We arrived in Torino early yesterday afternoon after a 30 km walk in pleasantly cooler temperatures.  Following a nap I pulled out my electronic map to have a look at the Wikipedia points in the city.  “Damn,” I thought, “We screwed up, we need several days to see the sights in this city.”

We have not had a rest day since Slovenia, more than a month ago.  This is my preference when on a pilgrimage; I actually have trouble stopping for more than one night in a city.  Rather than staying two nights we often plan a shorter walk into major tourist towns to allow more time to look around.  As a result I feel that we are generally able to see the major sights, as well as wandering through the streets to get something of the local flavour.

While our time in Torino was too short, we did have time to visit the cathedral, which houses the famous Shroud of Turin.  It is stored in a special box in a chapel along the side of the nave.  At the time of our visit there were several nuns kneeling in front of it.  I ambled over and kneeled beside one of them.  “You know,” I whispered to her, “three labs carbon-dated fragments of the Shroud and determined that the fabric dated to the 12th to 14th centuries, more than a thousand years after Christ could have been wrapped in it.”  I leaned in a bit more and continued, “Another researcher took contact samples of the “blood” and found that it was actually ochre pigment rather than blood.”  The nun appeared visibly shaken.  Oops, slipped into magical realism.  Of course I didn’t speak to the nun, though the research results are as stated.

The highlight of our visit to Torino was not one of the tourist sights, but rather a visit from our pilgrim friend Paolo.  We met him in France on the Via Francigena in 2012, and had dinner together the following year on the Italian portion of that pilgrimage.  Paolo is also one of our few friends that has walked the entire Shikoku pilgrimage, which he wrote an excellent short book about.

Paolo went to university in Torino and spent some additional years there.  He showed us the public market area and other favourite haunts before taking us to a minute Japanese restaurant, just five seats at a counter.  And while I could happily eat Italian food every day for the rest of my life, it was wonderful to have an authentic Japanese dinner.  Afterwards we walked to the train station with Paolo before taking his recommended route back to our hotel: more than a kilometre of almost continuous arcades.  We must return to Torino for a longer visit in the future.

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