Turin slowly showing off charms to Olympic visitors
Posted: Friday February 10, 2006 8:35PM; Updated: Saturday February 11, 2006 12:33AM
Friday, Feb. 10, 10:31 p.m. local, Opening Blog
It took about a day to get acclimated to the scenic city of Turin and all it offers.
I asked S.L. Price if I could steal his notion that there's nothing huge going on here yet, as if the rest of the world is waiting for the Turinese to discover their own Games. He said I couldn't steal it, though I'm sure he's too busy reading La Stampa and the International Herald Tribune to read this blog.
The rule of thumb, or at least my rule of thumb, is to live and breathe in an Olympic city for a couple of days before making any Olympic-sized pronouncements about the city. At the moment, I'm still longing for Athens, dreaming of the Plaka and the energy of those Games. The Greeks played construction roulette and finished at the zero hour, but when the world descended upon Athens, it shined.
So far, Turin remains a bit of a project. There are construction cranes all over the city. The only crane I haven't seen is Bob Crane. Where is the energy? Where is the Olympic mania? The people are charming and inviting, and the food is otherworldly, but the streets are too quiet. Athens had Olympic banners and its country's flags flying everywhere. Not here. At least not yet.
The majority of SI's staff, including yours truly, has decamped in a media-only facility west of the center of the city. It has the charm of an East German detention center. The staff is nice enough but the rooms are the size of Sasha Cohen, paint is peeling from the walls, and there's a slate-gray mud pit outside of our windows.
My first image of Turin wasn't a pretty one, either. Upon departing our plane, we were whisked by a Turin Olympic volunteer to an airport bus depot that resembled a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. All around us were automobiles that read GRUPPO TORINESE TRANSPORTI, which seemed like a good sign except none were actually moving. We were told that a bus to our facility was momentarily away. Those moments turned into an hour.
My colleague Richard Demak and I were soon joined by Art Thiel, a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who, thanks to the Seahawks, had last slept sometime in 1996. He had flown from the Super Bowl in Detroit to Seattle, enjoyed a couple of hours at the airport with his wife, and then jumped back on a plane that took him to Washington, Frankfurt and finally, Turin. "I've set a record for self abuse," Thiel said.
I don't want to abuse Turin since it's gotten better every day. I spent a half-day on Thursday with senior editor Demak and photo editor Miriam Marseu, who was born in Udine, Italy, and speaks fluent Italian. Hanging out with Miriam in Turin is the equivalent of winning American Idol. She led Richard and I on a tour of the center of Turin, where the city started showing its finer colors.