There's More to Turin than Terra Madre and the Shroud, Like Books and Film

In between going to Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto, and eating, we've been seeing some other sides of Turin. Besides food, coffee and clothes, one thing I've noticed is that Italians definitely like their books and films. There are bookstores and kiosks on almost every block.

book arcade


book arcade



They have quite the selection, including these little mini pulp chapbooks you buy at the counters. They call the general "fiction" section here the "Narrativa" section, which is interesting. I also found the Italian translation of "Il Revisionista" at La Stampa bookstore.

il revisionista

The photo sucks, but it's the one in the middle. Strangely it has the "kaiser-roll-headed" woman on the cover that I wanted to include in the Calamari version. I have to admit, they did a much better job than I did in publishing it. It was cool to see in Turin. I'm also excited to meet Leonardo, the translator, in a few days in Rome.

Today we took a break from the food festivities and went to the National Cinema Museum that is housed in the coolest building in Turin, the Mole Antonelliana (sticking up in background).

Mole Antonellianna

It's near this university, when we walked by before there were all these students protesting. We've seen a few student protests since we've been here, in Milan too. The students are restless.

students protesting

I had some video footage of them protesting, and also of this cool impromptu old-timer street singing, but I accidentally deleted them from my camera before I downloaded them. But here's a still of the singers. It was classic.

street singers

The National Cinema Museum was awesome, giving a historical retrospect of the development of film, from the very first moving images, to the modern day, with a special exhibit on Roman Polanski. Now I want to go see all his movies that I haven't seen.

inside the National Cinema Museum (playing my favorite Fellini scene)

National Cinema Museum


Polanski in action


Polanski in America

Polanski in America


self-portrait whacking Keanu Reeves

self-potrait whacking Keanu

The pictures kind of suck because you weren't supposed to take any, at least with flash. But there was all sorts of interesting paraphenalia and swag, including this poster for Blue Velvet in Italian (was there perhaps a scene that was left in the Italian version on a pool table where Isabella Rosellini is tied up and blood is dripping from the pocket and balls?!)

Blue Velvet

Afterwards, we waited to take the lift to the top of the tower. It was hazy and not such a spectacular view. Then we got some pizza and ale.

  Cinque Terre. 27.10.08

Had breakfast in Torino, then caught the train to Genova. In Genova we switched to the local train that went along the coast. I've been reading Bob, or Man on Boat by Peter Markus on and off watching the scenery go by. If Bob is a river man, than I'm a train man. I love being on a train, in motion. On a good train ride you'll forget where you've come from and where you're going and just enjoy it for the ride. Boats are cool too, and maybe when we got to to Genoa we could've taken a boat to Cinque Terre, but the train suits me just fine in Italy.

View from train somewhere near Genoa


We got off in the 2nd of 5 towns of Cinque Terre, Vernazza. Some woman met us at the train station and led us through some narrow alleys and up some stairs to our room.

View from our Room

Room with a view

Cinque Terre is everything you'd expect, if you've heard anything about it. It's a mythical place that keeps living. In this context, the Slow Food movement makes sense. This is a way of life that should be preserved and left as is. There's really no reason to change anything about Vernazza or Cinque Terre, it's a paradise on earth and anyone born here should feel lucky to be born here. The only thing that needs to change is to keep tourists out, or at least at bay. Us included, so call me a hypocrite for even being there. Though tourism seems nicely integrated into the villages, and all the "hotels" are basically guest rooms in people's houses, it makes you wonder what that does to the cost of rent for those that actually live there. They worked hard to create this paradise, sculpting the terraced fields of lemons, olives, basil, pine nuts and grapes on the side of almost vertical mountains, and architecting jaded dwellings and alleys that spill right down into the Mediterranean. As someone passing through, all we can do is snap a photo like all the other tourists and wish that we were fortunate enough to be born into such a place.




Vernazza harbor


We did the requisite Cinque Terre walk, though being that we didn't get into Vernazza town til after lunch, we skipped the Monterosso to Vernazza section. Vernazza to Corniglia was steep, winding up through olive groves with nets laid out to catch the ripe ones.


Unbelievable beauty, like walking on clouds. It started to sprinkle but it didn't matter. From Corniglia to Manarola it followed the coast more. Then from Manarola to Riomaggiore it follows the infamous "lover's lane," which was really the least spectacular section, unless you are a graffiti lover. In Riomaggiore we stopped for a wine and limoncello on some patio overlooking the sea that we had all to ourselves. The kind of experience you have to pinch yourself to be sure it's happening. Here's a video montage of the hike.

Cinque Terre Montage to Blonde Redhead


Destination Riomaggiore



Having a limoncello and wine



Calamari everywhere

Calamari Boat




Vernazza church

Vernazza church

Caught the train back to Vernazza. The train runs through tunnels connecting the 5 village of Cinque Terre. We got a proseco down by the seaside and met some American girl from Boston who was also there for Terra Madre. Ended up having dinner with her at Trattoria Gianni Franzi. We had a mixed appetizer plate with various types of sardines and calamari. I had pesto pasta, which this region (Linguria) is famous for. It lived up to it. Washed it down with a bottle of white wine, which Cinque Terre is also famous for. And finished with a plate of local cheese plate and limoncello. I have to admit the limoncello around Positano I think is better. For that matter, I was generally more impressed with Positano than Cinque Terre, though the latter seems to get more hype.

Cinque Terre to Rome. 28.10.08

Woke up and lingered around Vernazza, drinking cappuccinos and wandering the narrow alleys and watching the fisherman and cats. Caught a train to La Spezia, then almost got derailed because the national train ticketing systems took a dive so they couldn't sell tickets. We eventually got tickets for the noon train, which we are on right now. We had a picnic of lasagna, chicken, prosciuto and wine from the dining car. Now we are just enjoying the scenery listening to Interpol. Back to reading Bob.

I made a video of a train montage from Milano to to Roma, but it was blocked by YouTube because I set it to the music of Sonic Youth's Shadow of a Doubt. I've set a lot of videos to music and that's the first that was blocked by the artist. What's up with that? First they bed up with Starbucks and now this? Anyway, since Sonic Youth is so gay, here's the video with Nine Inch Nails instead. Or if you want to watch it with Sonic Youth, that version is on Facebook.

Train Montage: Milano to Torino to Cinque Terre to Roma






(c) 2008 Derek White