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Riding the glass elevator
By nine o'clock it's already quite warm and the ladies of the Torino city gardening services are out mowing and strimming the grass in the park.
After a quick nip of coffee and a marmalade filleed croissant I am braving the rush hour crowds on the bus. I am on the route to the university, and the bus driver plays that well known Italian game of "get as many people on a bus and see how long it is before a) a fight breaks out b) someone faints c) an English girl posts a blog about it. In today’s case he scores a hat-trick and all three help the journey pass with the kind of adrenaline rush that coffee can't replicate. All we need now is for Dennis Hopper to get on and "we've got a movie"
At my stop, courage fails me , there are 10 feet and 30 students in betweeen me and the pavement, so I just stay on until the crush thins and walk back.
I am at the "Mole" a kind of St Paul’s with a huge spire on the top. It was initially built as a synagogue but when the money ran out the architect persuaded the city to come up with the money and make the building a tribute to the King. The spire is a pretty tricky feat of engineering and had a few false starts, not that I know anything about engineering but I read that in the information leaflet, but you knew that didn't you.
The main building houses The National Museum of Cinema, which is right up my street. First though I get to fulfill a Charlie Bucket fantasy and ride the great glass elevator that travels up the middle of the building through the spire to the top. The spire section, which makes the building about about 157 metres high is only two metres wide and the walls are only 12 cm thick, and did I mention that the elevator is glass, and that it goes through the middle of the building with no walls around it just hanging from cables until it reaches the height of a 15th floor and disappears into the spire.
Those of you warrior women like me who are no friend of heights will be sharing my slightly sweaty palmed moment as I waited in the queue. I was momentarily distracted from this dampness and concentrated on gnashing my teeeth instead as the two Americans in the queue in front of me did not even attempt to speak any Italian and kept asking unecessary and complicated questions about getting a reduced price ticket to the cashier in loud English.
Sooooooo as I was saying, the lift (ascensore) well it just appears to float or fly, gliding upwards into the vast space of the building as it opens up around you , it is amazing, a bit like that scene in The English Patient where Juliette Binoche is pulled up on a rope to look at the frescoes by torchlight. Ok so I'm overdoing it, but really it was pretty magical, levitating in the centre of a beautiful cathedral like space with a glided dome. I'd like to do it again.
At the top there is a reassuringly sturdy balustrade and I took some great pictures of the mountains in the distance.
I do get to do it again as it is the only way back down. Having done that bit I then go into the cinema museum. This is kind of divided into two sections, the normal and the wholly bizzarre. The first section is all about the history of how the moving image came to be the film that we know now. It's pretty hard to find your way out of this section and I went round it about three times and was whipping myself up into my second mental health crisis of the day when I did something I don't usually do.
I asked someone who worked there the way. Miraculously it worked and they swept a red velvet curtain aside for me and I made it out. Feeling in need of a bit of "a sit down" by now I headed for the cafe. Now my name’s not Prince Harry and so it is a long time since I stumbled out or into a night club, but this cafe looked like one.
The room was darkly lit. The tables made of thick glass that was lit, inside and underneath. Little booths with clear plastic chairs dipped in pink were shrouded in posh mosquito netting. In the centre was a long table with 20 chairs down either side. Each place setting had an interactive screen set into it and buttons to press with a menu telling you about the museum. The colour of the table kept changing from Easter chick mellow yellow to pink then moody mauve and deep blue. I was in the coolest cafe I have ever been in and just as I was about to get a coffee and try to look cool a group of 20 Italian schoolchildren came in. They bange their bags on the table and sat down either side of me. I have never felt so invisible, in fact I quite liked it as the pulled silver foil packages containing white bread with the crusts of proscuitto sandwhiches, and hard round "bocconino" rolls with mozarella and formaggio. They all chatted in Italiano rapido to each other as their teachers patrolled up and down exuding more formidability than I ever managed to muster in a dining room with a hundred adult male prisoners.
I munch a cockle shaped ricotta cream filled lovely that has the crunchy pastry wrapped around it making pretty layers and have the usual tiny cup of hard hitting juic that fuels Italia.
On to the second part of the museum. As I enter I wonder if the crazy cafe lights have had a hallucenegenic effect on me as looking around me I feel like Alice following the white rabbit down the hole. A surreal mix of classic architecture and hammer house of horror is laid out before me. A 20 foot high statue of an Egyptian God somehow doesn't sem abnormal next to a 12 foot high open fridge complete with huge "eat me" milk and groceries.
A replica 1950s American sitting room and a crazy scientists laboratory are just some of the suprising delights that make this the most fun museum I've ever been in. Two huge cinema screens hang on the wall playing snippets from golden oldies and a fleet of sunbed style red velvet covered seats are spaced out in front of them for you to recline on , and reclining is my signature position .They are the most comfortable cinema seats ever with speakers in the headrest . I don't know where they sell them or how much they cost but I want one.
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