Well, if you don't know by now that Doug rows then you've been living under a rock. While living in the Mannheim, Germany area, he has rowed for the Mannheimer Ruder-Club. The city of Turin (Torino) hosts a large single sculling event each year called the SilverSkiff. It is an 11km race with a 180° turn in the middle on the River Po. It seemed like an interesting challenge, so what the heck? Doug has now raced in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland, and now Italy. He finished in the middle of the pack, if you wanted to know.
Erynn found a nice B&B, or agriturismo, about half an hour outside of town that was quite nice: Agriturismo Parva Domus. It was run by a lovely couple, but it was remote to say the least.
It took a bit over seven hours to drive from Mannheim to Turin. We made several stops for the little one, and to eat. The highlight of the drive was going through the 17km Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland.
The plan for the long weekend was to race on Sunday, check out Turin on Saturday and visit the towns around our B&B on Friday. On Monday after the race we drove back to Germany and had a quick stop in the town of Como for lunch and to check out the place. The weather on Friday was great, but it was crap on Saturday so we didn't see much of Turin. Luckily the weather cleared for the racing, and Sunday turned out to be a perfect rowing day.
For full resolution photos from the trip to Turin and northern Italy click here.
Here are a few shots from the Agriturismo Parva Domus where we stayed. They provide a nice, light breakfast every day, and on days the owner cooks you can enjoy a wonderful dinner.
Getting to the place from the main road was a bit harrowing. However, it had a nice view from the top of the hill as you can see from the sunrise photo in the lower right. The photo is a bit washed out due to the light, and me never being perfectly happy invested in some photographic filters for the next trip.
On our free day we drove around the area of our B&B based on some recommendations of the owners. Our first stop was the tiny town of Albugnano. The little hilltop town had a nice church and some amazing views of the mountains and valleys in this part of the world.
We had our car with German number plates, and Doug got to meet a nice German retiree who had moved there many years ago with his Italian wife. It was a small town...
Just up the hill behind the church was a beautiful little park that was a memorial to all those lost from the town from various wars. I took a few photos of the scenery, but it was a bit hazy so they didn't turn out very well. You can get a sense of the haze in the left photo. However, if you're interested you can see them here. In the mean time you'll have to make do with photos of my two lovely girls having fun.
Next up we drove into the town of Asti where we did a little shopping (bought Jerod a hat) and had lunch. We parked the car in the Piazza Medici (above) right in the center of the city. Unfortunately, one of the highlights, the Torre Troyana (tower) was closed. It was November after all...
While walking to find a place for lunch we came across the Collegiata di San Secondo (right building in the left photo), and being disposed to visiting old European churches we stopped for a peak. It was a very nice, old Italian church.
After lunch we walked around a bit and stopped in front of this church. It was locked, but more importantly, it had a ton of pigeons. Our little pigeon hunter went into action! Fortunately, she's quite slow and came home empty handed...
We stopped back at the car and we ready to go when I discovered another church in the guidebook we hadn't seen. In fact, it was the main cathedral for the city so it must be worth a look. Right? It was closed.
Probably the highlight of the entire trip was our short stop at the tiny town of Cortazzone. It was probably the weather, time of day and the lack of other people that helped make it special. Greta had been a trooper all day in the car and letting her run around the grounds of this old Roman church, the church of San Secondo di Cortazzone, was pretty special.
Here is a photo of the town of Cortazzone from the rear of the church. Still a bit hazy...
After our fun at the church we drove across the town to have a look. Pretty little town. I thought I grew up in a small town...
The host of the rowing regatta, the Canottieri Cerea (right photo), is located directly behind the Castello del Valentino (left photo). Everything in this area is now part of a big part along the river with lots of activities and places for kids to play. Super nice.
We spent the very wet day before the race walking (trying) around Turin. On the left you can see the wet, empty Piazza San Carlo. We parked under the piazza and then headed quickly to the incredible Egyptian Museum -- an indoor activity!
The treasures inside the Egyptian Museum are amazing. The lesson learned is to be first in the country when everything is being sold... The museum houses the second largest ancient Egyptian collections -- second to Cairo!
The left photo shows Ramesses II. The middle shows mummies of three sisters. The right photo shows one of the many (many!) halls of Egyptian antiquities.
Here are a couple more rainy photos of Turin. The left photo shows the Piazza Castello with the Royal Palace in the back right. In the right photo you can see the very rainy farmer's market we visited. We bought some very nice sausage and cheese in case you were wondering.
Behind the Royal Palace is the Duomo di San Giovanni (Turin Cathedral), which houses the famous Shroud of Turin. As you can see the Shroud itself is behind protective glass and under layers of protective cloth. I got yelled at for even taking this photo. One is supposed to watch the short informative video about the shroud, then make a small donation, and then gaze upon the... well, not the shroud. This was our last stop for the day and we headed back to our B&B for dinner.
Behind all good rowers is an amazing support team. Erynn and Greta were fantastic this weekend dealing with all of the logistics and weather. The verdict for me was 83rd place out of 168 Master Men competitors. My time of 53 minutes 28 seconds was good enough to qualify for next year's race with a better starting position. 55 minutes is the qualification target.
You can see more photos from the regatta here. I put a GoPro camera on the bow of my boat for the first time and got some interesting shots. Plus, Erynn got some greats pics from the shore as you can see above.
In the park next to the regatta course is the Borgo Medievale (Medieval Village). Can anyone say Renaissance Faire? It was interesting, but there were tons of people and all of the exhibits were in Italian. We didn't want to eat with our hands nor buy some frankincense so we left for our B&B.
Inside the Borgo Medievale Greta was only interested in playing with the fountain and flower petals. I love the picture on the right because it captures a couple of the phases she was going through at the time: sticking her tongue out like Michael Jordan when she was concentrating and feeling compelled to stick her hands in the water.
The next morning we woke up and drove home. On the border with Switzerland is the town of Como. The area is more famous for the lake with the same name, but we needed to stop for lunch and this seemed like a nice place. The pictures above are from the shore of Lake Como at the center of town.
The town itself didn't have much to speak of. There was an old city wall, some decent churches (closed), some shopping, and some places to eat. However, the closer you got to the lake the buildings turned into more 1960's brutalist than one would expect or hope for. There are a bunch of other picturesque towns along the lake that would be worth a trip, but alas, we'll have to wait for another trip.
The picture on the left is the Basilica San Fedele. The middle and right photos are of the Como Duomo (Como Cathedral).
I'll leave you now with a couple pictures of our little pigeon hunter...
© 2012 Doug Rathburn