It’s a relief to roll into Turin. I check into the centrally located youth hostel and set off to see the sights. The town is bustling. It has doubled in size since the end of the war as Southern Italians flood into Italy’s Detroit looking for work at Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. They are part of the Italian Economic Miracle – transforming the country from poor and rural to wealthy and urban.
Torino’s grand piazzas were mostly built from the 16th to the 18th centuries
under the Dukes of Savoy who controlled this neighborhood and became Italy’s royal family at unification in 1861 – the first time the peninsula had been united since Roman times.
The House of Savoy was responsible for establishing a final resting place for its most famous possession – The
Shroud of Turin. Tradition says it was brought from Constantinople by a French knight in 1349. Inherited by the Savoys, they eventually brought it to Turin in 1578. It’s been in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in the Guarini chapel since 1694.
The shroud shows the image of a man who appears to have suffered the physical trauma of a crucifixion. (Its authenticity is still being debated and if you want to know more, the shroud has its own website – www.shroud.com – that goes into all the details.)
Whatever it is, it is very impressive and I am lucky enough to be there when it is on display.
I decide to treat myself to a coffee in one of Turin’s atmospheric cafes, and reach inside my bag for my wallet. It’s not there! I paw through the bag in total panic. My first day in Italy, and I’ve been robbed! All the money I have for the summer is in that wallet. I fight tears as I sprint back to the youth hostel and tear apart the backpack I left lying on my bed in the dormitory.
My wallet is there – and nothing is missing. My very own miracle! The elation of a saved summer has me floating.
There is still the matter of finding someone to hitchhike with me to Genoa. At dinner in the hostel dining room I find a candidate. I’m good to go!
Next: Genoa and Decision Time