overs with us.

Both of our plates were full and there is still a lot left in the pan on the table
The special menu for the fritto misto

So the translation of the above – as best I can: Veal cutlet milan style, lamb rib, sausage, batsoa’ (not sure but better not to ask), brain, granelli (i don’t know but some kind of innards), sweatbread and liver, snail and frog, artichoke, fennel, some kind of potato thing, zucchini, eggplant and cauliflower, apple, pavesini (some kind of cookie) sour cherry, zabaioni ( a kind of sweet creamy stuff – how they manage to fry it is beyond me) and finally semolini (a kind of sweet made from wheat). Whew, just eat it and don’t worry about it. I pretty much liked it all except the frog – too many little bones.

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Exhibits at the Venaria Reale

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

OK, of course you don’t remember what exactly the Venaria Reale is. I did a blog post about a visit there (Another Trip to Torino) and since it is so vast it was impossible to see everything. So Laura and I returned for another dose of Torinese culture. This time we went for the stables. They’re not your ordinary stables; they could house 160 horses and there is also the Citroniera (big greenhouse for citrus). That all come out to roughly 54,000 square feet that has all been converted to other uses including several exhibition spaces. We didn’t see everything by any means. We saw 3 exhibits in all. “Easy Rider” had a bunch of motorcycles including the one used in the movie of that name.

Some classic motorcycles

Then we saw an exhibit of the works of this guy below. This is one of his most famous photos but he did a lot of very interesting stuff and naturally I took no photos of his photos and they are all copyrighted and difficult to find available on the web. But it’s worth a Google search to see some of his stuff.

And then the exhibit that impressed me most of all. Furniture. I did amateur woodworking for over 10 years and really appreciate artistry in that medium. All pieces by a guy (Pietro Piffetti) who lived his entire life in Torino other than an apprenticeship in Rome. Now considering that this was in the mid 1700s when he was doing this work, it is absolutely astounding considering the tools available almost 300 years ago.

The furniture is made of fine woods with marquetry using other woods and non-wood materials including mother of pearl, ivory, tortoise shell and colored stones to make a design. Needless to say I was quite impressed.

A meticulously inlaid top of a desk. Other than the small ivory inlays all of the other parts are different types of wood.

Truly mind boggling. Mother of pearl, ivory, tortoise shell and colored stone … make up all of the images. It is a facade for a church altar.
Detail of part of the work pictured above.
And a nice little desk. he center part near the bottom folds out to provide a writing surface

We didn’t stroll through the gardens. Well, stroll would be an understatement since the gardens since the gardens are about 150 acres in size.

View from the palace
View from the end of the “canal” that can be seen also in the previous photo.

Well, we’ll just have to go back. It should be better in spring time anyway.

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