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.
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