Friday, May 26, 2006

Day 23: Bordighera-Torino

After our last breakfast on the lungomare, we take a short walk on the rocks and pack up the car. We have enjoyed our stay in Bordighera and liked the Hotel Piccolo Lido very much....a great location, not fancy, but clean and comfortable with enthusiastic and friendly staff--not to mention high-speed wireless internet access.

The road to Torino goes north from Ventimiglia and we will have to pass through a bit of France before returning to Italy. This stretch of France is particularly beautiful--the road hugs the Roya River as it winds and climbs through lovely, rugged mountain scenery and passes through pretty French towns. We see a number of French electricity generating plants along the road as well. We stop in Tende (Tenda in Italian) to take a look and buy some bread and a pastry, which we enjoy as we continue our drive. Before entering Italy near Limone Piemonte, we have to pass through the long and very narrow Colle di Tende tunnel (about 4 miles long). On the other side of the border, the terrain is strikingly different--less craggy and still very steep mountains but greener with Alpine meadows.

The rest of the trip into Torino is through a flat, unattractive, industrial area and we hit Torino on the south end of the city. Our hotel--the Grand Hotel Sitea--is in the center and we make a few wrong turns before we reach it. Our room is quite luxurious with a lot of space and a gigantic big screen television hanging on the wall. We check out all the features, including the high speed internet access. Then we pack up our laundry and set out for the laundromat, which is on the Corso Unione Sovietica in the south end of the city.

Driving in Torino is not as difficult as in other cities...the streets are broad and in a regular grid--but there are a few things that I have to get used to. Driving on the wide boulevards, you have to make all turns--right and left--from the service roads; before I realize that, we have missed our turn and we have to scramble to get back on track. We find the laundromat easily but all the washers are occupied so we have to wait for about 20 minutes. There are two Italian women who are washing their heavy winter bedding and two men (soldiers we think since they have lots of olive-drab-colored shirts) doing their clothes. Before we leave, we give an Italian man a lesson on how to operate the machines.

When we return to the hotel, we find a parking space on the street near the hotel where we can leave the car overnight. We walk over to a restaurant near the hotel called Perbacco. Nice jazz is playing in the background as we walk in. The owner--Roberto--sits down with us at our table and explains the fixed-priced, four course menu in English. (He later repeats the process with the table next to us in French.) He is one of those overly intimate restauranteurs and he tells us that he had opened a restaurant in Hawaii some time before but had left after a year because he didn't like the tropical climate. I am a little put off that he won't speak to us in Italian, but the food is mostly good. Diana has a herbed fresh cheese to start (sort of a flavored cream cheese) that is a bit odd, a wonderful risotto, a tasty lamb stew and a disappointing tarte tatin. I start with an unusual dish--eggs that are baked in the oven with prosciutto and vegetables, an excellent plate of gnocchi with swordfish, okay mussels in a spicy tomato sauce and a delicious peach pudding. The wine--a grignolino--is a little light for our taste.

On our way out, we ask Roberto about one of the saxophone players we had heard while eating and he calls over the waiter--his son--who is in charge of the music. It turns out that we like a lot of the same sax players--Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz--and I think that he is tickled that someone has asked about the music.

Tomorrow morning we plan to go to services at the synagogue.


Pasticcera said...

Hello, I'm glad to hear that your visit to the Torino area was a positive one. Although, you have already come and gone, I might suggest a way to break up the drive fromt the Colle del Tenda in what you described as boring section. Take a small side trip up the Chisone valley just outside of Pinerolo, on your way to Torino. Fabrizio and I run a small B&B in the foothills just 35 miles sw from Torino in the Olympic circle of mountains, which hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics. I think you might have found it a refreshing stop along your way. We also have an ad in the Slow Travel classifieds, so give us a look there or at our web site perhaps for future reference.
kind regards,

4:54 PM  

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