23.07.2011 26 °C
We jumped onto the TGV in Paris and it was a smooth trip over the Alps and into Torino. Apart from the door to our carriage which unbeknown to us led to the restaurant carriage being used by the entire occupants of the train 3 times over (well that’s how it felt to me & Cristian) it was a great journey and our first and maybe last in a high speed train. We arrived in Porto Susa station and got completely lost in the station trying to find an exit. In our defence the station was undergoing renovations. By the time we got to Zia’s place she had raised the alarm and was ready to call the army, navy and air force to look for us but in the meantime she did have the time to prepare a meal fit for king and queen in fact probably 3 or 4 kings and queens and entourage. We had not seen real pasta and a real sauce for a few weeks so we devoured the meal and promptly did the European thing and had a siesta.
There is quite a lively little bar downstairs from the apartment building which parties every night. The cars come and go all night they double and triple park. If you are blocked in by a double parker the protocol is to toot your horn a couple of times to get the attention of that driver who will then let you out. It’s almost a choreographed ballet of cars in and out.
It was raining the next day we tried to walk into the centre of Venaria Zia made us turn back and wait because she was worried we would catch cold and dirty our shoes. Eventually we made to Veneria and organised an Italian mobile phone and a 3G internet card. The mobile costs are ridiculous here 12 cents per minute for mobile calls to anyone and 12 cent SMS the phone comes with 5 euros for free and a plan where you can call anyone at certain times for free. The 3G internet is charged by the hour not by gigabyte so I have 100 hours of internet for 19 euros WTF!
We visited the historic centre of Torino today and it’s as nice as Rome or Florence but without the masses of tourists. They have fantastic piazzas and the Piazza Vittorio Veneto which flanks the River PO which is the meeting hub at night of the city. We also met a distant cousin he is the nephew of Zia’s brother in law also named Cristian. In Italia this makes us cousins it doesn’t matter on which side of the family your from or how distant the connection is. Cristian took us sightseeing and helped us with organising minor errands. One of these was a package we wanted to send back home to Australia. You would think this would be a simple thing fill a couple of addresses and bada bing of it goes. But in Italia this is a bureaucratic nightmare fraught with a myriad of forms, assistants unable or unwilling to help and the infamous “codiche fiscale” the Italian identity code number that all Italian citizens have. The short story is the package is still with us, Poste Italiano 1, Ricciardi’s 0 more to come this one I think.
I had some trepidation on visiting Torino being an industrial town I had visions of black plumes of smoke from the myriad of factories but I was pleasantly surprised. The suburb were Zia lives, Veneria was the summer residence of the ruling family of Piedmonte the Savoys. It has a magnificent palace and many beautiful piazzas in the historic centre. It is also has many apartment blocks which give it the impression of Elizabeth or Hackham West but it is actually very nice and very safe even at night. Zia cooked a fest every lunch and evening and we couldn’t wait to get out for a passeggata around Veneria to try and work off some calories. The week has flown by and we are now on the Freccia Rossa the high speed train headed for Florence. It was a wonderful week being waited on hand and foot and having 3 huge meals every day. We were all sad to leave Zia but I think the experience will mean that we will return.