More of Torino’s Awesomeness

More evidence proving Torino’s awesomeness: I’m not sure why, possibly for Christmas, but also just because it’s cool, all of the major streets leading into the Piazza Castello were lit up with lights! My favorite was the Via Po, which had stars and planets:

pretty!

Another street had constellations, another a poem, it was a stunning effect. And a particularly fun thing about these streets, which you can kind-of see in the picture above is the porticoes! Those arches are a covered walkway, a portico, which a lot of the streets had! On our last day it rained and rained, but thankfully because of the porticoes, you hardly get wet! The porticoes also hide all the wonderful cafes that are scattered around the city. Likely because of the city’s proximity to France, cafe culture exists there in a bit of a different way. Instead of the regular Italian bar, where you typically drop in, have your coffee standing at the counter, and head out, the cafes in Torino seem like places you could sit at a table with a book for hours and hours. Some of the cafes are decades/centuries old and really convey a French or Viennese atmosphere:

this picture is a bit hard to read, but this cafe was gorgeous. It was built in about 1906? I think, and the walls were mirrored, with bronze foliage and rich wood everywhere. So pretty.

The Parco del Valentino, a huge park hugging the banks of the Po further emphasized the French feel to the city. The park was lovely, full of people walking their dogs, and signs of autumn all over the place:

looking across the Po at the entrance to the park
so much fall!

and also has this ridiculously French-chateau looking palace right in the middle of it:

were we suddenly transported to the Loire Valley?

After our stroll through the park we had a decision to make: Egyptian Museum or Risorgimento Museum? Because of the former Savoy rulers, Torino has the largest collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts outside of Cairo. And while that seemed fascinating, we actually went for the Risorgimento Museum instead. Though all Italian cities are studded with monuments celebrating the various eras of Italy’s illustrious past, Torino is positively awash in monuments celebrating Italy’s 19th century past, the age of Italian unification, which is called the Risorgimento in Italian. We decided to embrace the more contextually relevant museum and dove into the confusing, complicated saga of Italian unification. While the museum was jam packed with fascinating objects, including the outfit Camillo Cavour wore when he went to Paris to make a case for a unified Italy, it unfortunately didn’t clarify things for me as much as I had wanted it too. A litte reading on wikipedia afterwards helped, from which I primarily deduced that Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the generals who fought for unification, was a BALLER.

museum in a guarino guarini palace!

At the very least the museum helped me sort out why every single Italian town I’ve ever been in has a “Via Cavour” or “Via Mazzini.” I knew these guys were major Risorgimento figures, but now I understand it a little better. Maybe that should be another one of my goals for my time here: get a good grasp of the Risorgimento. Luckily in Torino you can get a start on that while eating tons and tons of chocolate, which I’ll post about next…

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