Full Circle

Panorama: Ivrea's Centro Storico

For the final stop on our journey around the Piemonte, we headed east and then north to Ivrea, headquarters of Olivetti, known as the makers of Italy's typewriters.

Ivrea was also the home of my maternal grandmother, Angiolamaria Salvioni. But I know next to nothing about her life there. By the time I was born, my grandparents lived in a beautiful big apartment in Naples overlooking the bay. That's where I would visit them in the summers from the States.

As always, we headed to Ivrea's "centro", the hub of activity of any Italian town. I went to the Caffe Roma in the main piazza and asked for a local phone book to see if there were any Salvionis I could call.

I was so disappointed to find that there wasn't even one Salvioni in the phone book, so no thread for me to quickly follow. I asked an elderly gentleman at the bar if by any chance he knew any Salvionis. He didn't.

So there was nothing really to do besides discover Ivrea, a pleasant little city divided in two by the river Dora Baltea. The historic old town of Ivrea is on the north bank of the river, while the more modern part of town is on the other side.

It's the old part of town that's always nice in Italy, so we strolled through the cobblestoned streets (in the snow) and I thought of my lovely grandmother, wondering if she ever came out on one of the wrought-iron balconies I saw or stood beneath one of the town's graceful arched iron lamps.

And I thought too of myself, and who I am.

All week, when I introduced myself to the many Italians I met, I told them I was a "giornalista Americana," an American journalist. The most common reaction I got was but, you're Italian. I would respond yes, I was born in Italy but raised in America. I certainly didn't feel I could introduce myself as an Italian journalist.

Other times I've been in Italy, when I haven't been working, I just say I'm Italian. But then, I often get quizzical looks and questions about what part of Italy I'm from.

I just can't win with this Italian, American thing here. Whatever I say, they doubt me. Maybe it's just time to accept that.

It's been special for me to be here just a month after the death of my Piemontese mother. And I hope it's been fun for you too.

It's only been a taste of the Piemonte, I know. We couldn't make it everywhere in a week. There are beautiful places we didn't get to.

My conclusions are these: Piemonte has some lovely spots that are definitely worth discovering. And Torino, the Olympic host city, is a magical place. It felt great to get back tonight.

I envy everyone who is coming here soon. And I know I'll be back to stroll under the porticos again.

Panorama: Ivrea

By Daniela Deane |  January 27, 2006; 4:10 PM ET  | Category:  Ivrea , Torino
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Tracked on February 12, 2006 06:54 PM


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I have read all your posts, mostly for that subtle curiosity that locals (I among them)have about discovering what a foreigner sees and thinks of the places they are used to see.

You wrote brilliant pages and since this post looks like a farewell, I would like to tell : "Come back soon, Mrs Deane"

Posted by: PV | January 27, 2006 05:40 PM

Thanks for Ms. Deane's lovely travelogue. Of Italian ancestry, I married a Torinese in the late's and lived there for several years. Of my special memories: the way the mists shrouded the winter ground at the Valentino Park, making its medieval castle, il Borgo Medievale, rise up magically like a figment of one's imagination; my mother-in-law's polenta, hand-stirred for 45 minutes, served with Porcini mushrooms, rabbit or Gorgonzola, and glass of new Barbara; the way the street vendors called one's Madamina, instead of Signora, and the Po river with its elegant bridges, winding through the city. Torino is indeed a hidden treasure, best savored slowly by the unhurried tourist.

Posted by: Nancy Forbes | January 29, 2006 02:14 PM

A candy from Ivrea: In the Middle Ages there was a pretty girl, son of the baker of the village. The prince of that place want her and he tried to kidnapped her with violence. All the people assaulted the prince's castle with stones and sticks giving freedom to the girl. Every year, during carnival, there is a battle fought with oranges: the prince's soldiers -- on cars pulled by horses -- against the people. Every part ("rione") of the city is against the others and all the city is full of orange scent. Important: dress with something of red, if you aren't a combatant.
saluti da torino

Posted by: giacomo bugliarelli | February 1, 2006 05:24 AM

A nice blog, and I'm glad you are enjoying your time in Italy.

One thing that keeps annoying me in all the Olympic coverage is the constant references to "Torino." In English, the name of the city is Turin. No one refers to Roma, Napoli, or Venezia when writing English, but somehow the Olympic committee has branded the games "Torino" and everyone in the media is calling the city by that name. To me, it comes across as silly and affected, much as when American tourists come back from Hungary and pretentiously say "BudapeSHt" in conversation.

What's next, "This is Bob Costas, reporting from Torino in northern Italia?"

Posted by: Zeke | February 1, 2006 07:56 PM

Bravo, please send Mrs Deane to Orvieto, Siena and Vicenza. I would love to read her impressions of these less traveled towns! This was better than any trvel guidebook.

Posted by: daniele | February 5, 2006 11:39 AM

I really enjoyed the articles about Piemonte (Piemunt in Piemunteis ) My wife and Ii are from the province of Cuneo, so it was refreshing to read them. Thanks.

Posted by: J. Rosso | February 5, 2006 02:44 PM

What a terrific journalistic and sentimental journey! Kudos for making me want to be there too -- seeing, talking, eating, drinking, and visiting such a welcoming region -- but especially for seeking out the homeland of long distant family. The Olympics aside, what a great experience in time, place, and value. "Con affetto" to Dani....

Posted by: Terry Sollom | February 5, 2006 08:53 PM

To zeke:

Hey, man, it won't kill you to learn a few words in another language, and Italian especially. Think of this: all the non-Americans try to pronounce the American cities' names as close as possible to the original. Sometimes, not even all Americans pronounce the words the same. If I were anti-American, I would give you the "ignorance and lack of courtesy" speech, but I won't.
Also, think of the marketing side of it. The Games are not just for English-speaking public (yes, I know, as much as a surprize for you, there are other languages on Earth), so it's better to go with Torino, which can be better identified when in Italy or online etc.
The Italians didn't went in 2002 to the Olympic Games in La Citta del Lago Salato. They went to Salt Lake City...

Posted by: Sebastian Manoleasa | February 6, 2006 10:03 AM

I was at the orange-throwing festival in ivrea a few years ago and it was pure, wonderful madness. i took a few photos that can be found here: here.

Posted by: catherine | February 6, 2006 04:30 PM

Love your blog and articles about the town, truffles, wine and people. Bravo and welcome home!

Posted by: Mary Hartley | February 16, 2006 06:07 PM

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