Sunday, October 2, 2016

Piedmont Potpourri

Virtually every list of the top 10 reasons to visit Italy that I’ve ever seen features the words "food," "wine" and/or "cuisine." In Torino in particular (above), it’s hard to distinguish what constitutes a café, a trattoria, a restaurant or a bar, as all serve alcohol, light meals (and sometimes, four-course meals), coffee and gelati.

At the Ristorante Augusto Torino, where we dined often enough that the staff would greet us like long lost friends, we had a tasty seafood linguine with a top crust covering the dish like a fine pie. The cuisine in most Torino eateries features a French twist, but is also influenced by the migration of southern Italians to the city.

The Piedmont is also notable for its wines. The best known wines come from Asti and include Barolo and Barbaresco. A well-aged Barolo, which we tasted on a number of occasions, is smooth as silk because the grapes are ideal for storage and aging. We kept a bottle handy in our room at all times.
In many ways, Italian art reflects the history of Western art, with numerous examples of seminal movements including classical, baroque, Renaissance, metaphysical and futurist. The country is one gigantic art gallery, packed with museums and churches, and Torino is no exception.

Italian architects traditionally have celebrated the classical, though the tradition of innovation suffered through a period of decline.

Of course, Torino was the first and likely most heavily bombed city in Italy. Not only did the Royal Air Force bomb the daylights out of Torino, but the Germans also shelled the city while retreating from the Allies during WWII.

In the post-war years the city was rapidly rebuilt. One that survived the bombings was the Basilica Di Superga, built by Vittorio Amedeo II in 1706 to honor the Virgin Mary if Torino was spared from invading French and Spanish armies. The city was indeed saved, so architect Filippo Juvara built the church on a hill across the Po River (above).

Cinema, as you might expect, is also popular among Italians, and Torino features a number of film festivals throughout the year.

Besides all the notable Italian films and directors of the 20th century, the country is clearly captivated with American movies and actors, based on the evidence, as well as our own impressions, when we toured the galleries at Museo Nazionale Del Cinema in the Mole Antonelliana (left).
In a class of his own, filmmaker Federico Fellini creates surreal movies with cryptic lines and intense visions, while Roberto Rossellini and others focused on films with gritty images and emotional appeal.

Probably the best-known Italian director in America, Sergio Leone filmed numerous Clint Eastwood flicks in southern Italy.

Italians love their dogs, though certainly not to the extent of Americans, who treat their canines like people, and sometimes better than people. Italians have no pet superstores, beauty salons, doggie therapists, daycare centers or television shows. Here, dogs meld into everyday life because they can, hanging out languidly with their shopkeeper owners, watching passersby.

Above, a patient pup anticipates the moment when its owner is ready for a daily walk, prepared to leave at a moment notice with leash in mouth. And what’s not to like about a pet store known as “The Island of Treasures Where Animals Are Precious” (below)? As we all know, every dog has its day, even in Italy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks wonderful. I hope to go some day.