Dreaming In Italian

Trip to Torino (Turin)

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

I had been to Turin a couple of times in the past. The last time was 3 or 4 years ago when I went to visit my friend Massimiliano. So I thought that it was a good time to get together again. So I took a high speed train (.Italo) from Bologna – which takes only 2 hours traveling at speeds up to 180 mph.

I had rented a cheapo AirBnB not too far where Max lives but far from the center. While the price was right it turned out to not be such a great choice since it took generally at least 30 minute by bus to arrive at the historic center which is much more interesting than where I was staying. After arriving on Friday evening I took the subway to the stop at the end of the line and as I was exiting the subway there was a sign. It said that the next day, Saturday, there would be a sciopero (strike) by transit workers. The way this usually works in Italy is that the strike is only for part of the day (thank goodness). So the strike started at 9:00 AM and lasted for 3 hours, then the bus/tram/subway service was to resume at 12:00 for 3 hours and then shut down again. What a pain!

So the next morning I got up early enough to take a bus to the center and I went to the Museum of Cinema in, of course, the historic center. It is housed in what seems a strange building called “Il Mole” which is a major symbol of the city.

Il Mole

Usually I can only tolerate an hour or may a bit more in a museum before everything seems to look the same but this time I was in the museum for an amazing 4 hours. It started with very primitive attempts to provide images (other than paintings) and progressed to projectors, mechanical means of showing motion and finally to film itself. Included were a lot of film clips from various movies and also those showing the process of making the movies – think of lights, some sort of crane that moves the camera along with cameraman, sound stage construction, etc. There are script writers, costumers, composers and musicians – the list goes on. I really had never quite realized how complicated the movie making business is.

Early projectors

Series of images to form a VERY brief moving image

Not a lot of faith in film at first

Movie projectors – a lot of progress here

There was a special exhibit of animals in movies. The real ones and fake ones. There were film clips of the animals in actual movies as well as films of animals with their trainers. I was especially taken with one of  a trainer with an enormous bear that acted almost like a big dog who liked to have his ears scratched.

A sign for the special exhibit

Fake animals

Animatronic sea turtle

There is this great room where there are lounges in front of big screens. There’s also an elevator that goes from the ground floor to the top of the building for a grand panoramic view of the city.

The lounges and screens – note the big bear with his trainer on the left.

View of the museum exhibits surrounding the big central room – note the elevator descending.

The ceiling with the elevator ascending.

There are also a few permanent and sometime humorous exhibits.

Entrance to one exhibit

Inside the above exhibit

I had wanted to take Massimiliano and his wife out to a nice dinner of Piedmont cuisine on Saturday and asked him to make reservations. A couple of days before I arrived he sent me a message that there was a problem. Torino has to soccer teams, Juventus and Torino. When a city has more than one team it seems that they play each other one a year and this is called a “derby”. A new (and relatively useless) word for me. In any case Max is a HUGE fan of Juventus and it would be sin to miss watching the game. So we had pizza and beer at his house and watched Juventus (on of the best teams in the country) crush Torino.

The day I left I had some time to kill so I went into the city to look around and see the Royal Palace. Originally built in the 16th century it was was seat of the House of Savoy. So there is a lot of history there and since Italy had a king until 1946, he resided there after the unification of Italy in the 19th century. It is now a museum and like almost all of the museums in Torino was unfortunately closed on Mondays.

The Royal Palace

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Random Bologna

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

I’ve been here almost a month and yet to write a post. So maybe I’ll make up for lost time.

First up- the Germans in the church. A tour guide that I know mentioned one evening that since she also spoke German she was going to be busy the next day. 300 Germans were to arrive from Rome in a fleet of tour buses and after a walking tour around the center of the city, at 3 PM (insert joke about German precision here) would all go to the biggest basilica in the city – San Petronio and sing. So I went and indeed they did. There are more behind me so there were certainly at least 300. It turns out that September 8th is thought to be the birthday of the virgin Mary.

300 germans singing in San Petronio

I had seen this restaurant at a piazza where I often change buses and Paolo suggested that we go to dinner there. The tree is considered the oldest one in the city and makes for a great dining environment when the weather is nice.

Dining under a 400 year old plane tree (sycamore family) at Osteria Bartolini

So what do you do when you need to repair a street in the historic center of a medieval city? Do you just throw down some asphalt as we would do in the states. Well, that’s kind a mute point since we don’t have any cities even close to that old. Here you save the cobblestones and put them back down. A lot of work but it maintains the look of the city. It’s worth it.



Repairing a street in Bologna – via Saragozza

A lot done – still more to do.

When I’m in the center and want a cheap satisfying lunch I walk to the Due Torri – so named because it’s right across the street from those towers – duh. Good and cheap – stand or sit on the edge of the sidewalk.

Pizzeria Due Torri

Takeout only – mostly by the slice

2 euro for the slice and one for the water – good cheap lunch

Destroyed moka

So I started some coffee then decided to make a quick trip to bathroom. Starting back I noticed my phone in the bedroom. Ah, that’s where I left it. Someone sent me a message so I need to respond. Oh yes, I search for some info and include a link in the message, etc, etc. So after 1/2 hour I walked back and found the kitchen full of smoke. Oh, well, it can be replaced with a new one for less than 10 euros. I related the story to a conversation partner at the library and she said, yes, she’s done that a couple of times.

More posts to come soon.

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A little Americana

Monday, July 10th, 2017

I’m doing this post for my Italian friends.

Vicino dove vivo c’è un piccolo (e ricco) paese si chiama Piedmont. Si’ come la regione in Italia. Anche se sia ricca quel paese, ogni 4 luglio la comunità organizza una parata. E’ simile ad una parate in molti piccoli paese qui. Niente molto speciale ma e’ certamente un po’ di “americana”.

Inizia con i vigili del fuoco

Una banda “dixieland”

Poi passano le vecchie automobili

Un altra banda

Un’altra vecchia

vengano i “marinai” – detto la Pattuglia Palloncina. (Rima in inglese – Baloon Platoon)


Gli “alberi di natale di tip tap”

oh dio mio – le cornamuse

i cane locale con i loro essere umani

Un cane con il suo costume da bruco

E’ tutto. Spero vi sia piaciuto!

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TV in Bologna

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Whenever I’ve been here I’ve watched some TV. I rarely do so at home because not only do I dislike most of the programming but I absolutely hate all of the commercials on broadcast TV. Here I watch it to try to improve my Italian and at least the commercials are often easier to understand than the programming. I discovered something new this spring. They show some American TV programs and movies in the original language – and without subtitles. I was told that many films and non-italian language TV series have been available  in the  original language since the TV broadcasts went digital and added a lot of channels. I really prefer the dubbed ones since I will watch even the worst B grade movies (well, I do have my limitations) if they are dubbed to try to pick up little bits of Italian.

I’ve also stumbled across a very interesting program called LOL that comes out of Canada. It consists of a bunch of short sketches that are basically language free. Some are indeed hilarious and of course with no language they can be shown worldwide. In fact, searching for YouTube I first found a Vietnamese version. I’d like to see it come to the US. I might even watch it.

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