A Suburban City Girl in A Small Town

Moment by moment……

My Italia – Part Four: Torino (aka “OSASIO”)

on January 25, 2013
Torino, Mole Antonelliana, (Italy).

Torino, Mole Antonelliana, (Italy). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last leg. Last city. Torino

We arrived in Torino overwhelmed from our experiences from Tuscany. Family greeted us immediately and I knew there would be little visiting of the city itself. The remaining days of our trip belonged to family. 

Ask me to name names and I could not for I met many cousins during this whole trip. We drove the hills of Toirano in Liguria, wound our way down the narrow streets to a pizzeria and back again to a cousins’ house for homemade limoncello. Limoncello, for those of you who do not know, is a wonderful liquor served right out of the freezer (although it is not frozen). It is a delightful treat, very sweet and very strong. 

From our hotel, we walked to my cousin’s house. Teresa and Salvatore. Here, my father transformed once again to a young boy among family. Italian families treat visitors like royalty. Nothing is too expensive. In their tiny apartment, a small kitchen table changed into a banquet table, long enough for several people to sit at. Bread was put on the table along with wine. Then dinner started. The courses never stopped coming until the limoncello and grappa were served. The food was so fresh. They don’t shop at huge markets like WalMart. The streets are lined with butchers, breadmakers, fish shops and everything is fresh.  

Our hotel was more Americanized than the others we’d stayed at. After so many days with real Italian coffee, the American version served seemed watery and tasteless. We opted for cappuccino just to get some flavor. 

There is one word to sum up my whole experience in Torino: Osasio. A lovely little village, Osasio was a magical land one could see only if going by way of word of mouth. I’m sure there’s a clear and concise way of getting from my cousin’s apartment to Osasio. We did not take that route and a 20 minute drive turned into a two hour adventure. 

It started out with me being put in a car with three people – Teresa, Salvatore and Gianna. They don’t speak English and I don’t speak Italian. The first thing that went wrong was my seat belt. It didn’t buckle. I should have taken it as a sign of things to come however, it was quickly fixed and, after my cousin Gianna said a few prayers, we were on our way. 

Lost in my own thoughts, I blankly listened to the rapid chatter of the Italian language never aware of the peril that lie ahead. Until there it was. The construction sign telling us the road we needed to take was closed. Men in flourescent uniforms stood outside redirecting us elsewhere. A feeling of confusion and dread filled the car as the voices of those with me grew anxious. The chatter died down as we made a few turns and the car moved smoothly ahead. Little did I know I was being lulled into a state of false security.

Reaching a turnabout, I began to experience of feeling of discomfort as we circled it once, twice and a third time. Only after a few hand gestures, did we finally manage to get off the road. My cousin got out of the car and spoke with someone in the other car. I assumed when he got back into our car, he had proper directions. Never assume, readers. Never. Assume.  

We made our way to Osasio by word of mouth. You may ask, what do I mean by this? I mean no maps were used. No cell phones were used. There was no bright star in the sky to guide us on. We simply drove from town to town pulling over to the side of the road only to ask those walking on the street where Osasio was. Then we would drive to the next town, and the process was repeated until, at least, we reached our destination – two hours after starting. At one point, I began panicking. Too much coffee at breakfast and I needed to use the facilities. Unable to communicate this to my cousins, I did the only thing I could do – I prayed. I had a glimmer of hope as Gianna reached into her purse and pulled out a cell phone – a thing of pure beauty in such a desperate moment it shined like a beacon to us lost souls. She called our family in Osasio and gave the phone to Teresa. Teresa muttered two or three words in Italian and hung up the phone. I cried inside. I may not know much Italian (or any, for that matter) but I was positive neither party was connected to that call long enough for us to get proper directions. My hunch was proven correct as Salvatore pulled over to a hitchhiker (a hitchhiker we did not pick up, mind you) and yelled those all-too-familiar words: 

“Si, Cap’o! Osasio!”

Two hours later, we reached our destination. I saw homemade pasta being made for the first time in my life. It looked beautiful as it lay resting and tasted magnificent a little while later. We took long walks around the neighborhood and returned home for espresso and homemade Italian cookies. I honestly don’t remember the drive home. God, in His infinite mercy, must have allowed me to sleep through it.

Torino is a very royal city with a modern flavor. From almost any street we were, we could see the Mole Antonelliana, which is a beautiful structure housing the Museo del Cinema. We visited Piazza Castello and saw the Roman Palatine Towers. Palazzo Madam was my favorite as I walked up and down the stairs in the great foyer desperate to close my eyes and imagine myself royalty living in such a structure. 

Leaving was hard. It’s hard for an older generation living so many miles apart to say good-bye when you clearly never know if or when you will see them again. I found myself tearing up, hard-pressed to stay in this world where I had no laptop and nothing else to do but to enjoy life in a way we neglect here in the States. But home awaited and as much as I hated to leave, I felt ready. 

I plan to go back with my daughters. I pray to be able to make this trip with my father and step-mother – one generation passing culture down to another. I pray to be able to share all I’ve seen and experienced with my daughters. 

I will return but for now….Ireland awaits.



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