Having a Laugh in Turin

Continuing my travel blogs, written whilst in Italy.

Taken from next to the Roman wall. The big dome with windows is part of the cathedral.

Some friends from England were staying just across the border, in the French Alps, so we arranged to meet them in Turin. It was such a fun day.

They were arriving by train, and we drove from La Thuile, so I used Google maps to search for a nearby car park. It directed us to one very near the station. As we approached, it was difficult to find, then at the last minute, we spotted a ramp descending under the buildings, advertising parking. We took a ticket, went through the barrier, and disappeared under the building. It was all a little scary. There were spaces, and nothing to indicate they were reserved for residents, so we parked. Checked the prices on the pay machine (just in case) and it all looked fine, so we left and hoped the car wouldn’t be clamped when we returned.

Met friends and wandered towards the old part of town (which was very near to excellent car park). We came to a square, with two nearly identical churches (this seems to be a thing in Italy) and found the cathedral, Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista. This is where they keep the Shroud of Turin, the shroud that some think wrapped the body of Jesus after he was crucified. I knew that it wasn’t on display, but I was interested to see where it was kept. There is also a replica shroud, in another church, so I hoped to see that too. Just out of interest. I am not sure what I think about the shroud (other than that it’s interesting). Some people claim the shroud is miraculous. Others say it’s a hoax, and dates from mediaeval times. I understand that several universities tested it, and all found it dated much later than Christ, but it was also thought to have been in a fire at some point, which would mess up carbon dating. Personally, I have no idea. If a shroud was ever used (I’m not sure how bodies were wrapped in those days) then it’s possible that it never decayed because Christ was holy—but it’s equally possible it did, as I don’t think everything he touched still exists today.

Anyway, the cathedral had a special side chapel where people could sit and muse the idea. I think the shroud was in the box in an alcove, but I’m not sure—the signs were all in Italian.

Then we went for lunch. We found a café in a square, and ordered focaccia. Some ordered enough for six people, and then ate them all. (No judgement.)

Our next stop was Galleria Sabauda which was accessed via Musei Reali Torino and we had to buy a ticket that included several different things. Our friends were keen to see a particular painting (Passion of Christ by Memling) which none of the guides seemed to realise was there. We found it eventually (it looks smaller in real life than online!)

Lots of different scenes from The Passion of Christ, all in one painting. By Hans Memling.

There was another painting, which Husband said was called ‘The Shocking Spectacle Following Unexpected Gust of Wind’ but I’m pretty sure he was lying.

We then wandered back towards the royal palace (because we had tickets). On the way, we popped into what we thought was a chapel, and it turned out to be an amazing part of the cathedral, where originally they had kept the shroud. There was a massive dome, with a dove at the top (which Husband said was a leftover Christmas decoration that the caretaker had refused to get down because it was so high). We considered the possibility of smuggling a helium balloon in and releasing it before running away. It was very opulent, with lots of black and gold. It didn’t feel very holy, I didn’t feel inspired to pray, but it was impressive.

A really cool dome. There is a glass dove, right at the top.

The royal palace was the same as every other royal palace that allows tourists—lots of interconnecting rooms, lots of gilt and dusty curtains. The sort of place that makes you feel glad you’re not royal and forced to live there.

We were then at saturation point with museum/galleries, so went in search of ice creams. I ordered a bicerin (pronounced ‘bich-er-in’) which is a traditional drink in Turin. It’s basically very rich hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and topped with cream. It was delicious.

Bicerin. Delicious.

Then we sat near the river and chatted, very lovely. We had a quick McDonald’s (very nice, but probably not what you should do when in Turin) before our friends left to catch their train back to France. We found our car (not as easy as it sounds) and it wasn’t clamped, so we paid (17 euro) and drove back to La Thuile.

Turin is a lovely city, and there’s lots more to see. Definitely worth a second visit, would make a good weekend away.

Hope your day goes well. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

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