As many of you know, Ashlinn and I moved to Torino (AKA Turin), a small city in the north west of Italy. Moving here was a bit of a shock: it’s quite a different city from Rome in size, aesthetic, and culture.
Perhaps the word that sums up Turin best is: subtlety.
Rome was in-your-face, over-the-top beautiful. We fell in love with the city deeply and immediately– the fantastic Italian trattorias on every corner (each boasting the best dishes ‘tipico Romano’), the wildly passionate and gesticulating figures we saw (and heard) on the streets every day, the twisty medieval streets and ancient structures that silently convey just how long we humans have been living and loving and working together.
Turin did not strike us that same way. Don’t get me wrong: Turin has epic piazzas and stunning architecture (mostly from the late Renaissance through today), but something about it is far more elegant and understated than many European cities. Its charms unfold like the layers of flavor in a complex wine. Delicate patterns painted on the underside of archways and eaves, regal 18th century salons that now serve up coffee and Wifi by day or host author talks by night, tipico Piemontese delicacies like bicerin (espresso layered with rich hot chocolate and cold frothed cream on top), and eminently walkable avenues that offer a slowly shifting kaleidoscope of sidewalk restaurants, used book stalls, tucked-away antique shops, and peaceful parks. And, inexplicably, sushi joints almost every corner!
We haven’t had as many wild, intense encounters with strangers, but we have had a steady stream of laid back, friendly interactions with locals who are happy to give us a hand, share some thoughts and information, and even while away an aperitivo hour with us. The ‘coldness’ we were warned to expect from Northern Italians feels, to us, more like a reserved and gentle flavor of friendliness.
If you’d like to learn more about the subtle beauty of our new home, here are two articles that have very thoughtful commentary as well as beautiful photos about two neighborhoods we are really digging so far:
I’ve been feeling gratitude for the very small ways that one can make a very big difference in someone else’s life.
Since arriving in Italy, we have been practically overrun by little acts of generosity and kindness that have probably been barely noted by the people enacting them, but have been so appreciated by us.
– Our landlord/neighbor in Rome who agreed to sign a different type of housing contract so that we could solidify our residency in Rome (and my visa!).
– Our tutor Giulia and her boyfriend who were open to developing a friendship despite knowing we were leaving Rome soon, even helping us pack up our truck.
– Our Airbnb hosts in Turin who helped us unload the Demvox– even helping us park the moving van that was far too big for the quaint little streets in our quiet village.
– The stranger working on his motorcycle who saw us looking curiously at a building we might rent an apartment in and welcomed us into the courtyard to tell us all about the neighborhood.
– Our new Torinese friends, a lovely couple met at a random facebook meetup for people who (want to) speak English in Turin, who have taken us under their wings and have been including us in their social lives: the San Giovanni celebration in the city, sharing aperitivi and a fun night at a little carnival in our village– despite our terrible Italian and their limited English.
It inspires me to consider what little things I can do to make other people’s lives easier and better, and reminds me to stay grateful for these moments and not take them for granted. What little thing can you do this week to make a big difference for someone else?
Lastly, I’m excited to introduce you to what I’m willing to bet is a band you’ve never heard of– Savana Funk! Ash and I have been blown away by the number of cultural events and festivals happening in Turin this summer and have been going out to as many live events (safely) as possible.
Our very first attempt to go to an event was very nearly ruined by an unexpected torrential downpour (even including some hail, despite the 80 degree weather!). But, as seems to be normal for this little city, soon the skies cleared and we were left with a gorgeous evening with fresh, crisp post-storm air. It was perfecto! We made our way to the Ginzburg Park Festival and spent the evening with the funky, soulful, charming band Savana Funk, who managed to keep things fun and lively despite the masks. Dig their super savage, self-titled track!
Speak to you soon,