Benvenuto a To-RAIN-o!
Trip Start Feb 23, 2010
40Trip End Jul 15, 2010
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Where I stayed
We had a very early appointment on Monday morning at 8:00am to view the Sindone (Shroud) at the Duomo of Torino San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist). Quindi (therefore), we thought it would be a good idea to walk to the Duomo just to see how much time we should allow the next morning. The desk clerk at the hotel mentioned that the map is deceiving and that it is only a 10 minute walk from the hotel (NOTE: We've learned over the past couple of months that when someone tells you "it’s only 10 minutes from here", it really means pack a lunch and a sleeping bag). We decided to take a walk anyway – at least we would see a bit of Torino.
So, we ventured out along Via Roma toward Giardino Reale (Royal Gardens) where the line up for the Shroud was situated. Almost immediately it started to rain. Luckily, some of the streets in the central district of Torino have beautiful, grand arcades that cover the sidewalks and offered some protection from the rain. About 2 blocks along the way we encountered another problem. Pope Benedict XVI was in town to view the Shroud of Turin himself. He celebrated a Mass in Piazza Carlo and then gave his customary Sunday Angelus address before going to view the Shroud in the afternoon. There was also a Christian music concert for young people in Piazza Carlo and the Holy Father was scheduled to make an appearance there, as well. Because the Holy Father was going to be traveling through the streets, security was very tight and all roads were blocked by barriers and armed, stern-looking poliziotti, carabinieri, and tough-looking guys in suits without visible weapons (a guy who doesn’t need a weapon is probably more dangerous). We took so many detours to avoid barriers and crowds that we gave up trying get to the Giardino Reale and just soaked up the excitement of the day (and got soaked).
We stopped in Chiesa San Lorenzo near the Royal Palace in Piazza Castello where a replica of the Shroud is displayed in the church. This is a more permanent display as the authentic Shroud is too fragile to be displayed publicly for an extended time. From the outside at street level San Lorenzo looks very plain and nondescript. Very deceiving! The inside of San Lorenzo is very ornate in the Baroque style. The display in the church showed some of the nails, whips and “cat-o-nine tails” that were typically used by Roman soldiers during the time of Jesus’ passion, and the types of wounds that each would inflict.
After leaving San Lorenzo, we decided to return to the hotel. It was raining pretty steadily by now as we made our way through the crowds toward a major street. We hit a roadblock where police held back the crowd- seems Pope Benedict XVI was about to pass by on his way to view the Shroud of Turin. Although we didn’t have umbrellas, we didn’t want to pass up a chance to see him and we decided to stay – besides, we couldn’t get any wetter! Some kind people with umbrellas made a covering over the crowd to protect those without umbrellas from the rain. Folks were very friendly when they found out that Lesly and I were visiting –it was a pretty festive atmosphere! We waited for almost an hour before the Holy Father passed by.
The rain dampened our enthusiasm for wandering the streets of Torino, so we went back to our hotel. Our room had a television, a "luxury" that we do not have in Siena, and we tuned in to see what was on. Besides the usual Italian channels, CNN and BBC, there were a number of sports channels. There were at least 2 different networks that each offered 5 or 6 channels dedicated to just calcio (soccer)! Speaking of calcio, the Siena team "A.C. Siena" (currently bringing up the rear in league standings) lost to Palermo that day (1-2), while Torino's Juventus tied with Catania (1-1). We're anticipating raging soccer fever (a carnival of calcio craziness) in the next few weeks as World Cup approaches.