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Girl power in Italy
Today is International Women’s Day and in Italy they make qute a thing of it so hello and girl power to all my sisters.
I flew here to Torino, or Turin to you and me from Bournemouth for 2p return NO TAX . I have just carry on luggage and checked in online . I couldn't avoid the nasty £10 .00 bank charge but for £10.02 all in I call it a bargain. A bus to the town centre from the airport was 5.50 euros. So far so cheap.
My digs are an even better bargain at a satisfyingly round £0.00. I have arranged to stay with locals via www.couchsurfing.com This is to bed and breakfast what eBay is to bring and buy sales , although it is one step better as no money changes hands not even to the administrators. Open homed people sign up and post a fairly comprehensive but informal profile including their ,favourite films and books and "philosophy on life" as well as their "mission". You don't have to be prepared to host anyone, but the spirit of it is that you do. You don't have to have a spare room as you can as the name suggests just offer a couch to someone , most travellers will bring a sleeping bag with them.
So last night I stayed with Gianlucca and his wife Elizabetta,who are both reassuringly down to earth Italians.They are big into board games, they have a collection of over 200 and were hosting a "game night" with a bunch of friends when I arrived. This isn't some sort of closet gambling but just good old fashioned fun. They were playing what looked like the most complicated game in the world and frankly anything that involves "goblins" gives me unpleasant flashbacks to the "dungeons and dragons" club they had when I was at school. The smell of teenage boy BO that emmanated from the classroom they used for their luchtime sessions of "dungeoneering" meant I avoided the building for the rest of the day.Here it is spotlessly clean and sweet smelling .There was lots of passionate dice throwing and shouts of "Brava".
I was fed and watered with a particularly yummy slice of 4 cheese pizza and slept on the futon in their spare room. This morning they gave me a map and directions to the station and pointed me in the direction to buy a bus and train ticket for the week which costs a very creditcrunchworthy 9.50 euros, for a weeks transport! Hospitality that truly restores the soul.
As I stepped out the front door city girl and oudoors phobe that I am I could not help but gasp as I caught sight of the snowy mountains in the distance. They ring Torino, and I hear them calling to me. I can see me doing my Julie Andrews inpersonation before my week here is out.
The Corso Emanuelle Secondo puts the Gs in gentile grandeur. It actually makes the Rue de Rivoli in Paris look like a plain Jane . ( forgive me Paris) Peach facades with icing cake stucco and colonades turn a bustling city centre into a gracious avenue fit for strolling down casually in your finery .Unfortunately I am in jeans and sweatshirt. The building are topped with cute mansard windows that look like girls in bonnets and the greenery of the occassional roof garden peeps over the edge of the red pan tiles.
The Via Roma is home to the usual selection of Emporio Armani , Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo. It is also home to Paradice, parad - ice , geddit , you see what they did there. Gelato, gelato a rose by any other name would not taste as sweet.
I stand at the counter and order "un caffe" next to me it looks like they must be having a wedding reception as there are bowls and platters of olives of every colour, well, green black and brown, piles of sandwiches, cheese and chunks of salami. Well the absence of a six month pregnant girl in a white dress leads me to ditch the wedding theory and believe the guide books when they say, this is how it is in Torino, and you can just help yourself. So never being one to turn my back on free food I get my toothpick stuck in.
For dessert I have a couple of scoops of last meal worthy chocolate icecream in a crunchyumptious cone. That and the coffee set me back just under 3 euros , and this on the same street as Cartier.
I am now going in search of the chocolate festival which runs for 10 days, if my fingers aren't trembling from too much sugar I will report on it tomorrow.
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Adventurous Jenni Stevenson resigned from her job as a senior prison officer and has jetted off on a holiday of a lifetime. She is taking advantage of budget airline Ryanair's offer to fly for £1. The adventure will see her take 10 flights and visit six countries over the next few weeks.