Thursday, March 02, 2006

It seems so strange that the Winter Olympics have made my lovely hometown - Torino - a household name. It seemed no one knew about my city before the Games. Italy, for most people, has been Florence, Rome, Venice, but certainly not Torino. I’ve described it to people. It’s a beautiful city - the river, the monuments, the cafés, the view of the mountains. The mentality and traditions are not only Italian, they’re ours - they’re Torinesi. Now, my city is in the spotlight - its name on everyone’s lips, NBC cameramen in every corner. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials, the specials and the coverage of the Games. What you may not have seen is the café I waitressed in for a year while at university here. Pina Secchi, an older woman from Rome whose son owns the popular meeting point at the foot of the hills, would sit down in the afternoon, after starting her day in the kitchen at 5:30 a.m., and tell me about walking through Rome as a young girl during the war. She’d watch the customers filter in and out, always the same, and tell me to go eat a sandwich before I went back to work. I can show you Pina Secchi, Piazza Castello and much, much more. Thanks to good friends and understanding bosses, I was able to be in my city during this exciting time. I’ve seen Torino decorated and scrubbed, the monuments I used to walk by every day lit up for the world to see. I was able to bridge the gap between my professional life, which brought me to the U.S., and my roots, which forever tie me to Torino. For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to recapture the essence of Torino with my new eyes. It’s the first time I’ve walked these streets with my cameras, but certainly not the last. I offer you not only my Olympic experience, but my emotion and pride at watching Italy win a gold medal among roaring crowds and Italian flags. I give you Italian teenagers, festive and patriotic, but in the end just like any other teenagers. I give you the realization that Torino cannot be encapsulated in a stereotype. I give you a window into my city’s elegance and mystery, its culture and its hope. I offer you the love of home. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The band L'Os Clodos Vionnaz parades through the streets of Torino, Italy, on Saturday during Olympic night.

Giancarlo and Adelina Caporali stand in their winery, the Enoteca della Contrada, in the historic part of Torino on Saturday. The crowded space has seen generations of Torino youth pass through it's back room with Ade often making dinner out of her own kitchen to feed her young patrons.

People dance on the balcony of a private home above the open-air Switzerland House in Torino, Italy, on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006. This was the second and last Olympic night the downtown hosted with crowded streets and a festive atmosphere.

Lovebirds Valentina Arata and Marcello Maina hang out with friends at a club in Torino, Italy, on Friday, after a long week of work. A part from a festive atmosphere and a decorated city, life has gone on almost as normal for most residents of Torino during the past two weeks of Olympic games.

Giuseppina Barbero, 92, and Assunta Finetti watch the Italian athlete Giorgio Rocca start the men's slalom alpine skiing event on Saturday, Feb. 25, while sitting at home in Torino, Italy. Although expectations were high for the Italian, Rocca fell shortly after starting the race.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Luca Maggiora, 26, of Torino, said he hasn't had a chance to walk around Torino in over a month because he's been working at the main media transportation hub in Oulx, Italy, in preparation for and during the 2006 Winter Olympics. Because of a positive article written about him by a reporter from San Diego, Luca said his bosses invited him to dinner and the Lou Reed Medals Plaza concert on Thursday in Torino.

Maggiora gets a minibus to transport media members to an event venue from the main transportation hub in Oulx, Italy, on Thursday. Maggiora, 26, is overseeing transportation at the hub during the 2006 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. He is known by photographers and reporters for moving fast to find alternate transportation, such as minibuses or cars, when the buses are delayed, and for sweetalking bus drivers into doing extra runs to help him out.

Maggiora watches as media members file towards their buses at the main transportation hub in Oulx, Italy, on Thursday. He said he's met a lot of characters working the post, but that the hardest part is handling the bus drivers.

Maggiora takes a break to light a cigarette before getting back to work at the main media transportation hub in Oulx on Thursday. He has been fighting a flu the last few days but hasn't missed a day directing bus and media member traffic up in the mountains around Torino.

Maggiora gets a minibus to transport media members to an event venue from the main transportation hub in Oulx, Italy, on Thursday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A view of the Monte dei Cappuccini, a hill-top convent and church overlooking the city of Torino, can be seen behind a bell tower on Tuesday.

The Gran Madre church lights up the view of Torino's hills from the banks of the Po river.

Groups file in and out of the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista on Tuesday to see the Chapel of the Holy Shroud.

Takeshi Nishikawa (right), of Japan, was happily surprised when Bai Jie, of China, pulled out a sparkling ice skate pin from her pocket in search of a trade outside the Oval Lingotto in Torino on Tuesday. Nishikawa was set up outside the speed skating venue to trade pins from his collection of over 2,000. The pins on his jacket, however, he said were his favorites, his personal collection. Shortly after completing the trade with Jie, Nishikawa had already given the ice skate pin away to someone who had purchased 100 euros in pins from him.

Here, Nishikawa examines Jie's pins before she showed him what she was hiding in her pocket.

Mostly Americans crowd around the set of the Today show to wave home from Piazza San Carlo, in Torino, Italy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Even with the snow a small crowd of people gather in Piazza San Carlo, in Torino, Italy, on Sunday, to watch that day's medals ceremony and concert on a giant screen set up in the piazza. Between the time of night, the lights and the square itself, snow in Piazza San Carlo took nothing away from the piazza's elegance, but added an atmosphere of mystery. People take cover from the snow under umbrellas while walking through downtown Torino on Sunday. Some still stop to have their picture taken in from of the Olympic rings.

Police stand guard in Piazza Castello near the entrance to the Medals Plaza Sunday evening before the medals ceremony and concert. Piazza Castello, usually bustling with traffic and pedestrians, is closed off before every evening's ceremony.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Young Italians chat and dance to the rhythm of hand drums outside of the university Palazzo Nuovo, in Torino, Italy, around 4 a.m. Sunday morning. Just blocks away, Italians and foreigners alike enjoy "Olympic Night", with stores, bars, museums and clubs open most of the night.

A fire twirler entertains a small crowd outside of the university Palazzo Nuovo, in Torino, Italy, around 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

Michele Kane, of Senegal, works security at the door to the bar Xo`, in Via Po, Torino, around 4 a.m. Sunday morning. This is Kane's night job, which he works alongside his brother Max.

Via Po, in downtown Torino, Italy, was busier than usual at 4 a.m. Sunday morning thanks to "Olympic Night."

(From left) Brothers Max and Michele Kane, of Senegal, work their night jobs as door security at the bar Xo`, in Via Po, Torino, around Sunday morning. Michele has been in Italy for the past 10 years, his brother the past 5.

Friday, February 17, 2006

(From left) Members of the women's U.S. curling team Jessica Schultz, Cassie Johnson and Maureen Brunt compete in Friday's women's round robin session against Russia at the Palaghiaccio in Pinerolo, Italy.

Even curling athletes have to rest. Here, Jessica Schultz and Maureen Brunt take a break from competing against Russia. U.S. curler Maureen Brunt congratulates teammate Cassie Johnson after a shot during Friday's women's round robin session against Russia.

Not everyone can be a fan of curling. Here, volunteer Elisa Cappa rests in a stairwell during Friday's curling session at the Palaghiaccio, in Pinerolo, Italy.