February 9, 2006

The Olympics in Turin or Torino, whatever.

Kiss my ass -- I can say something most of you cannot. I have been to Turin. More than once. Turin or Torino, if you prefer, is the Detroit of Italy. Fiat calls the city home.

Torino is a blue collar city. The city has done its best to clean up, to put on a good front, but in the end it is just not a pretty city. Of the more than 2 dozen European cities in six European countries I have visited, it is the ugliest, dirtiest, and most boring.

My most recent visit was in October of this year. The mountains (about an hour away)already had a coating of snow. The airport was under severe remodeling. The subway was still not complete. When I asked a friend if the city would be ready for the Olympics, he told me I have to consider the progress was pretty good -- for Italians!

My first visit to Torino is my favorite. First, a bit of explanation. My employer is a company on the outskirts of Torino. My boss is Italian. I was visiting the plant. After a few days of meetings etc., my boss asked one morning if I wanted to tour Torino. I jumped at the chance. He had one of the executives drive me into the city. Enrico pulled out a map and showed me some of the sites of interest. He reached across and opened my car door. He told me he would meet me back at this spot at 7:00 pm. It was 11:00 am. I was on my own with an Italian map. I speak a little French. I can say a few words in German. I cannot speak even ONE word of Italian.

In eight hours you can walk and learn the downtown of just about any city in the world. I wandered the Plaza where the Today show is being filmed. Near the site NBC will use for the Olympic coverage is the Palace, and some wonderful gardens. I watched a guy feel up his girlfriend on a park bench under the trees. I tried to see the famous shroud of Turin, but the Church was closed. I saw Roman Ruins. I visited a cool military museum. The museum featured arms from the mediaeval to current times. I saw ancient armor,swords and matchlocks, flintlocks, arms from the age of Napoleon -- all for about 3 Euros.

I walked to covered promenade along the shopping district. I drank a few beers, I had some wine and gellato. I watched the construction of one of the new entrances to the subway, and realized Italian workers stood around watching as much as American workers.

I did not take a camera, so I have to see the snapshots in my mind. I cannot even reference the map, my coworker insisted I return it. I had a nice time on that July day. I enjoyed the sun, saw some history, and watched a fine looking young Italian Girl get her jollies in a garden behind a palace of a king.

Life ain't all bad.

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