30 Via Grappa, Baldissero-Canavese
Stagnacy in Baldissero. Waiting for movement on our property, but it is at a standstill until our stateside attorney can provide contacts here, ownership details, and the typical protocol involved in taking possession of the house.
Liam and I go to Turin for a change of scenery. I have been invited to a dramatic event and I am game for adventure. We are not certain if we will be returning to Vidracco/Baldissero so we embark with all our baggage. Moving day….. dragging my hardshell baggage all over Italy… the eternal fool….Housing is tight in Turin, and I am rejected several times on Airbnb, or simply find no response to my inquiries. We finally land a place in San Salvario and snatch it up, despite there being no wifi, no kitchen, no hot water…. roughing it. We meet our host Emilio at the Marconi metro stop and he walks us to the apartment on Belfiore. He graciously lugs my 50 kg box of shit up four flights of stairs. As he makes the first pull on the luggage he looks at me with sad eyes, exclaiming dwindlingly “Oh, Eric!”… as if, with my luggage, I am burdened with herpes or some terminal illness. The building is classic, and the balustrades up the old dingy stairs are epic. I am reminded of an old photo of a man following a woman up to a room…. deliverance, stairway to heaven, and grungy like the Lower East side.
Via Belfiore, Fourth Floor
Stairway ~ Via Belfiore 17
We settle in and venture out to the San Salvario streets, roaming, thinking Liam could use some urban energy after two weeks in the mountains. We wander around, and find a bar: “Drunk or Sober,” serving hot dogs. I don’t normally indulge in ‘lips and assholes’ wrapped in a bun, but this is comfort food. At € 1.50 a dog, it’s a cheap filling of the voids. After awhile, I go and meet with my friend Ramona to see the dramatic spectacle that is Antonio Rezza.
Bizarre again, to find myself waking in the mountains and then to be among the intelligensi and drama set in the urban playground of Turin. Rezza, I find, is some kind of amalgamation of Robin Williams, Alfred Jarry, Eugene Ionesco… like a hyperactive Rain Man strung out on Ritalin… I don’t understand much of his contortioned language, save the miming, and his celebration of the ribald and iconoclastic… and rhythmic with the other preformers, the spectacle is a fusion of theater of the absurd, modern dance, and social commentary, scathing through humor.
Heading back to San Salvario, I relish the passage through Turin’s metros; the stainless steel, glass… black and polished silver is the aesthetic here…. and one has a view of the tunnels while speeding through the subterranean passages. Liam is passed out by the time I return home… Breathless from the climb up our four stories, I collapse into dreaming.
Five a.m. – I am awakened by the sound of bed-beating-wall, and the moaning of a woman. The neighbors upstairs going at it, and I find myself critiquing the technique of her lover; the encounter seems rushed and rabbit-like. Nonetheless, I am stirred to waking and grab some cold-morning smokes on the terrace. It’s frigid here in Turin, damp and foggy and still dark… the street lights strung over via Belfiore between buildings like the laundry in Napoli glow softly; people are stirring off to their jobs; a pack of carousers down the way along Corso Gugliemo Marconi are singing and shouting drunkenly, giving farewells, as if daring the sun not to rise and thus bringing end to the follies of the night.
We spend half the day tracking down a money changer. The post office has refused my bills.. the new dollars, they have ‘Euro-envy,’ they are losing their drab, a bit of color, and metalic, and the clerk seems to think I printed them myself. I carry too many blades and my femur is titanium, so the banks won’t let me in. Eventually, we find one of the private exchanges, the old man in a dusty office with the best rate actually, and I am actually surprised when he asks me for documents. In Genoa, the codger simply took note in an old ledger and sent me on my way.
Liam along Parco del Valentini.
Liam is suffering culture shock. He is not keen on Turin and Italians in general have been getting to him. He is jonsing for something familiar, something he can do here that gives him a sense of his own; a skate board……so we quest, into the West end of town to a board shop, and he pimps out with a deck and trucks and wheels…. we assemble his gear on the floor of the the shop. Liam raises hell along the sidewalks all the way back to city center on his new board. My son, a gangly Bart Simpson making racket on the cobbles, scaring old ladies, and turning the heads of all the girls.
Along the river Po
Back at the apartment, liam goes down for a nap and I go for a stroll to the river, along the Parco del Valentini. Autumn is on here, the leaves are piling up…. it’s all golden reds and grays and yellows. Squirrels and hoody crows forage in the park. The colors along the river are evoke peace; that beauty just before the leaves turn to decay.
Hoodies and a squirrel.
Waking early, I drag Liam out into the city streets to pilgrimage to some Art Nouveau buildings along Corso Francia, specifically the Casa della Vittoria or ‘Casa dei Draghi,’ (House of Dragons) built by Gottardo Gussoni around 1920 to commemorate the victory of WWI. Giovan Battista Benazzo’s Casa Tasca is another gem. Corso Francia is like Turin’s bit of Barcelona…. these beautiful Gaudi-esque creations, executed in that sublime twisting of organic intention that is art nouveau, especially in the tendriled metal of grills and rails and windows of these remarkable buildings.
Casa dei Draghi
Casa dei Draghi
Casa dei Draghi
Wandering, our path comes upon a flat place centered with a plain crude obelisk topped with an armillary. I comment to Liam I sense this place holds some importance. In fact, I count the trees that have been planted, circularly around the obelisk. I remark, “I imagine secret arts practiced here, coven rituals…. some shit goes down on this bare ground.”
We wander toward a nearby looming fountain. Jaded riders in the trams speed by before we can cross to where stands this rocky erection speckled with ivory figures, male, and in various states of what looks like anguished, and apexed by a dark bronze angel. The significance of this fountain and its location escapes me until later.
Piazza Statuto…. the fountain commemorates the building of the Frejus railway tunnel between Italy and France, but the symbology expressed in the suffering males, seemingly attempting to climb the rubbled spire, goes beyond the suffering of digging tunnels. I learn after visiting this space that the Piazza Statuto, and the obelisk nearby, is the alleged door to the underworld. Turin, and the location of this obelisk specifically, marking the 45th parallel, is one of the vertice points of the dark magic triangle: London – San Francisco – Turin. Ley lines, energies…. The angel atop these rocks is presumed to be Lucifer, crowned as he is with an inverted pentagram. Centuries ago, the gallows stood nearby, and an ancient necropolis is underfoot. Turin is also a point of the white magic triangle: Lyon, Paris, and Turin. No surprise this city has enchanted me. But how is it that I just happened to stumble upon the gates of hell and feel at delighted?
Castello del Valentino
Later that night, Liam sleeps, and I go out into the foggy dark, and prowl, down to the river Po. The night photography of Brassaï is a cornerstone of my spiritual aesthetic, and I go searching, to capture my own amateur nocturnal expressions of this old city, kicking fallen leaves about on Viale Virgilio along the river. Near the the rowing club and crews glide by swift and nearly silent along the dark water. Passing the police stables, the night smells of wet leaves, horses, and strangely, metal… acrid……
We wake early for a train to Milan. The shopkeepers are washing urine off the walls along the sidewalk, a morning ritual in San Salvario; the cornerstones of buildings are patinated, corroded, and caked in black by years and years of urination and city dirt. The city is living and breathing, even in the cold. The elegant and the underbelly entwining.
Viva il Sabotaggio
My time in Turin has been brief, but I feel, as the metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico (greatly influenced by Nietsche) expressed… Turin is “the most profound, most enigmatic, most disquieting city not only of Italy, but of the world.” And I concur with Nietzsche, who exclaimed: “Evenings on the bridge over the Po: splendid! Beyond good and evil!”…. yes, beyond good and evil, dark and light…..
Giorgio de Chirico ~ The Departure of the Poet, 1914