We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy
CHAPTER SIXTEEN – TOURING TURIN
DAY FIFTEEN – Breakfast With Venetians, Making It Reale, Fire In The Chapel, Horsing Around, Holy Shroud Batman, At The Movies, I Can Hear Music, Out Of Service, I Want My Mummy, I Can Hear Music (Part Due), Cab Shut Out, Slow Down Tom, My Dinner Of “Wows” and You Can’t Hold a Candle To This Decanting Method
We gathered one floor down around 8 a.m. Entering the dining room we were met with an array of breads, pastries and yogurt to help us get through our upcoming busy day. A couple visiting from Venice joined us, and we had a lively conversation. Now, it was time to walk about a half hour toward our first destination, Palazzo Reale.
There are lots of statues and sculptures in Turin, and this one, Hoy es Hoy (Today is Today) in Piazza Solferino caught our eye. It was erected in 2010.
Entering the courtyard …
… I thought we had been transported back in time, but Mary told me they were in costume and it was still 2018. It seems I watch too many Twilight Zone episodes.
Although the palace is on the Torino+Piemonte Card, on this Sunday (and I guess every Sunday), the palace is free to visit. We first visited the Sabauda Gallery, which houses art that the House of Savoy “acquired” throughout the centuries. The gallery is located in the Palazzo Reale’s New Wing. It’s an interesting collection, and we leisurely strolled through the various rooms where we saw paintings like The Beheading of St. John The Baptist and other paintings.
The highlight for us was a piece by a gentleman who we first encountered at the Prado in Madrid and revisited at the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune in France. We had been blown away by works of Rogier van de Weyden in both those places, and here we found “A Donor Praying and The Visitation” by van de Weyden and an “unnamed artist.” This is 2/3 of a triptych (the center panel was removed by “Napoleonic emissaries” in 1799 and taken to the Louvre, where it still resides) featuring a praying donor and the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth. The Dukes of Savoy purchased this in the 17th century.
We were not prepared for what came next … the Cappella della Sindone. In April 1997 a fire erupted in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, and due to the height of the chapel, it burned like a chimney. Firefighters “smashed their way through four layers of bulletproof glass to save the reason the extraordinary chapel was built in the first place: the Shroud of Turin, a legendary and controversial Christian relic believed by some to be the blood-stained burial cloth of Jesus Christ.” Some might say, it is shrouded in mystery. The shroud (last public viewing in 2015) was moved next door to another part of the cathedral.
For the past 21 years, the chapel has been undergoing a renovation (€30 million), and luckily for us it reopened just a week before we arrived in Turin. Although not technically part of the Palazzo Reale, it is attached and can be entered as part of the Palazzo Reale ticket.
Looking up as we entered the Baroque chapel, the incredible wood and marble cupola was mesmerizing.
The chapel was designed by architect Guarino Guarini, who also was a priest and a mathematician.
You can still see the damage the chapel received during the fire. The Antonio Bertola Altar has yet to be restored. The altar housed the Holy Shroud.
There are plenty of statues to admire inside the chapel. Including those of Duke of Savoy, Carlo Emanuele II and Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia Victor Emmanuel I.
A lion roars at their feet.
There’s also the impressive statue of Amedeo VIII, a 15th-century Duke of Savoy.
From the inside you could take a glimpse of the adjacent San Giovanni Battista Cathedral, which we would visit after the Royal Palace tour ended.
We entered the Hall of the Swiss Guards, and this was not a room to be neutral. It was gorgeous.
There are 17th-century frescoes adorning the walls …
… and an impressive ceiling frescoed in the 19th century.
Stepping into the Chamber of the Cuirassieurs (people in charge of security), there are a number of frieze panels.
Tapestries were the order of the day in the Room of the Footmen.
Up next was the Throne Room, once a throne room for a Queen … and then a King. The gilded wooden ceiling displays an “allegory of peace, represented by a woman in white, while Mars … the god of war … is sleeping.
As Throne rooms go, this one contained a relatively small throne.
The Private Audience Room was decorated in 1663 for the wedding of a duke. There are plenty of portraits and a bowl covered with malachite, which was a gift from the Tzar of Russia to Vittorio Emanuele II.
Then … Wow! We entered a hallway full of colorful ceilings …
… and lots of armor and horses.
The Armeria Reale contains “one of the most important arms and armor collections in Europe.”
It was a little weird when I found out that these were actually stuffed horses. I asked if I could touch one, but the guard replied, “Neigh.”
It was one very cool room.
We checked out the view from the window of the last room …
… and found ourselves back near the courtyard.
Instead we walked over to Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista, built from marble and finished in 1498. It connects with the Chapel of the Holy Shroud (which we had visited) that is attached to the Palazzo Reale. It is currently the home of the Shroud of Turin (or is it?).
Highlights included the Cappella Della “Madonna Grande.”
After checking out Cappella Dei Santi Crispino e Crispiniano …
.. it was once again time to visit my old friend at the Cappella di San Michele Arcangelo.
From there we hit the Cappella di S. Giovanni Battista. By now we were singing, “Ah, Cappella.”
Then we visited the chapel that contains a copy of the Shroud. The actual shroud is kept in a sealed display case and only comes out occasionally.
Finally we saw a little chapel with a picture of a guy named Beato Pier Giorgio Frassati. My curiosity was piqued. As it turns out, Pier Giorgio Frassati was a mountaineer dedicated to “social justice issues and joined several charitable organizations. Pope John Paul II beatified Frassati in 1990 and dubbed him the ‘Man of the Eight Beatitudes.’”
We walked across town …
… past a war memorial …
… and through the Giardini Reali on our way to the next destination.
After a quick lunch, it was time to go to the movies. We entered the interesting looking Mole Antonelliana & Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Once a synagogue, it now houses Italy’s National Film Museum. This unique looking museum (that I would love to return and explore further) is also on the Torino+Piemonte Card. The museum was inaugurated in 2000.
Inside the museum is something I had been looking forward to doing … riding the Panoramic lift. I had read, “The highlight of a visit is the ascent through the roof of the museum’s vast atrium and up 279 feet inside the tower to the 360-degree observation platform at the top, an experience that affords a stunning view of the grid-like streets of Turin and its backdrop of snowy Alpine peaks.” Sadly, the lift was not in operation during our stay in Turin.
However, I was able to say “hello” to God Molich (he’s on the left) from the 1914 film Cabiria. Maybe it will be on Netflix.
The museum itself is fascinating, starting with old movie equipment …
… and then checking out memorabilia including old movie posters.
The highlight of the self-guided is walking around and up various floors (with headphones) and watching and listening to various films from around the world. Downstairs, you could sit on one of the reclining chairs and check out the films.
Many of the displays concentrated on music and how it was incorporated into movies. Movie clips with musical accompaniment were fascinating. I could probably spend a full day in this museum.
Speaking of the King.
There were also little rooms you could duck inside where snippets of movies were shown. Of course, I spent nine minutes watching the finale of The Good,The Bad and The Ugly (for about the 100th time in my life).
After seeing this, I knew we were going to need a bigger boat.
We still weren’t done with our enlightening day.
Instead of dancing with Gene Kelly or Elvis, soon we’d be walking like an Egyptian. The Museo Egizo is the oldest Egyptian Museum in the world (1824) and second only to Cairo’s in size.
There are currently 30,000+ pieces in the museum.
We took the greatest hits tour or we might still be wandering through the sarcophagi …
… and I still have haunting memories of being lost in the Egyptian wing of the Louvre.
Also on the Torino+Piemonte Card, if you are into Egyptian artifacts, this is your one-stop excavation stop.
After an hour of mummies, sphinxes and other ancient artifacts, it was time to leave.
I had contorted to see so many of these pieces, I told Tracy I needed a Cairo-practor. Hey, at least I didn’t tell her I thought this museum might be part of a Pyramid scheme.
We walked through a shopping arcade where we listened to a little Mozart. I couldn’t quite get a Handel on the musical piece, so I stood Bach and jotted down a Liszt of possibilities.
Back in the Piazza Solferino, we scoped out where our restaurant for the evening was located.
We couldn’t quite find it until we saw an equestrian statue of Ferdinand of Savoy sitting upon his wounded horse pointing in the direction of the restaurant. It is quite a remarkable statue depicting the wounded and exhausted horse in great detail during the Battle of La Biocca.
We stopped for a late afternoon apertivo before getting back to our b&b. A half hour nap and a quick shower, and it was time to go to dinner.
Having walked nearly 100 miles during the day (or so it seemed) we ostensibly were going to taxi to the restaurant, which seemed like an easy task with a taxi stand literally just outside our b&b door. Unfortunately, no taxis arrived for 20 minutes, and now it was getting closer to our 7:30 dining hour.
We walked fast toward Ristorante Solferino, some faster than others. I hate being late so all of a sudden I had a burst of energy and found myself a block ahead. The song “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast” entered my head (which is never really a good thing). I arrived at 7:29. The others arrived shortly thereafter, all of them staring at me with the collective “look” in their eyes.
Dinner at Solferino was another winner. I started with an exquisite small ravioli dish with butter and black truffles. This became a “Double Wow” coupled my entrée of pork filets in a Marsala sauce with caramelized plums.
Tracy’s main dish, duck breast with blackberries and a port sauce, was delicious.
Mary enjoyed her risotto with cuttlefish and broad beans with shrimp bisque and calf’s liver sautéed in a light cream.
Meanwhile, Kim traveled upstream for salmon.
Suddenly the lights dimmed and a volcano erupted, or so we thought. Actually it was just a guy at the next table celebrating his birthday with indoor fireworks. I thought it should be accompanied by Lava cake.
I had a delightful panna cotta for dessert, while in keeping with Italian tradition, the rest of the group were presented with a plate of complimentary cookies.
After completing our dinner we witnessed something we’d never seen before. Our waiter was decanting a bottle of wine using a candle. He said it helps him see the sediment, so he could stop before pouring that into the decanter.
The staff here was also professional and personable, and we enjoyed the company of a giant golden retriever at the table behind us.
Thankfully, we were able to catch a taxi at the stand directly outside, and back to the hotel for a well-deserved sleep we traveled.
Tomorrow would be our last day in Torino, and what a day it turned out to be!
We’d catch a taxi to take us to the bottom of a large hill where we would utilize another mode of transportation to reach the top and and tour an incredible basilica.
We would also take a tour of the underground tombs and, thanks to a little schmoozing, the four of us received an extra special bonus tour. Although this website makes no money, sometimes it affords us some wonderful perks.
Back in Turin later that afternoon, it was too late for lunch, but not to worry. The Fearsome Foursome would check out a museum dedicated to the Shroud and, yes, one more church where the interior was as spectacular as any we had seen (and we had seen a lot).
It would be a memorable day, indeed.
Next: DAY SIXTEEN – Get Me To The Tram On Time, Missed It By That Much, Going Superga-ga, “Are You OK Sir?”, Social Climber, Among The Tombs, Unexpected Private Tour, Somber Reminder, Directionally Challenged, Economically Challenged, You Can Never Have Enough Shrouds, Taking Sanctuary, The Magic Taxi and Our Final Fantastic Turin Dinner