In ferie | The Gap Life Diaries
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In ferie

Last week saw the first of my holidays from my perpetual holiday. My Anglo-Italian university friend Cat and her sister Mim traipsed up from the green hills of Tuscany to have a whistle-stop tour of city life here in Turin, before I went back with them (on the sweatiest train in the world) to their little house in the mountains to enjoy a few days of the quiet countryside and a little trip to the beach.

Needless to say that in the five days spent with them, there were numerous hilarious moments, but so as not to bore you, I’ll pick out a couple of faves.

On the girls’ first day in Turin, we headed out at lunchtime to find something to eat, eventually picking a little backstreet restaurant with an alluring 3-courses-for-6-euros offer. Like mine, their Italian menu vocab proved to be, at times, patchy, and when we read the word lonza on the menu, none of us could work out what it could be.

We identified that we’d seen the word somewhere before (helpful), but then realized the place we’d seen it was the first page of Dante’s Inferno (less helpful).

We remembered there had been a lion and a she-wolf in that first chapter, but what was that third animal, that had now found its way onto our menu? Sheep? Can’t have been. Cow? Surely not. We discussed the options extensively, but we were stumped, so Cat and Mim did the logical thing and… ordered it.

Eventually, after nothing too shocking appeared on the plates in front of them, we discovered that the mysterious word meant pork loin.

Well, either that or “a feline, presumably a lynx, but could also be a leopard or panther”.

Who can be entirely sure what they tucked into that lunchtime…

Another top experience took place one afternoon near my friends’ residence in Grondola.

I was somehow coerced into Berni sisters for an evening yoga session in the village, which took place in someone’s courtyard, facing out over the mountains. It would have been a lovely setting had it not been for the handful of locals who had decided to spend their evening spectating as us hopeless cases tried to contort ourselves into outrageous shapes for their entertainment.

The audience was to be disappointed however as our “instructor” (and I use inverted commas for a reason), a man from the village wearing an I heart yoga t-shirt, seemed to be under the impression that yoga and lying-on-your-back-breathing-for-40-minutes were one and the same.

After 40 minutes of just lying motionless, converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, we then inexplicably had to contort ourselves into the shape of a pretzel for about 15 seconds, before returning to our previous static position on the floor. We thought that this could be the beginning of a taxing yoga workout, but no, that was it.

The only break in the monotony of breathing exercises came as a stray cat strolled between Cat and I as we were lying on the floor, resulting in a giggling fit and a slightly unimpressed “instructor”, and we never quite got our composure back. The end of the session pretty much summarized the ludicrousness of the whole affair, when our “instructor” listed all the body parts we should be focusing on relaxing, starting with toes, ankles, lower legs, etc… and ending by telling us in an oh-so-serious voice, to relax our sfinteri anali. Priceless.

Other than that, there was a lot of eating, a little light sightseeing and a trip up the tower at Palazzo Madama, a tiny bit of tanning, a couple of visits to Grom, some wine, some more eating, a Berni clan after-dinner Sound of Music medley, a barbeque, a Frisbee game, a dog called Burger, a sack race or three, some more yoga demonstrations, and finally a very long and very hot train journey home.

After my Tuscan mini-break, I’m back in beautiful Turin, tolerating the outrageous heat and enjoying plentiful aperitivo locations once more, having decided that my current chances of finding any employment are nil, and that if the entire population is going to be in ferie in August, I flipping well will be too.

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