A Night in Turin
Downtown, gliding through via Roma and in the piazzas young and old couples stroll by. Public display of affection occurs in the U.S. especially around high school and college campuses. Back in America I see less of it between the older couples and too much of it between the high school couples. Here the teenage boy cuddles and kisses his girlfriend. Later a couple in their mid-twenties smooches in the middle of the piazza. Numerous couples who have probably spent the past 25 years together stroll through the piazza arms intertwined with each other’s. An elderly couple walks hand-in-hand down via Roma seconds later. Not only does the affection between Italian couples seem 100 times greater than the affection between American couples, but the atmosphere of downtown is relaxed and calm. American couples do present daily acts of P.D.A. but in Italy when you walk down the street there is constant affection between the couples. If they are not kissing or hugging or cuddling on a bench, they are clasping each other’s hands. It is clear that they are a couple. In my eyes, any bit of distance between two Italians immediately means they are not a couple.
Whether with their significant other or with friend, tonight everyone enjoys the soft summer evening and strolls through downtown. A typical downtown at this time, for cities I am used to, is chaotic and loud. Fewer couples quietly wander the streets of Toledo or Cincinnati on a Saturday night at 10pm, and more crazy college kids and groups of teenaged friends loudly storm throughout the city. Here, music escapes from a pizzeria down the street and delicately sings in the background.
As time passes the night gains a slight chill to it and clouds fade the moon in the sky. I claim this night in mid-September as the official end of summer. Families walk by with young children playing. A small group of girls giggle past. Like most places there are always those dangerous parts of a city, but in this part of Torino, I feel completely safe. Two churches outline via Roma that leads back to the metro. A procession circles around the piazza praising The Lord in Italian phrases.
Though Torino seems close to perfection one aspect I notice as I venture around the new city is the splatter of paint on the gorgeous old buildings. As I walk down via Roma, pass the shops filled with expensive merchandise and throughout the piazzas, the amount of graffiti shocks me. With all the beauty of the buildings and statues and quiet simplicity of the night, the slash of the graffiti on the beautiful walls always surprises me. For me, it takes so much away from the gorgeous buildings that claim so much history.
The buildings framing each piazza are gorgeous. On the first floor they are lined with shops, pizzerias, cafés, bars, and gelatorias with the floors above the homes of Italians. The architecture is unbelievable and adds so much character to the city. I had always seen pictures of Italy and the architecture that Italy proudly owns, but to see the buildings on my own and take my own photos of the piazza makes a world of a difference. The soft night in Torino presents everything that the city stands for. There are louder areas and discotecas with raving twenty-somethings, but with the law against being loud from 10pm to 8am most of the city remains a light hum during the late hours.