Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tomm and Danise in Italy: Thursday, January 1

We awake in Torino just about the time LA is popping the cork to welcome in 09.

It's an overcast and bitter cold day (temps just above freezing), an most things are closed, but that does not prevent us from getting out to investigate. We walk along the main drag, Via Roma, as well the two main squares it leads us to: Piazza Castello and Piazza Reale.

On the latter, the majestic Royal Palace is open to visitors. We duck in to check out the free stuff (the grand staircase and views on the excavation of the original -- 1645 -- foundation) to get out of the cold, and then drop by the nearby Cattedrale di San Giovanni, home of the Holy Shroud of Turin. The shroud is only put on display very rarely, so we can only see some well-lit photographical images of it; I remain a skeptic of the "miracle."

Next, it's a chilly walk over to the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in a structure built in the late 1800s, at one time the tallest building on Earth with a spire rising 552 feet over Torino.

Fortunately, a Cantelonean restaurant across the street, Samoa, is open, so we can warm up and refuel. Fortunately, there are some surprising beers with which to wash down our pizze and calzone: Estrella, an OK lager from Baecelona's Damm brewery, Leffe Radieuse (the only time I've seen this red beer outside of Belgium), and yet another Italian sweet lager made with maze, G. Menabrea e Figli.

Fortified one again, we brave the crowds and take in the Cinema Museum, one of the few facilities open into the evening on Jan. 1. It puts to shame similar museums in the US and UK I've been to, with interactive exhibits ranging from shadow puppets to modern filmmaking
technology. The focus is on Hollywood films, but there clips, stills and posters from world cinema as well. It's a multi-level Disneyland of Cinema winding upwards into it's conelike roof.

We leave at closing, 8 pm, and now it's time to visit the last brewpub of our trip, Birrificio Torino, which Google Maps on my iPhone shows to be only a 14-minute walk away.

A large converted space (formerly a bakery) in an otherwise commercial/industrial section, Birrificio Torino has 3 main beers: Clara (a nicely balanced Helles at 4.8), Rufus (a mildly malty 6.8 reddish bock) and Torino) a malty blond back with earthy notes at 6.9%). A seasonal Birra di Natale was unfortunately "finisima."

Birrificio Torino's Clara, left, and Rufus.

Manager Stefano Pombia is working tonight and he takes us on a tour of the 8-year-old facility and even presents us with a bottled version of their otherwise unavailable Xmas beer. Grazie!

Tomm with a Torino and Stefano Pombia.

By the time we taxi back to the hotel at 11 pm, the place is packed.

Danise and Rufus

Submitted by Tomm Carroll

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