29 Aug August in the city
August is almost over. Temperatures are at long last going down and the Torinesi are gradually making their way back to the city after an entire month away. The Greek restaurant is open once more, my timetable is filling up, and it’s easier by the day to find an open tabaccheria to buy a bus ticket.
Here follows a run-down of August’s most memorable events, starting with the Notte di San Lorenzo:
A few weeks ago, The Greek, Lia and I made our way up a very big hill for an afternoon drink in a desperate bid to escape the heat and humidity of the city centre. On our way back down, we were listening to the excellent tunes of Disco Radio when we heard the presenter talking about the Notte di San Lorenzo, which fell on that day.
This night falls on the 9th or 10th of August every year and is known as ‘the night of shooting stars’. Last year on this exact day, The Greek took me to the Venaria Reale for an aperitivo in the hope of seeing the stars there, but it had clouded over and our night of astronomy wasn’t to be.
This year, we were determined not to be beaten. Instead of heading home to watch a rubbish film, we dashed to the supermarket, picked up some picnic goods, came home to prepare our hamper (ok, reusable plastic bag), and headed out again.
We drove up to the Colle della Maddalena, one of my favourite places in Turin so far, and were met by… everybody else who’d had exactly the same idea. No matter, we laid down our blankets, plugged in our speakers to the always appropriate frequency of Disco Radio, and tucked into our feast, surrounded by the envious (or perhaps irritated) glances of our fellow stargazers before lying down to patiently wait for the stars to fall.
After quite a while (and several false alarms caused by errant bats and bugs, and one episode involving an enormous insect falling from the sky right into my open palm, which I’d rather not talk about) and as the crowds had started to leave us in peace, I saw my first ever shooting star. After the first came more, and only after a few hours did we finally leave, having decided that we’d had our fair share of wishes for one evening.
I’ve mentioned before that some moments here make me incredibly happy that I’m on this big ole adventure of mine, and stargazing with those two in one of the best places Turin has to offer was certainly one of them.
A week or so later, it was time to head home for a few days of very welcome drizzle and cold. After a much-needed pub lunch on the way home from the airport, I set to work on clearing some of the useless rubbish out my room, catching up with my lovely Granny, and perhaps most excitingly, having a proper Chinese takeaway.
My cousin, her husband, and their very squishable smooshable lovely bundle of baby fun came to visit for a day, followed by my other cousin and his girlfriend the next, and I even got to see my favourite ginger friend for a few hours of long overdue catching up.
Despite an almost heart-attack inducing episode involving a bat making its way into my bedroom, leading me to run away in the girliest, most pathetic possible fashion and sleep on the sofa, and making me jumpy and nervous for the following two days, it was quite nice to be ‘home’. I say ‘home’ rather than home because my mother has started referring to it as ‘my house’ rather than ‘our house’, which I suppose is supposed to make me understand that I officially no longer live there. Ouch. O
f course, quicker than you could say ‘proper cup of tea’, it was already time to head back to Turin, and I was dropped off at the Stansted Holiday Inn to have a nap before my 6am flight. Joy.
Once back in Turin, I was able to start focusing my attention on a very much anticipated visitor – one of my best friends, Bex. I’d been hoping this particular pal would come to see me ever since I first got here, and had been bouncing around with excitement from the moment she’d booked her flights a couple of weeks before, so when she arrived I was ready to have some serious fun.
That was, if I could ever find her, as she’d wandered off from the bus stop and got herself very lost in the middle of the city (“I’m on a big road… I can see a bus”), and I’d run out of phone credit half way through the first call, so couldn’t contact her. Not ideal. After a series of panicked phone calls with the Greek, we finally managed to locate one another, and could get on with our weekend.
Unlike with some (ok, all) of the other visitors I’ve had, we managed to do some “cultural stuff” – the newly refurbished Egyptian Museum, the Mole, Superga, etc. – in between trips to McDonalds and assorted cafés.
We also went on a night out to my favourite nightspot, Cacao, along with The Greek, Rhiannon, Lia and Meg for what will probably be my last trip there this summer, seeing as it closes at the beginning of September.
We also spent an afternoon painting our nails after getting caught in (and rescued from) the world’s most terrifying hail storm on our way back from being cultural.
All in all, it was one of my favourite weekends in recent memory, despite almost being knocked out by some huge balls of ice falling from the sky. It’s always brilliant having old friends here to show them that I wasn’t joking about this Gap Life malarkey, and I already can’t wait for her to come back.
Amongst all this, The Greek and I have had a couple of dinners with a couple of friends, a lot of grilled meat and Greek wine, one trip to the zoo, and one more (slightly damp) farewell dinner during yet another outrageous storm, where we said goodbye to Lia who is now safely back in London and finally reunited with her dog!
August has been strange, with Turin feeling completely empty, but also full of fun with some of my favourite people. I started the month slightly losing the will to live due to a huge lack of things to do, but have ended it feeling pretty satisfied with friends, work, and this whole ridiculous adventure which is still every bit as fun as it was this time last year. The autumn has got a lot to live up to.