Wednesday, August 24, 2016

military feathered hat

Italy is definitely one of the few countries where fashion has always made its high style way also in the military. Military uniforms have always had a certain allure but what about the sense of endurance and pride a bersagliere hat still conveys to Italians nowadays?

Bersaglieri have such a supernatural endurace, they almost fly
This military corps was created by Turinese General Alessandro La Marmora, a big expert of military technology, in fact he had a workshop in his house to build and test new things. During his life, he traveled a lot to study other countries' armies, tactics and armaments. He finally died from cholera in Balaklva during the Crimean War, at 56. 

monument to La Marmora in Turin, at the La Marmora gardens
A high-mobility light infantry unit since always, Bersaglieri are recognizable by their distinctive wide brimmed hat, today worn only with the uniform. This hat is decorated with black capercaillie feathers applied to their combat helmets. Back in 1800s, the feathered hats sheltered hunters and marksmen from the sun. They are also famous for running instead of marching, during parades.

King Charles Albert of Savoy
Bersaglieri were presented to the Italian King (though still King of Sardinia back then) on July 1 1836 and he made them immediately part of the regular army.
As the Kingdom of Sardinia couldn't afford a big cavalry, a quick-moving infantry corps was necessary. Bersaglieri underwent a big endurance training and encouraged to take some initiative and being independent in order to better operate in smaller formations without a direct command.
When the First Company was presented in 1836, they marched through Turin with the same rapid, high-stepping gait (180 paces/minute) used in World War II and later.
Today's Bersaglieri still run both on parade and during barracks duty - or they'll be punished!

Throughout the nineteenth century the Bersaglieri filled the role of skirmishers, screening the slow-moving line and column formations, but they also acted as special shock troops when required. They were originally intended to serve as mountain troops, as well.
Around 1855 they fought in the Crimean War and this is where they adopted the red fez with a blue tassel they still wear as a daily hat.

Garibaldi Brigade of the Bersaglieri wearing the fez, 2007
Bersaglieri are especially famous for  capturing Rome on September 20 1870 and putting an end to the power of the Pope, thus completing the unification of Italy. This is when they starting running instread of marching and since then it's become their trademark.
After WWI, Bersaglieri were converted into bicycle troops to fight alongside cavalry in the Fast divisions. Bersaglieri gave Italy highly trained formations suitable for service with both cavalry and tanks. In 1939, Bersaglieri regiment was allocated to each new armoured and motorised division.

Bersaglieri on their bicycles in Via Roma, in Turin in 2013. Please notice there are women too!
During WWII, Bersaglieri fought in France, Greece and  East Africa. Today, Bersaglieri regiments are all mechanised and they serve as peacekeepers in the Multinational Forces. Their traditions are still alive: their collar patches are crimson-red "flames", they still wear the red fez - the official their hat  and in 2011, they introduced a black berret; officers wear black berets with their ordinary uniforms, but the feathered hat in ceremonial uniform. They also wear black gloves to show how they defy death - unlike the rest of the Italian regiments who wear white ones.

Each Bersaglieri unit had a band called a "fanfara" - today only 3 remains - and they still play their instruments at the run while on parade; their faamous march is called "Flick Flock". The "fanfara" does not contain percussion instruments and the Bersaglieri are the only military band in the world that plays running!

Bersaglieri in Afghanistan in 2012

At the beginning of Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck you can see a great clip of a Bersaglieri fanfara.
Needless to tell you, since 2000 women can be bersagliere too, wearing the same uniform, fez locked on their hair with two barrettes and feathered hat with the uniform!

Click here for a beautiful gallery shot in Turin!!

Special thanks to Alberto Bonis for his drawings :D

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Turin's downtown castles

Piazza Castello: Palazzo Reale - the Royal Palace and Palazzo Madama - the Queen's Palace
Thanks to its long tradition of capital of the Savoy kingdom, Turin hosts many royal palaces located downtown, on the river, on the hills and in the suburb.

Today we'll tell you about the Piazza Castello or Castle square royal palaces: Palazzo Reale, the king's residence, and Palazzo Madama, the queen's residence.

Even though Palazzo Reale - the Royal Palace, doesn’t have the usual castle look with the dungeons and the moat, it was indeed the first royal residence in Piedmont and the political center for about 300 years.
Duke Emmanuel Philibert I of Savoy chose it as its residence when he made Turin capital of the Savoy kingdom. Up to that moment, this building had been the bishop residence, so the duke hired an architect to redesign it to properly host him and his court.
As the royal palace was being renovated, he lived in the nearby Palazzo Madama. Back between 1500 and 1600, many artists were hired to decorate the royal palace façade we see today, with the masks of the Savoy dynasty.

golden masks decorate the royal palace gate to close the royal part of Piazza Castello
Over the centuries different famous architects designed and redesigned the royal palace, the piazza and even the nearby Duomo, where the Holy Shroud is preserved.

 the Holy Shroud of Turin is in the Duomo

The Royal gates were realized in the 19th century to separate the small royal piazza from what it’s now Piazza Castello. After 1861, when the capital of the United Kingdom of Italy was moved to Rome, this Palace became a museum.

Inside the Royal Palace there is an awesome café: caffé reale. This is a great stop after visiting Palazzo Reale or after visiting the Porta Palazzo market and the Roman ruins.
This royal coffee shop is hosted where the royal silverware used to be kept back in 1700s and many items are still displayed today along the walls of the café thus enhancing your royal experience!

Caffé Reale double check online for the hours, located inside the palace!
 Right in front of the royal place there is Palazzo Madama or the Queen’s Palace.
This is the perfect example of how different architectural styles and historical periods stratified in a single building, where they are still visible. In fact, you can see the medieval part with the dungeons looking on Via Po, the baroque and neoclassical side looking on to Via Garibaldi and part of the central Via Roma.

Palazzo Madama frontal 1700 façade
The "Madama" of the name reminds of the Queen who lived in this Palace, and actually two queens got to call it their home.
The two back towers were originally built on the remains of the ancient Roman settlement gate that closed the city. In 1637, Christine Marie of France, wife of Duke Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy, chose it as her personal residence, leaving the royal palace to her husband the king.
The Palace gained its name 60 years later, when Marie Jeanne of Savoy also chose it as her personal residence and she also requested Filippo Juvarra, the royal architect, to redesign it in Baroque style, with white stone. Unfortunately, the works stalled and only one side of the Palace façade was completed.

Palazzo Madama on the side where the medieval towers meet the 1700 part
After 1721 this Palace was used for many purposes: royal art gallery, senate and high court and since 1934, it’s been the Museo delle Antichita’ or Ancient Art Museum, museum link.

Inside Palazzo Madama there is another impressive coffee shop with a very good wi-fi and an amazing view on to Palazzo Reale.
The museum and all the temporary exhibits hosted at Palazzo Madama are definitely always top but the café window and chandeliers will really amaze you!

Both the royal café and the Palazzo Madama coffee shop are good, however, the first one is open to the public and is accessible from the courtyard of the Royal Palace, while the second one is accessible only to the museum visitors.
Also Palazzo Madama has a top terrace with a breathtaking view over Turin!

No matter the season you make it over here, you just can't miss these two castles and savor our vida royal!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Torcetti cookies

Food and wine in Piedmont are a real lifestyle, after all Piedmont is the Italian top wine producer, cheese making region and homeland to Slow Food and all food sustainability philosophies and... it also produces a high variety of cookies!

Let's face it, cookies in their simplicity have the high power to make a bad day into a good one when we dunk them in wine or to start our day in the best way, when we have some for breakfast!

Cookies are easy to make, thus have the big power of making us feel at home away from home. When professionally made they bring us back in time and can also add a touch of royalty to any coffee break.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pietro Micca:Turin's hero

How Pietro Micca saved Turin from the French in 1706. Drawing by Alberto Bonis

Turin downtown resonates with history and anecdotes; and as Turin is a bit like Manhattan with many things to do even for kids, it is easy to get intrigued by the many fascinating stories and museums.

Pietro Micca is one of our local heroes, one of the central streets in Turin, and of course, a very interesting underground museum too!!

Today, Via Pietro Micca is a diagonal  street full of shops connecting Piazza Castello, the castle square, to Piazza Solferino up to Bar Norman, on the way to the Porta Susa station.    
It owes its name to Pietro Micca the guy who sacrificed his life to save Turin from the French siege in 1706.

Back in 1700, Turin was much smaller compared to today and it fit in a walled area on the model of the medieval fortified towns. The citadel was located in a slightly higher area or it was as series of towers to make sure nobody could enter the town.
The Turin's citadel had the shape of a walled pentagon with cannons placed at the corners to chase any potential intruder.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

TurinEpi 16 thanks

We would like to take a moment to thank all the people that made Turin Epicurean Capital 2016 possible and whose help brought us to the prime time news on the regional branch of the Italian national TV on June 22.

Friday, July 8, 2016

TurinEpi Fri 24 2016

This third edition of Turin Epicurean Capital finished on June 24th: Saint John the Baptist day! 
Being Saint John Turin's patron saint, our guests could take advantage of the 4th-of-July style fireworks and celebrations ;)

Monday, July 4, 2016

spicing up Piedmont cuisine

On June 23 at 3pm the Turin Epicurean Capital cooking class taught by Patrizia Nobile of Tastinglife and Chef Lamberto Guerrer, started at the Associazione Cuochi Torino.
Patrizia and Lamberto decided to put together their know-how and offer a class about the best of the Piedmontese cuisine and a couple of ingredients ordinary in other world's cuisines but yet totally unknown in Italy.

Chef Lamberto Guerrer, ACT presdent and Patrizia Nobile of Tastinglife