A Visit to Turin
Those that dare to stray from the norms of visiting Italy - Florence, Rome and Milan - are rewarded and left feeling they know a little more about Italy than those that have beat the path of your average visitor to this great country.
Turin is the world capital of gourmet delights. Its incredible cafés are found on almost every street - to call it a ‘culture’ is not an exaggeration. Created as meeting places for the intellectually elite - poets, politicians and writers - and caffeine refuelling points, these restored masterpieces still ooze a charm and sophistication that will keep the deepest thinkers enthralled and inspired.
Visit any café and you will probably see something a little unusual to us non-Italians.. A person will enter the café, order a espresso or cappuccino, drink it straight down while standing at the bar, pay and leave. The whole ritual is usually over in minutes. This answers the question visitors usually ask - why are there so many cafés in Turin?
Go back a couple of centuries and it all makes sense. As one would journey across the city, usually on foot, refreshment was needed. A quick visit to a café would satisfy the traveller and help him on his way - a curiosity still seen today.
A person will enter the café, order a espresso or cappuccino, drink it straight down while standing at the bar, pay and leave. The whole ritual is usually over in minutes..
Then there is the opposite - the relaxed customer reading La Stampa when you feel he should perhaps be working.. The Italians have a curious custom that to outsiders makes no sense. They will rush from one place to other, as if they were rushing granny to the hospital for a serious operation or to get home to watch Italy in the World Cup final, then on arriving, relax as if time didn’t matter. I’ve been travelling with people in a hurry to get somewhere they consider important, driving at break-neck speed along slender streets, considering traffic signals as advice rather than law, parking illegally outside a café (usually on a corner on a pedestrian crossing) and popping in for a cappuccino. Yes, granny can wait and we can make up time by driving a little faster after the coffee and still arrive home for the kick-off...