Just like the kitchen is the beating heart of any Italian house, Turin's kitchen is in the Porta Palazzo Market, the largest open air market of Europe, located right down-town and where all the different cultural groups meet daily to shop. Not only the larger streets leading to the market such as Via Garibaldi, the hipster tiny piazzas, where the locals go for a drink and an apericena (tapas like meal), but also the lanes around the market hide a lot of interesting things.
Even if the Borgo Dora neighborhood is going through a make over, the staple symbols of this area are still there: Sermig, the oldest one and Scuola Holden, a younger yet very famous institution.
This area is a synonym of food and social commitment, in fact, Sermig or Servizio (service) Missionario (missionary) Giovani (young people) - was founded in 1964 with the aim of defeating hunger and promoting equality, development and education among the poorest populations. After the initial projects focused on third world countries, this group of engaged young people recognized there were needy groups withing Turin too so, it included local projects too and it now plays a key role in the city charity and volunteering activity.
Historically, a military arsenal and weapon factory has always been located in the Borgo Dora neighborhood, with the passing of the times the military had vacated it and since 1983 this is the Serming headquarters. Given its peaceful values and programs the arsenal building has been reconverted and consequently renamed the peace arsenal.
Thanks to the army of volunteers, besides the Turin one there are also 2 other peace arsenals: in Brazil and in Jordan.
Today, the peace arsenals host refugees, needy, disabled, immigrants, single mothers, sick people; it offers meals, clothes, work through workshops and educational programs; medical examinations and even medications. everynight almost 2,000 sleep at the arsenals and almost 3,000 meals are served!
When we went two nice sheep dogs welcomed us. We saw the peace bell and experienced a huge wave of peace. there are always many TV reports and articles about Sermig and its activities as they keep growing and serve an always larger portion of the population.
Visiting it though really gives you an idea of the mighty power of such a community and its values.
Interestingly, in the same area and in a nearby military barrack, Scuola Holden, a creative writing school that takes its name from the protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye - Holden Caulfield, has recently found its home.
Founded by Alessandro Baricco, the Turin's author of Silk, many Italian young authors have studied at Scuola Holden or teach there, like our 2014 guest speaker, Fabio Geda.
Borgo Dora in Turin isn't just a melting pot of cuisines, the largest open air market in Europe, a huge flea market rich of vintage treasures, or the colorful neighborhood of many immigrant communities, it is also the historical headquarter of Sermig and the new location of the trendiest creative writing school. With its earthly, spiritual and intellectual souls, it is definitely an area of Turin where you can experience the first Italian capital from its beating heart!