Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Torino: City of Lights

The New York Times wrote a beautiful article this week about the post-Olympics revitalization of Italy's one-time capitol city, Torino. I read the piece with fond sentiment remembering the first time I laid eyes on Turin, on a cold November evening in 2006.

It looked like an entire city built from lights; a real life Lite-Brite empire. Renaissance and modern facades glowed in shades of cream, antique street lamps cast orbs of warm yellow hues in the air and the full white moon dangled just above the tip of the impressive Mole.

It was my first time to Italy, and the emotion of being surrounded by such beauty was so overwhelming that I felt as weightless as the moon. The city's porticoes were the only thing keeping me from floating away like a carefree balloon at the town fair.

Could a city be this electric and elegant at the same time? New York City has the energy, but it often comes with chaos and confusion. Paris exudes elegance but doesn't share the same openness as Italian cities. But Turin; it felt like the most magical place I'd ever been.

It was a night of firsts. My first Italian cocktail. A perfectly chilled Martini Bianco with a twist of lemon, which still to this day remains my favorite pre-dinner drink.

My first taste of aperitivo. It was at La Drogheria, a funky, loungy bar in Piazza Vittorio. The crowd was as diverse and colorful as each of the different stuzzichini on display. It was the first of many times I would hear Bob Marley songs in Italy.

My first time hearing live music in a piazza, an experience that has repeatedly been one of my favorites. The band was of various ethnicities and the driving African drum beats had the entire piazza buzzing along to the rhythm.

My first visit to an Italian discoteca, La Rotonda. It felt as exclusive as any New York City nightclub with as many, if not more, "beautiful people" who all seemed to look like they were distant cousins of each other. I remember thinking how novel an idea it was to actually let people past the velvet ropes without cocky doorman politics and five-hundred dollar bottle service.

At the disco, I mingled with new friends in very broken Italian and danced until I couldn't feel my feet, and then danced some more. Later the house DJ cleared the decks for a live Italian band, and the entire club sang in raucous harmony. I mouthed the words as best I could, making sure to shout out the simpler chorus, sort of like Italians do with "YMCA."

It was a night that sparked something in me. It was the night I fell in love with Italy.


Lauren said...

beautiful courtney, elegantly put. Your words are so beautifully descriptive I feel like I was there and when I finished reading it all I had the energy for was one loud sigh......

Anonymous said...

Courtney said...

Thanks, this is a great guide!