This past weekend, I was finally able to go to Torino, otherwise known as Turin to non-Italians. For the longest time, I have wanted to go to this city, mostly because I am a huge Juventina and Torino is where Juventus is from. Seeing that I have been in Europe since the end of June and in Italy for about four months, I knew I had to get my butt into gear if I wanted to see this city.
Getting to Torino started out simple enough; my friend and I purchased our bus tickets to Pesaro for the 7:30 P.M. bus. Around 8:40 P.M., we arrived in Pesaro and caught the 9:25 P.M. bus to Bologna. When we got to Bologna around 11:40 P.M. we bought some McDonald’s and the proceeded to purchase our tickets for the 4:52 A.M. train to Torino. It was a cold night, even in the Bologna waiting room, and my friend and I were bundled up tight. We watched Mean Girls which took up some of the time, but then the batteries on our computers died. After that, I just listened to music and played games on my iPod. Finally, after hours of waiting, we were able to go onto our train. We tried to sleep on the way there because it was going to be a four hour train ride and we hadn’t slept in the waiting area because it was too sketchy, but the seats were much too uncomfortable and the heating on the train was less than subpar. We dozed a bit on and off, tried to rest our eyes, and just listened to music and the loud people who were sitting opposite of us. Each hour it became increasingly louder because of all the people who were starting to get onto the train for their workdays. Finally, around 9:10 A.M. we pulled into the Torino train station. In honesty, the station was more of a mini mall than a train station.
We headed out of the train station, and our sleep deprived bodies found the nearest café. A doppio espresso and a caffè macchiato later, we were on our way towards our hotel, or at least we were trying to get to our hotel. I had directions from google maps that I had written down. The directions were pretty clear, and we set out on our way. We had a few hours before we had to check in, so it was alright if we did not get there right away.
There was something familiar about Torino. I couldn’t explain it really to my friend, but it just made me feel happy and like how I felt this summer when I was in the south of Italy and then in Firenze (Florence); it just felt like the real Italy, or what Italy is supposed to be like. It’s too hard to explain clearly.
We came upon a mall to the right of us, and we were not able to resist the urge. We went in, but the second we did we set off the alarm. We did not know why, but we assumed that it was our laptops that were in out bags. So, every door that we walked through in the mall we set off the alarm. To say we were embarrassed would not cover it. When we left the mall, we looked at the security guard to let him know that it was us again and that the alarm would probably end up going off again, but to our surprise the alarm did not go off. Go figure.
After a while of walking, we found ourselves in what seemed like the Turkish/Arabic/Asian part of Torino. I was actually pretty happy about this because my friend and I were starting to get hungry, and this was my chance to enjoy some Turkish food again. We stopped at one of the nicer looking Istanbul Kebap places. I could tell by the way the guy at the front said “Ciao” that his primary language was Turkish. Looking at the menu, I got a excited because there quite a few things that I knew and liked. When I ordered though, they were out of börek which was a plate that I had had at least on a weekly basis when I stayed in Turkey this summer. I was a bit disappointed but then ended up getting a meal with bulgar, salad, and döner. My friend ended up really enjoying the meal, so I was pleased with myself for suggesting it. I was disappointed in myself a bit though because I was too nervous to try to speak any Turkish to the servers. There’s always next time I suppose.
Journey to the stadium:
After we ate, we kept on our way towards the hotel, which was essentially a straight shot, but we did not know how long it would take us. We walked and walked and walked and walked. Eventually we stopped at a gas station to ask if we were going in the right direction. We were, but we still had awhile to walk. After about two or so more kilometers, we finally found our hotel. We were early though so we could not check in just yet. At the check in desk there were a bunch of other Juventus fans who we eventually figured out were Hungarians. They were a party of 18. Everyone who was in the hotel was supporting Juventus. After checking in, we headed to our room; it was surprisingly nice, decently sized, had TV, a decent bathroom, heating, and wifi. There was a bit of a problem with the wifi though. My plug did not fit the hotel’s plugs for some reason, and my friend had forgotten her adapter, so we were both out of luck; there was no way for us to charge our laptops. We rested a little, but then changed and started to get ready for the Juventus – Torino game that was later that day. I lent my friend one of my Juventus jerseys, and slipped into my new Vucinic jersey that I had gotten myself for my birthday this year. I got more into the Bianconero spirit by putting some black and white stripes on my face. An hour later, we were on our way to try and find the Juventus stadium. My phone started to take us down one street. Two people saw us and the one asked if we were headed to the game. We said that yes we were and asked where the stadium was. They pointed towards the bus that was closing its doors. We ran to the bus and the bus driver opened the doors for us. When we asked how much the tickets were for the bus, he said that we needed to get the tickets from the tabacchi because there was no change collector on this bus. When we said that we didn’t have tickets he really didn’t do anything, but when we said that we wanted to get off because we wanted to buy tickets, I think we surprised him. Most Italians just hop on the bus without paying, but we really didn’t want to take the chance of getting caught without a ticket by the authorities because you never know when they’ll check. He was on a schedule, so he went off. We went to a tabacchi and purchased tickets. We asked when the next bus would be coming but the man behind the counter explained to us that today there was a ‘scioppero’ or a strike. We were a bit dumbfounded. Everyone in the tabacchi ended up talking to us (or rather at us) about how to get to the stadium. One man, obviously not a Juventus fan, suggested that we take a taxi. We said that we didn’t have the money for a taxi, and he went on to say, “Ma perché? Sei una juventina? Una tifosa della Juventus? Juventus é la squadra della ricca.” I just laughed it off and ignored the man; I’m used to these comments since back in the states I am a Yankee fan and people say the same thing. The locals were still talking at us and suggesting things as we left the shop. We walked down the street a bit but were confused as to what to do. It looked like we were going to have to walk. We asked an older couple directions, which were pretty straight forward, just make this left and go straight for quite some time. So we did. We walked. And walked. And walked. Asked someone else, and she told us to keep going. Kept walking and walking and walking. Stopped to ask again and he told us to keep going. Onward we went. After a few more minutes we saw the bus the only bus that was running and going towards the stadium. We ran towards it and got on, this time not caring about tickets, even though we had them. About five minutes later, we got off with a bunch of others who were headed to the game. When I saw the stadium I weird kind of giddy feeling came over me that I cannot quite explain. There were so many people there. Most of who were Juventini. It was a sea of black and white, and there were stands surrounding the stadium selling Juventus gear everywhere. I was in Juve heaven. I could’ve stayed there forever. Becky and I were some of the only girls there though. I don’t get it. Do girls here not often go to the games? Is that why tickets for women here are cheaper? The men in this country always seem so shocked when they spy a girl wearing a jersey. I don’t care if it goes against the norm. I represent my team proudly, and I also tend to go overboard a bit. We made our way towards the gates, and I asked about tickets. The man then told me that they were sold out. My heart dropped and I had to hold back a waterfall. I went into a silent shock. I had had a feeling that it was going to be sold out. I tried getting tickets online earlier on, but I couldn’t through the Juve site and I really had no other way of getting them. I had planned on begging and crying and guilting and doing anything to get into the game, but the silent shock kind of took over and I just walked away a bit dumbfounded with my friend. We went into the shopping center that was next to the stadium and into the giant Juventus store. I wanted everything in the store. If only I had the money! One day, I will deck myself out in Juventus aprons, bathrooms, pajamas, and the like. I will also have that giant Juventus teddy bear at some point in my life. I must! The line for the Juventus museum was much too long. We walked around and did a little shopping and a lot more window shopping. I did purchase some much needed gloves and a hat though, and I got my hands on the first two books of the Harry Potter series in Italian. I figured since I’ve read each book a million times, I’d actually be able to understand the books even though they were in Italian, and if anything they’d end up bettering my Italian. Afterwards, we went to this Japanese Restaurant that was in the shopping center. It was unusual for me; it had a rotary of food. We paid a flat price and just kept take plates off of the rotary. I suppose it was a bit like a buffet, only fresher since you could watch the chefs making the food and putting it on the rotary. When we finished our meal, we headed back out into the shopping center, which was now deserted since the game was starting soon and everyone had made their way into the stadium. I tried not to think about it; this was harder than you’d think considering when we went outside, you could hear the crowd singing, “Juve, storia di un grande amore,” and cheering. The game hadn’t even started yet. I tried to distract myself by looking at the tents that were still set up, and then we hurried out of there before the game started. I wouldn’t have been able to stand it. The way back to the hotel was long, but was much easier than the way to the stadium because we didn’t have to stop and ask for directions every second. It seemed though that we passed a little bit of the red light district in Torino though. We ran into a few streetwalkers, who were actually dressed quite nicely. It seemed that the Torinese streetwalkers had class. Also on the way back, the one bus that was running passed by us. We both stopped walking in despair. We had waited for that bus, but it didn’t come and because of the strike, we assumed it wouldn’t come at all. We wanted to be angry at the driver but when we thought about it, it seemed that he was the only driver who was not partaking in the strike and was trying to do all of his runs and then some so he deserved some respect. When we finally made it back to the hotel, we both collapsed on our beds. We had walked about a combined 18km to and from the stadium and at least 12km earlier on that day. My legs were on fire. The backs of my knees were screaming at me and wanted to pop out, not to mention my feet and toes felt like giving up on life. We decided it was best to go to bed, and wake up early in the morning so that we could explore the city the next day. My bed was so ridiculously comfortable, it felt like a cloud, something that my bed here in Urbino should take note of and copy. We turned up the heat in the room and passed out within a minute of turning off the lights. Even though the first day in Torino was not a complete success, it was still absolutely amazing and beautiful and I could not wait to explore it the next day. I was in love with the city already.