Living in a tiny country has gotten me used to frequent traveling, so after my ACL reconstruction, I felt like I was grounded in Luxembourg. Although I did a fair bit around the city, I didn’t go anywhere else for over 2 months. I had actually booked my flight to Turin the day after my surgery in anticipation. However, I always equated Italy with warm weather (yes, I know the Alps are there, but that’s in a high elevation right?), so I wasn’t happy when I checked the forecast and it was colder than Luxembourg… The good food more than made up for it though 🙂
Day 1 – Torino
Working in an international environment really has its perks. Nico and I got several recommendations for where to eat and what to do from people who are either from Turin or had lived there before. First up was to get some bicerin. It’s a drink from Turin that is basically thick hot chocolate with espresso and milk. We went to the popular Cafe Al Bicerin, est. 1763, where the decor is reminiscent of an old timey candy or coffee shop. We had to wait in line outside because the space only fits about 15 people cozily. If you’re in the mood for anything savory, you’re out of luck, but damn was the bicerin a perfect start for a cold day.
Cafe Al Bicerin
After we finished filling ourselves up with sugar, we took a stroll around the centro and then ducked into some indoor sites when it started raining. We visited the Turin Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, where the Shroud of Turin is stored. It sits in a closed off area in a box, behind a curtain, behind glass. Super exclusive. They pull back the curtains once a day (?), and I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the box. Afterwards, we checked out the Royal Library, Sabauda Art Gallery, and the Armory Museum.
Day 1: After exploring Milan and Venice by myself, I met up with N in Florence for one night, then we flew to Catania in Sicily. We rented a car and stayed at this lovely little Airbnb with a family of kittens in the courtyard, and spent our first evening walking around the center.
We got dinner at Trattoria Vecchi Sapori, and at one point, a parade of horses came trotting down the street in front of us. Accompanied by music, each horse was dressed differently and trotted differently. Before I could figure out what was going on, it was over.
Day 2: Woke up to crying kittens and mama cat. The kittens had fallen from their perch into our patio. N saved the day and helped the kittens back into their nest.
Question, why are so many Italian city names anglicized? Milan (Milano), Venice (Venezia), Florence (Firenze), Rome (Roma), but other city names around the world have been de-anglicized. Beijing (Peking), Mumbai (Bombay), Sri Lanka (Ceylon). I know there are many examples of other anglicized names besides in Italy such as Munich (München), but why is it so prevalent in Italy?
The whole city of Venice and the surrounding lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so they are not allowed to construct any new buildings. Interiors are updated and maintained, but facades remain largely unchanged. The big beautiful doors of buildings that face the canals were actually the “front” doors back when everyone used boats to get around. The city was founded in the 5th century, and I kept thinking, who had the bright idea to build a city on a bunch of teeny tiny islands??
I have been quite lazy and have been putting off writing about my Italy trip. I’ve got plenty of excuses (adopted a cat, started French classes, interviewed for a job, etc.). But it also just seemed so daunting, so I’ll be breaking it up into bite sized pieces.
First impressions, it’s a big city with some very modern and beautiful areas and some slummy areas as well. The drivers are always in a rush, and can be quite rude (seems like this is kind of just an overall Italian thing).
I stayed in Ostello Bello Grande, and it is probably the best hostel I have stayed at to date. Honestly the only downside my entire stay there was that my dorm-mates the first night smelled like sweaty feet… but that’s a risk you take at any hostel. The staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming, the location is right next to the main train station (and a cat cafe), and they offer free breakfast and aperitivo!
Aperitivos are a sort of happy hour with free appetizers (read, delicious Italian food) offered by restaurants and bars throughout the city. If you want to go out, Deus Café, has an aperitivo with good cocktails. It’s crowded, even on a Tuesday, and seems to be a trendy place frequented by locals.