Our first real destination on my Great Northern Italy Adventure™ with my best friends had us in Torino (Turin). After staying Christmas night in Milan at a hotel across the street from Malpensa Airport, Joseph and I were excited to check out and see our two best friends, the locals, Alessandra and Paolo. We took the Malpensa Express train from the airport to Milano Centrale, the central train station in Milan, where we had a wonderful reunion with Alessandra, who moved back to Italy from New York City back at the beginning of August. That was the first of what was to be several reunions during our trip, and we immediately acted like no time had been lost, comfortably adopting our old jokes and actions amongst ourselves like the good ol’ days when we all used to hang out together.
From Milano Centrale, it was an hour and a half train ride to Torino, where Paolo lived. That was another glorious reunion, since we also hadn’t seen him since August; he had left New York City two weeks after Allie did. We dropped off our things at Paolo’s apartment, a cute little place in what seemed like a decent neighborhood. Paolo made us a quick lunch, then it was off to explore his city.
Torino is the fourth-largest city in Italy, with just under 1 million inhabitants. It is one of the main business and manufacturing hubs of Italy, with many industries and factories headquartered there. Torino is sometimes referred to as the “Detroit of Italy,” because it is the home of several Italian car makers, such as FIAT, Abarth, Lancia, Bertone, and Alfa Romeo. Most of us otherwise know it as the home of the Shroud of Turin.
We took the train back towards the city center, where we stopped immediately for what would be the first of about 100+ espressos during our 8 days there together. It was love at first sight, the whole culture that the Italians have with their coffees, and what country consistently brews better coffee?
After the quick espresso – really it was like we took a shot and then left – we walked around the city. At one of the main piazzas, or squares, we met up with Paolo’s family. Paolo introduced us to his mother, father, sister, and his nephew and niece, who were adorable. We left them and were soon met with two of Alessandra’s friends who live in Turin, and they stayed with us for most of the rest of the day.
Starting off near Piazza San Carlo, Paolo proved to be a surprisingly-excellent tour guide. He knew every building, and the history of them, and there are no small number of buildings with historical significance in Torino.