I took these photos in a town called Farigliano, which is about an hour south of Torino in the province of Cuneo. It is in the Langhe, a famous wine-producing area in Piemonte. The landscape was beautiful, with vineyards covering the hills, and I couldn’t help taking a few shots.
For some reason they use a teddy bear to tell people to keep their arms clear of the closing doors. The unfortunate (yet still smiling) bear, arm stuck in door, is shouting “Ahiii!” which means “Owww!” in Italian. It’s not pronounced “Ah-heee!” like it looks, though. It’s more like a long drawn-out “I”, or “Eye-yeee” pronounced in one smooth syllable.
That’s how Italians vocalize when they are in pain, and they laugh when I say “Ouch!”
The second sign warns us not to lean on the doors, lest we risk losing our balance (or breaking into dance, it’s hard to say from the picture). This sign appears not just on the doors of the metro, but on the doors of every bus in the city. What I can’t wrap my head around is how, given the number of buses and the number of years they have been in circulation, no one has corrected the basic grammar mistake on the English translation, which is the case because the same sign appears on brand new buses and trams in Torino. (It should say “Do not lean on the doors”, rather than “to the doors”. “To the doors” is a literal translation from the Italian.)
However, apart from the entertaining signs, I think Torino’s public transportation system is really great. I don’t have a car, and I take the trams and buses often (other times I use my bike). The network goes almost everywhere, and each stop is clearly marked with a big yellow sign listing all of the stops on the line and the name of the streets on which those stops are located. The current stop is highlighted so you know where you are.
Sometimes the buses are really crowded, and sometimes you have them practically to yourself, but hey, it’s a big city.
The metro is fairly new and completed automated. Since there are no drivers, the ends of the first and last cars are made of clear glass, so you can see the tracks and watch your progress down the tunnel. The tires are made of rubber which means the metro is very quiet, which is my favorite thing about it. Also, no one can fall onto the tracks because they are closed off at every stop by glass doors, which open directly into the open doors of trains once they arrive. The only drawback is that there is only one line, so it doesn’t help the people who don’t live or have business near it.
What I’d really like to see, though, are more bike paths in the city. There are already a lot of people who use bikes in Torino, but safety and bike trails are an issue. If you speak Italian, check out the website of Bike Pride, which works to promote urban cycling, bike culture, cleaner air, and safety on the roads.
Here is a photo I took a couple weeks ago during a delightful sunny day which cheered me up after a few days of dreary weather. You can see Romano Canavese, a town about forty minutes to the north of Torino, with the Alps in the distance.
I know I haven’t posted in a while. Please forgive me. I was on vacation! I’m back in Torino now and I’ll be posting more about Italian life soon. For now, here are some photos from this August in the U S of A. I took them all with my amazing point and shoot camera, which was all I felt like carrying around with me, since I was there to relax. All of the photos I took of Philadelphia, I took with film, so maybe I will post them later after I scan the negatives.
A welcome change of scenery. These photos were taken on a camping trip in the Delaware Water Gap State Park, on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. It was beautiful. I didn’t even care that it rained most of the time.
The park contained hundreds of waterfalls. A house on the main (and only) street of Walpack, NJ, which is inside the state park. It looked like a ghost town with about five or six houses, a post office, two churches, and the ruins of a gas station on a single street.
OK, I do have just one digital photo from Philadelphia… and the most important one! Nothing beats a genuine Philadelphia soft pretzel bought from a food cart on the streets of the city. Price: 50 cents. Mustard on top is a must, in my opinion.
High Line Park, a park built on the tracks of an old elevated railway that passed high up in the city, really close to buildings and sometimes going right through them.
Barnegat Lighthouse, on Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Walkway to the beach at Cape May Point, New Jersey
An old World War II bunker built on the beach at Cape May Point, NJ
Those who die in an Italian city will likely be placed in a cemetery like this one, which is part of the Cimitero Monumentale in Torino. The dead are not buried in the ground but entombed in vertical niches like those seen here. What I find most interesting are the photos beside the names, which are most always accompanied by flowers placed in special built-in vases.
I visited a small mountain village in Liguria called Fontanarossa, where one of my ancestors was born. Today the village has very few inhabitants, although in the 1800s it was a regular small farming town from which many people, including my great-great grandfather, emigrated to America. I found the cemetery to be very beautiful, if that is a word that can be applied to graveyards. The church of Santo Stefano, seen in the first photo below, was built in the 1100s.
The next three photos were taken in the cemetery of another of my small ancestral villages, called Diecimo, in Tuscany. It is the birthplace of one of my great-great grandmothers, who in fact also emigrated to America and, in Philadelphia, met and married the great-great grandfather from Fontanarossa of whom I just spoke above.
Una curiosità (an interesting fact): the town’s name of Diecimo, which is related to the Latin (and Italian) word for “tenth”, comes from the town’s location at the tenth mile on the way from Lucca (a historically important city) to Rome.
Flowers and photographs adorn the graves. Many of the tombs displayed the last name of my great-great grandmother. The name was widespread there, both in the cemetery and on the doorbells throughout the town. I have noticed this in most of my small ancestral towns, which took me by surprise because I didn’t know anyone, besides relatives, with my name in the US.
The church that is just visible in the background is the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta, a very ancient church that was built sometime before the year 919 (Wikipedia says in the sixth century), as a historical document from that year mentions the existence of the church, but not the year it was founded.
I will end this post with one of my favorite travel photographs, which I took outside the town of Trino, about an hour east of Torino. The photo shows the old cemetery walls, which enclose the interior from view. In the distance the Alps are visible, and they are always a beautiful sight when they fill the horizon on clear days.
I went out for pizza on Sunday night and returned to Alla Baita dei Sette Nani (At the Seven Dwarfs’ Hut), a totally unpretentious, mountain cabin-style pizzeria downtown (which I wrote about here). One of the four tables out on the sidewalk was free, so we were able to dine al fresco which was nice because the street was closed to traffic.
I ordered farinata for an appetizer. It’s one of my favorite foods, even though I never even heard of it before coming to Torino (see my first post about it and recipe here). I was temped to get the abbondante portion, but settled for the medium size instead, to leave some room for the pizza.
While eating, I noticed two girls at one of the other outside tables. They had partial plates of food in front of them and were both leaning over their cell phones completely absorbed in whatever important things they were doing in their virtual worlds. It reminded me of what one of my friends told me about when she put her apartment up for rent for tourists in Torino. A potential renter contacted her and asked if there was wifi in the apartment. My friend said she wanted to put up a sign in the house saying “No wifi. Talk to each other.”
But I digress.
This pizzeria specializes in pizza al tegamino (pan pizza) cooked in a wood-fired oven. The pizzas seem small but they fill you up. The crust was very tasty, but the combination of vegetables they topped my pizza with was a little weird. My favorite pizza al tegamino is still the one I get from the take away pizza place a block away from my apartment, which is so flavorful and topped with a generous portion of grilled peppers, eggplant, and zucchini.
But I’m willing to taste-test my way around Torino’s pizzerias to see if anyone can make a better pan pizza. All in the name of research, of course.
In conclusion, a good time was had by all (except maybe the cell phone girls). Especially since there was farinata.
Postscript: If you promise not to tell, I’ll show you what I had for breakfast this morning.
IT Ho avuto il piacere di fotografare il matrimonio di Jennifer e Massimo ed è stata una bella giornata per due belle persone. Abbiamo cominciato la mattina presto da Jennifer, dove si è preparata con delle sue amiche e l’adorato cane Boby. Poi siamo andati alla Parrocchia Maria Ausiliatrice a Torino dove aspettavano Massimo e numerosi amici e parenti. Arrivata la sposa con suo padre, è cominciata una bella cerimonia e dopo aver lanciato riso e coriandoli siamo andati all’Agriturismo La Luna Nera dove si cominciava a mangiare e festeggiare. Il servizio si è concluso con un photobooth dove abbiamo scattato foto divertenti agli sposi con gli amici. Tanti auguri ed è stata una bella esperienza sia da fotografa che da amica.
EN I had the pleasure of photographing Jennifer and Massimo’s wedding and it was a beautiful day for two beautiful people. We started early in the morning at Jennifer’s home, where she got ready with some of her friends and her beloved dog Boby. Then we went to the Maria Ausiliatrice Church in Torino, where Massimo and many friends and relatives were waiting. Once the bride arrived with her father, a nice ceremony began and after throwing rice and confetti we went to the La Luna Nera Agritourism where everyone started eating and celebrating. The photography ended with a wedding photobooth in which we took funny pictures of the bride and groom with their friends. Best wishes; it was a great experience both as a photographer and as a friend.Foto di Michelle Bottalico e secondo fotografo Giovanni Gambacciani
It was a nice sunny day last Sunday and we spent the afternoon relaxing at the Parco del Valentino downtown. Lots of other people had the same idea, including a pair of senior citizen ladies sunbathing topless. Totally normal in Italy.
Towards the end of one of my trips to Matera, I snapped this photo at the Belvedere on the Murgia plain across the canyon from the Sassi. The word belvedere means “panoramic viewpoint” and is so called because from that point there is a very nice view of the Sassi on the other side of the canyon (the Sassi are to the right of where I was standing to take this picture).
I like this image because the landscape at dusk seems surreal, almost like it was taken in another world.
IT: Auguri Jennifer and Massimo! Questa bella coppia si sposerà il mese prossimo ed in attesa dell’evento siamo andati alla Reggia di Venaria Reale vicino a Torino per un servizio fotografico prematrimoniale. E’ stata una bellissima giornata di sole ed i giardini della Reggia erano quasi deserti… condizioni perfette per fotografare! Jennifer e Massimo sono simpatici e divertenti e il servizio sembrava una gita tra amici.
EN: Congratulations Jennifer and Massimo! This lovely couple will be married next month, and in anticipation of the event we went to the Palace of Venaria near Torino for engagement photos. It was a beautiful sunny day and the palace gardens were almost deserted… perfect conditions for photographs! Jennifer and Massimo are fun to be around and the shoot felt like an outing with friends.