Torino & La Venaria Reale


From Saturday.

It is almost noon. I have been up since 7; Julia still snores. I had hoped to walk to the big Vodafone store and get a data card for my iPad, the smaller store where I was able to get the card last year, no longer sells them. I can’t leave Julia, even sleeping, for a long walk. I unpacked and sorted out bags, had breakfast with coffee, talked to various members of the house, walked the dog with my friend, had a short Italian lesson with my friend and now have some writing time. I am almost ready for the nap I promised myself. And yet, I don’t have the heart to awaken my princess. She lived on two hours of sleep yesterday stolen on the plane ride. I am impatient to become acclimated to this place and to be out exploring. This is away so the way I am at the beginning of traveling. Julia is just obeying her body’s need for rest.

So, should I wake her at noon?

Perhaps I should try to nap.

Oh, I still need to grow more patience!
We arrived in Milano yesterday (Friday) morning and took a bus straight to Torino. Last year, we took the train to Milano central and then another to Torino. The bus was quicker by almost an hour. It was hot and we rode very close to the back of the bus. After a night of little sleep, I got off the bus so motion sick that I had to sit quietly for 1 minutes before I could nudge the short Cab ride to S’s house.

After we exchanged happy greetings, I begged to just sleep for awhile and had a deep sleep of a nap for more than hour. The sleep worked its miracle and I awoke refreshed. Then we walked some, had our first gelato, our very first Italian food, of this journey, tried and failed to get into a show in the evening and had a family supper. Julia didn’t miss a moment during the entire day. She did all the walking and eating without a nap and protested slightly, very slightly, to going to bed after 10 when I insisted on it. I wonder if Julia’s insistence on staying awake for so long echoes back to her early days with me. She hated to give up consciousness and surrender to sleep, so intense was her trauma. I developed a meditation practice for myself around putting her to sleep at night. Of course, our traveling is not greatly traumatic for her but does journey anxiety, hers and mine, put her into a vigilant place where she needs to defensively hold onto consciousness. Once we went to our bedroom and she changed her clothes and brushed her teeth, she admitted she was a little tired. And she appeared to be asleep moments after becoming horizontal.

Noon bells in Torino. I can hear bells from more than one church. I love the bells. They remind me of childhood. There were two Catholic Churches close to our house and they rang the angelus at noon and six. In Torino, the bells ring on the hour and I find it comforting. It is another hot day and I am hungry for lunch.

This morning I caught up on news of the last two days and my heart hurt. Trevor Noah of The Daily Show, commented well. “It is not a Black problem. It is not a cop problem. It is an American problem.” Yes, yes, indeed. Now, what can we do to change our problem? I admit that I have no idea of how to be part of the answer. My heart hurts but that is certainly not enough.
Sunday now.
“Demand change now!”
This was the message of the performance art piece we watched last night. It was not about the violence in our streets but about the ecological crisis. We stood for the performance and I realized that I was standing in a large crowd who all took for granted that changes in our environment and climate are our responsibility. This is a simple truth for me, yet I know this truth is not shared with many Americans and we are part of the reason that agreements were not reached at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference which was the starting point for the theater piece.

The piece was “As The World Tipped“and it was performed by Wired Aerial Theatre Production, written and directed by Nigel Jamieson. The performers physically struggled to control their increasingly precarious stage and world while doing battle with the effects of an environmental catastrophe all the time suspended above the audience on a vertical stage high in the night sky. It was spectacular, not always perfectly realized, but bold and dramatic. It was so exciting to see  where performance art has gone.

The setting for the spectacle was the very lovely La Venaria Reale which we visited during the day last year. La Venaria Reale is a grandiose estate built by the House of Savoy as a hunting lodge. It is a twenty minute drive from the center of Torino and has a complicated history, including partial destruction by more than one army during more than one war. After being declared part of the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1997, it was restored and reopened to the public in 2007. It is a lovely day away from Torino with art, architecture and gardens to roam through. There may be food inside the palace but I did not see it. There are many small restaurants on the street leading to the palace and lots of gelato.
As The World Tipped was a part of a performance festival called Sere d’Estate alla Reggia 2016–On summer evenings in the palace. It almost goes without saying that I would love to see more. After the performance, there was a musical fountain show in the courtyard. We saw one of these last year in the evening light. This time it was well after midnight and we stayed for only part of the concert. The light classical music and the columns of water under lit and playful was a serene balm after the drama of the performance.

We were tired when we arrived home although Julia complained without enthusiasm that she didn’t need sleep. She washed and brushed and climbed the stairs. I kissed her and she did not move for hours.

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