Saturday, June 18, 2011

LAST CHANCE to catch a Templar Knight (in Turin)

Yesterday (ahem) in Turin, there was a conference (in Italian) on the "Templars: the real secret." Today is the second and last day of the 18th national gathering of the Knights of the Temple of Gerusalem. Six new knights will be...knighted.

There is a lot more in this photo--snapped on the 29th of July, 2008, at around 10:45 A.M.--about Turin than meets the eye...More...

Turin is a very sophisticated city, and long has been one of the favored cities of the ancient Savoy dynasty (even before becoming kings recently--in an Italian sense of time--in 1861) in their territory that once spread over areas now covering both Italy and France. So they're a bit frenchified.

Let's practice a bit of LOOKING, not just SEEING.

What's in this picture of one of the city's principal piazzas?

A large open piazza with beautiful buildings and a commemorative sculpture. That's a good start. What you can't see in the picture are the churches at the end of the piazza. I always take a peek in churches (be careful not to disturb the sacred ceremonies...the hours are posted just inside, or outside, the entrance). There usually is something lovely, if not famous, to see, and the peace and quiet--whatever religion you do, or do not, practice--is restful. Be a nice kid. Find the charity box--also usually near the entrance--for the maintenance and restoration (mantenimento/restauro) of the church, and drop in a couple of Euros. They have light bills and sweepers to pay, too, and you've just taken advantage of both.

What else is in the photo...a portico...the city has lots of porticos to protect the strollers (people, not just baby carriers) from the inclement weather, whether due to strong sun, or gusty rain. That's a very nice urban touch, which, surprisingly, is not as common as one would think.

The porticos are nice and wide, too, so that gives the sophisticated coffee shops (oh, don't you just love real cloth table cloths and napkins? I do!) more space for open air tables in more kinds of weather. Yes, sophisticated coffee shops are another feature of lovely Turin. And there's a really famous one, which has hot chocolate (chocolate is another of Turin's long time claims to fame) so rich and thick that it's like drinking hot chocolate pudding. Really REALLY worth the effort to go. Trouble is, I can't think of the name, but it's right next door to the little glass-covered gallery off of one of those handy dandy porches you can stroll from the train station towards the royal palace and the Shroud of...Turin (duh).

The Shroud is in a church butting up against the ex-royal palace, but it opens onto a piazza on its other side.

The church opening on the same piazza as the ex-royal palace is by Guarini and DEFINITELY worth the trouble to go. VERRRRRRRY famous. Very intricate ribbing and a centralized space.

Also on the large space opening in front of the ex-royal palace is a fortified building with ancient Roman foundations now uncovered and visible. Also worth the visit.

Like traditional art from Renaissance onwards? There's the Sabauda (the adjectival Italian form of "Savoy") gallery. For all its unique pieces, there are galleries like that scattered all over Italy.

Like Egyptian art? Here, you've hit the jack pot. If I'm not mistaken, Turin has the world's second largest collection of Egyptian art and artefacts after the Cairo museum. Part of the museum is still set up in the old style still suitable to small objects: glass cases, labels, abundant light from the tall windows. Part of the museum was redone a number of years ago to express life and death themes with more impact. Also interesting. Stunning, however, is the more recent makeover of the hall with the large (and some huge) sculptures: dark like the sacred inner recesses of a tomb, or temple, with blinding spotlights, like piercing rays of sun, focused on the individual pieces. Each approach works well, and has different goals.

There's also an armor museum and an oriental museum, if you are interested, but the other museum you really shouldn't miss, even if you're not a movie fan, is the relatively new museum--installed in one of Turin's most distinctive and favorite buildings, the "Mole"--dedicated to cinema. The presentation is...cinematographic. Theatrical alterations of dark and light, color and black-and-white, movement and stillness, traditional passive observation and avant-garde possibilities to interact with the collection (I'm not going to spoil my two favorite surprises!). It's also possible to take the elevator up to the walkway around the top, to get a good view of the city.

Plan at least a long full day trip to Turin. It's a lovely city with lots to offer. If you're adventuresome, there's also a bus service going out to the Venaria Reale, about which I wrote here: It's the fancy schmancy Savoy hunting lodge with beautiful gardens, fascinating interiors being filled slowly, but surely, with recovered original pieces of furniture, and the refurbished stables dedicated to often very theatrically presented temporary exhibits. That's a whole other day, though.

Can you tell I like Turin? I hope you will, too.

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