Last time I mentioned that my old neighborhood, San Salvario, is almost unrecognizable from the time I was living there; even if I didn’t experience San Salvario’s Blade Runner Times (those of “I’ve seen things, in San Salvario, you people wouldn’t believe”), I’ve been so lucky to live in San Salvario before the whole neighborhood turned into an open air night club, loosing its genuine charm.
But even if nowadays San Salvario is crowded by way-too-similar clubs and some of my favourite shops no longer exist (R.I.P. “il guazzabuglio”), wandering around San Salvario still means walking along memory lane to me: this multi-ethnic neighborhood was kind of my comfort zone, the only area of Turin I got along for a very long time, and I could spend weeks without crossing its borders of Corso Dante and Corso Vittorio.
When I found myself surrounded by its new atmosphere, I figured out that, to dispel this new San Salvario, I had to walk on my beaten and familiar path: one kebab at Horas, one glass of rum at Biberon and indulging the rest of the night at the Trebisonda bookshop (which happens to be also the same tour I had on my very first night in Turin, when I came from Slovenia for the job interview that, eventually, brought me back to live in Italy). I repeated the tour on the next day, adding also a herbal tea at Teapot and a relaxing afternoon chilling out at the local park (Parco del Valentino), with a bunch of friends, a dog, a guitar and a few beers; and by the time I accidentally bumped into several friends (those San Salvario’s people I had often met around the neighborhood and had small talks with) I realized that, even after all those changes, San Salvario is still a big village, at least to my eyes.
On my last day in Turin, we woke up late and by the time we went outside the sun was already up and bright. We walked the dog to the park (to Parco del Misiello, an area that is still very rough because, being a former racetrack of the army, it has been closed to the public until a few years ago) and as I have mentioned that one of my favorite discoveries in Turin (and also one of the first urban explorations to be featured on this blog!) had been the Bertolla area, we walked as far as the hydroelectric plant and farther.
Bertolla and the nearby Barca were inhabited by Turin’s laundresses and connected to downtown Turin only by a ferry; here you can still spot many small houses dotting the countryside, according to an “urban plan” so different from the orthogonal one of downtown Turin. Even if now it is connected to the rest of the town by a bridge, the area is still pretty isolated and more similar to the open countryside than to an urban area.
During this walk through the green side of Turin I’ve also discovered something I had never suspected when I was living there: to cut the grass in public spaces, the Municipality is outsourcing the job to local shepherds. I find it brilliant!
We kept walking until San Mauro, a charming village along the river, crossed by the via Francigena. I’ve never been in San Mauro before, and I found this small village just outside Turin especially poetic, another place suspended in a different time, as the Bertolla island.
In the afternoon we went to another area of Turin I’m attached to, the urban art museum in Borgo Campidoglio (San Donato neighbourhood).
The street art works in this area are quite different from those of other urban art museums I’ve visited: they are not by international big names, but by local artists (often students from the Academy of Fine Arts), they are smaller and perfectly integrated with the urban landscape of the district, which looks like a village, with small houses, wide courtyards, narrow streets and old lamps.
The peculiarity of the area is, in fact, in the juxtaposition between contemporary art and the historical traits of the hood, a working-class hamlet from the end of the ‘800s which somehow survived to the urban development all around it.
It has been a pretty intense weekend, especially when my mind was going back to my life in Turin, which was kind of depressing, at least at the beginning. But my mind works in a weird way and, if I think about those Turin’s days now, I only remember the good things: my friends, the afternoons at the park, the urban explorations, the long walks, the laughs, the spring time (which is way more sensational in Turin, after a long winter of snow, than in Rome) and the sun projecting long shadows under Turin’s colonnades.
Which, luckily, have been the same ingredients of my comeback weekend.
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