Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.
C/Orto Urbano is a short documentary film directed by Luca Lanni and his team of filmmakers and actors for a local festival called Assaggi Doc and sponsored by MunLab, Regione Piemonte, Provincia di Torino, Piemonte Movie and Strade di Colori e Sapori. They beat six other finalists to win first prize at the festival and recently attended the premier at MunLab’s main workshop, an eco-clay museum in Cambiano, used to promote local events and projects.
I met Luca and his sister-in-law Sonia Rossi to find out more…
The film, affectionately referred to as C/Orto, was the brainchild of Davide Toniolo, whose talents in both journalism and radio inspired him to add another genius to his list of skills, that of writing for documentaries.
Armed with the criteria for the film festival entrants, which was to produce a documentary about organic and sustainable living, Luca and Davide approached Comune di Chieri who had set up a project to turn disused wasteland into productive, community driven vegetable plots.
They asked the Comune if they could film some scenes there to promote the project, which was quickly accepted. The Comune had created space for a hundred vegetable plots lovingly tended by local enthusiasts with space also set aside for local school projects and for community service volunteers. The plots work much in the same way as a condominium. There is a manager and each plot owner has to cover expenses for such things as water and cutting the grass. At one hundred euros a year this is not bad!
And all the better, since tending a plot is indicative of support for a much wider cause: the desire for encouraging and strengthening social relationships and ties, the desire to go back to a simpler, more natural time when people where more in touch with the earth and nature’s natural cycles.
Luca and Sonia tell me that they had permission to film on the land but now they had to come up with a winning formula for the documentary…And here the genius was born that ultimately ensured they would be the winners of the Assaggi Doc competition. A story…
When I first saw the film, I didn’t want it to finish. It is only 15 minutes long but the story that unfolds is entertaining, absorbing, comical, touching, poignant…and at the same time, it is clear that through this story, a serious message is being conveyed.
Local actor Gabriele Bocchio plays the part of Artemio who, in the opening scene, is following a TV cookery show one Sunday and preparing the ingredients to make a quiche. On realising he will need more Tropea onions, the most important ingredient in the quiche and the symbolic element of the story, he despairs…Looking down at the newspaper wrapping for the eggs, he sees a local article about the vegetable plot project. A flash of inspiration hits at the thought of free Tropea onions and he cannily whizzes down to the plot. Armed with plenty of disdainful attitude about getting his shoes muddy and red Vespa dirty he is no match for the plot owners who cunningly advise him that to get his Tropea onions he’ll have to set to work on his own plot…in order to finish the quiche…
In all, Luca Lanni, Davide Toniolo, Gabriele Bocchio, Livio Ninni (photography and graphics), Sharlene and Loris Prospero (production and audio), Sonia Rossi (voiceover) and the vegetable plot owners may be filmmaking amateurs but this short documentary is slick, professional and packs a punch with its message.
I wish them the best for the future promotion of this film, because of the hard work they put into it and for the drive and dedication to local projects and sustainability that makes this an important piece to watch.
C/Orto Urbano will be online soon…
* Photos reproduced with kind permission by Luca Lanni
San Salvario, up and coming district in Torino, boasts a reasonably priced and stylish hotel with a broad appeal. Owner Tommaso (aka Tom) first opened Tomato’s doors at via Silvio Pellico,11 in November 2011.
Turin born but raised by parents who travelled regularly for a living, Tom’s inspiration for Tomato began to take shape while working around Europe to finance his own travels in his early twenties. Struck by the range and quality of low cost, backpacker style accommodation, particularly in Germany, he decided to challenge the often negative image this type of accommodation has in Italy, and opened his own place right in the heart of Torino.
The result is a light, bright, stylish, fun, informative, professional hotel with an informal, friendly vibe. Apart from resting tired heads, you can hang out with an international crowd in the breakfast area, sip local wines under the gazebo on the patio, grab a coffee and a pastry from the bar and use the PC.
Refer to the blackboards scattered throughout the downstairs area to plan your day – the one behind the reception desk tells you they can supply hairdryers, razors, shower caps, t-shirts, umbrellas, pillows, clothes hangers, quilts, adapters, kettles and alarm clocks.
You’ve also got plenty of suggestions for exhibitions: what’s on in San Salvario each evening, museums not to miss, wines that you simply must try and, of course, since this is Italy, land of cuisine that you simply must sample - recommendations for local eats.
However, if you need to, you also have the use of Tomato’s kitchen on the lower floor – and who can tell us who the man and woman are in the plaques on the far wall? Is the man Silvio Pellico himself?
Back upstairs, you can also rent bikes by the hour or for the day or simply slouch on the sofa and leaf through shelves stacked with novels, and plan your next trip by consulting Tom’s huge collection of Rough Guides.
I asked Tom where he had come up with the idea for the name Tomato. I didn’t see it at first, but it’s a play on words - Tom at Torino (Tom-a-To). He chose the word ‘backpackers’ for the informal, youthful atmosphere he wanted to create and ‘hotel’ to emphasis the fact that this is not simply for travellers, backpacking around on a budget but it has a much broader appeal, with business people, band members and theatre companies having all enjoyed Tom and staff Annalisa and Ben’s hotel hospitality.
In fact, so successful has the hotel been that Tom is already looking to expand in the San Salvario area. His pet project is sustainability and so he chose the new windows and heating system with this in mind. Through a project called ‘eco-label’ he also plans to eliminate the plastic used for the toiletries and the breakfast jam containers and biscuit wrappers with the ultimate aim to have a functioning hotel that produces as little rubbish as possible.
Photos reproduced by kind permission of Tom, Annalisa & Ben at Tomato Backpackers Hotel
Flair is obviously something that Mark has in abundance, and not only in the workshop and on stage. Anyone who chooses to travel to South Africa from the UK on a container ship clearly has an eye for the unusual and creative.
Mark Charnley came to Turin just two years ago but has already made a big impression with his creative credentials as Cabinet Maker, Specialist Painter, Design and Restoration Services and…actor. With a background in Graphic Design from Northampton University, Mark spent his years prior to landing on Torinese turf working as a Kitchen Fitter for prestigious UK firm, Mills & Scott, specialising in hand-painted cabinets. Lucky enough to be born at the right point in history for honing his craft; Mark learned highly specialised techniques and tricks of the trade from a dying breed of traditionalist cabinet-makers, and now links that with the production of 3D graphics, giving the customer a highly professional impression of their final designs.
Creativity is something that Mark appears to have been born with. It courses through his veins with a passion and he confesses to me that when he’s working on a design project, he gets totally revved up with artistic vision, almost scaring his customers with his bursts of inspiration. Ideas pour forth for transforming an old, tired looking wooden cabinet into a Chinese crackle-glazed vision of sleek sophistication, and a rather serious looking wrought iron bed was brought happily back to life with delicate swirling motifs of vines and birds in subtle earthy colours. Mark can also do practical: DIY jobs don’t phase him, custom-built shelves – no problem, decorating – nothing to it.
Mark has also discovered the theatre. Not only did he create the hand-painted theatre backdrops, and do the graphics for the promo leaflets and posters for the English Theater Torino (ETT) production of Only Yew in December 2012, he also starred in one of the lead roles.
His newfound talent for treading the boards has taken him completely by surprise. It’s something he admits he would never have done if he had stayed in the UK; but a desire to meet new people and a few contacts later Mark found himself firmly ensconced at ETT and of course, found that he had quite a flair for it!
Contact Mark Charnley at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rehearsals are getting well underway at English Theater Torino (ETT) where preparations for Little Red Riding Hood got off to a raucous start. Organiser Sally Rava has prepared an alternative take on the original story by peppering it with plenty of well-known songs to rouse the hopefully rowdy audience of children on October 5th.
The production will be put on for the Moms and Tots Group, part of the International Women’s Club Torino (IWCT). On Monday, there was some concern about how the weather may affect the casts’ voices in October. The set will be installed in the middle of the generous host’s garden, so they’re hoping that Indian Summer days will not send the audience fleeing for the shady trees on either side of the lawn, which means they’ll have to find even more energy to make those voices carry; they may well have to once the kids catch sight of The Big Bad Wolf, who was getting right into character during script reading on Monday!
There are over 20 active members of ETT including around 12 or so actors. The amateur theatre group though, is always on the lookout for enthusiastic theatre lovers who would love to join the cast or crew. On Monday, it emerged that they are in urgent need of a Woodsman (male or female) whose role it will be to save Little Red Riding Hood from the drooling jaws of The Big Bad Wolf.
It also came up that the lead male role in their big production of the year Blithe Spirit (written by Noel Coward) has recently transferred to Varese and so has had to step down from the role. This means that ETT is making a casting call for the role of socialite and novelist Charles Condomine who invites the unconventional clairvoyant Madame Arcati to his house to conduct a séance, in the hopes of gathering material for his next book…
If anyone would be interested in either part, you just need to have the enthusiasm and commitment to be able to attend rehearsals on Mondays and or Wednesdays…and a good ability in English. Contact email@example.com or simply turn up at rehearsals at Corso Casale 112 on Mondays 7.30-10pm or Wednesdays 7.30-10pm. However, before you do check the website www.englishtheatertorino.com before you venture out, as sometimes there are changes to the schedule.
Following closely after the success of “I Mille Volti del Piemonte, Crocevia tra Storia e Letteratura” by CRAL Sezione Visive della Regione Piemonte at Ufficio Relazioni con il Pubblico (URP) in via Arsenale, 14/g Torino, the VI Mostra d’Arte Figurativa ed Astratta was the third in a series of four exhibitions this year by the group of artists and ran from 5th-20th July at Palazzo della Giunta Regionale in Piazza Castello 165, Torino.
Curator and exhibition organiser Gianfranco Gavinelli, once again did an excellent job in presenting a rich mix of paintings and sculptures by local artists, which was free of charge to the public. I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the exhibition by Gavinelli himself whose commentary, observations and evident love for art brought the pieces vividly to life; even one of the security guards quipped how a commentary about the artists, their inspiration for the paintings and some guided information about their techniques, made you see the paintings from a completely different perspective.
Among some of my favourites during the tour were: Dede Varetto’s delicate charcoal and vibrant oil panels that had real “wow” factor and made their presence felt in the exhibition room for their size, use of colour and the sheer skill in producing such a life-like piece of her daughter. Family was also to be found in Rosa Prestigiacomo’s “Eleonora” and “Marilyn”. The earthy reds and yellows of the oils and pastels on canvas produced fresh, modern portraits of her daughter and the global icon.
For a summer theme, Natalia Alemanno’s “Castello a Licata”, a night scene using acrylics on canvas, and Sergio Bilucaglia’s “Minorca” brought back memories of Mediterranean holidays. “Riposo al Casolare” by Gianfranco Gavinelli evoked mental pictures of lazy summer afternoons. Two truly refreshing paintings, appropriate for a hot summer’s day, were Paola Porta’s dewdrop kissed “Orange” and “Red Apple”, both looking succulent enough to eat.
Umberto Zullo’s “Balconata sul Po”, “Autunno” and “Rustico” were a definite nod in the direction of Piedmont and a reminder that autumn is just around the corner… Autumn was also represented in Umberto Viapiano’s “Quiete all’Alba”, a stunning painting which was quite rightly chosen for the exhibition posters and leaflets.
On a more miscellaneous note, and demonstrating the open theme of the exhibition, Paola Targa’s “Cavalli nella Prateria” oil painting on canvas made you want to reach out and stroke the horses. Franca Pessone’s intricate “Viso di Donna Liberty” painted on ceramic was wonderful not only for its subject but also for the intricacy of workmanship and, we couldn’t fail to mention Nicoletta Pizzetti’s set of four still life paintings of three dimensional jugs, fruit and glasses that really brought the “life” back into the still life theme for their composition and vibrancy of colour.
We will also be fortunate enough to see CRAL Sezione Visive della Regione Piemonte return to exhibition space from 26th September, at Museo di Scienze Naturali di Torino. This time there’s a theme and the artists’ brushstrokes will be inspired by local subject matter: “Natura e Tradizione del Paesaggio Agreste Piemontese” (Nature and Tradition in the Rural Landscape of Piedmont). See you on 26th September.
“I Mille Volti del Piemonte, Crocevia tra Storia e Letteratura”, was one of the most recent in a series of four exceptional exhibitions this year by the CRAL Sezione Visive della Regione Piemonte. Curated by Gianfranco Gavinelli, the exhibition was on display at the URP (Ufficio Relazioni con il Pubblico) in via Arsenale, 14/g Torino, where the CRAL Sezione Visive show their works annually. Local art critic, Enzo Nasillo, spoke at the inauguration on 27th May, proving that Turin is starting to sit up and take notice of its local talent.
This year’s exhibition showed works by thirty-one local artists. A whole cross-section of traditional styles and methods of painting were on display from figurative to fantastic art, in portraits, landscapes, pictures of wildlife and local historical battle scenes: acrylics, watercolours, charcoals, coloured and lead pencil, collage and oils vying for attention on canvas, paper, ceramic and board.
In memory of the heroics of Pietro Micca, who is said to have sacrificed his own life to save the city of Turin in the Siege of 1706, we saw “Sfilata in costume al Palio di Pianezza (TO) per le celebrazioni del 1706” by Anna Borgarelli. Other paintings too were strongly influenced by local battles, from “Consegna delle armi del Saraceni al Marchese Arduino Gabrione Conte di Torino (906 d.c. in Valle di Susa) and “I Profughi” by Gianni Sesia della Merla, to “Chieri nel Cinquecento by Gianfranco Gavinelli.
Other notable works were inspired by the archetype of the adventure novelist, Emilio Salgari, whose battles with nature, villainy and colonial struggle fired the imagination. A series of artworks were on display under this theme: “Salgari” by Sergio Bilucaglia, “Le Tigri di Mompracem” by Antonella Bovino and Franca Pessone, and my personal favourite “Il Ruggito” by Luciana Yaia Bertaglia.
The quality of works on display combined with the enthusiasm of the artists and the hard work and organisation that goes into the exhibitions is such that they deserve full recognition and support from the citizens of Turin.
VI Mostra d’Arte Figurativa ed Astratta, the current exhibiton by CRAL Sezione Visive, now showing at the Regione Piemonte offices in Piazza Castello, 165, ends on 20th July. Hot on the heels of this will be an extra exhibition date from 26th September, at Museo di Scienze Naturali di Torino. Entitled “Natura e Tradizione del Paesaggio Agreste Piemontese” (Nature and Tradition in the Rural Landscape of Piedmont), this will be one to look forward to…
Adrian Petersen, founder of www.italianreflections.com, first came to Italy in the 70s and 80s, perusing the optics and eyewear trade fairs in Milan in his role as optician to Harrods, in Knightsbridge, London. Fast forward to 2007 and Adrian, along with his wife, Sandy, chose Piedmont as their retirement destination of choice where Adrian had the inspiration for a website aimed at “…travellers, settlers and expats alike…”
I met Adrian for a relaxing interview over an espresso or two at Eataly in via Lagrange, where he filled me in on how he and Sandy made the choice to settle in Piedmont; the inspiration for the website and its collateral social networking platforms, and plans for the future development of Italian Reflections.
Adrian told me that his first choice for retirement bliss had been to settle somewhere across the border in the South of France. However, the sky high property prices, suffocating volumes of traffic, comparably high crime rate and consequentially high insurance premiums, led their search into Piedmont; a region full of fond memories for Adrian, where he had had the chance to explore on his days off from the trade exhibitions in Milan and business meetings in Turin.
When I asked Adrian how he had come up with the idea for Italian Reflections, he explained that he had always been interested in the internet and new technologies so he started up as a blogger in 2007, when blogging was just taking off. He started off writing two or three articles a month for ItalyItalia, NileGuide and Jetsetter; online travel magazines, offering information to global fans of Italy, about Italian destinations, hotels, food, wine and culture. However, the current trend of squeezing more and more out of contributors for less and less, led Adrian to the decision to set out on his own.
Up and running for just over two years now, the Italian Reflections website is in a class of its own in that its contributors and featured expats all reside in Italy; so are able to give in depth, unique insights and advice to potential visitors to the Bel Paese.
Among the various sections, you can read through a vast range of food, Italy and travel expat blogs. There is a section called ‘Expat Extras’ that features expat resources to make the process of settling into Italy as smooth as possible, and also allows those who miss their homeland products the chance to shop online, and get them delivered easily to their Italian homes. ‘The Bookshelf’ is an exhaustive list of reading material in print and ebook format, written by many new and also experienced expat authors, about their wide ranging and inspirational experiences in Italy.
But Italian Reflections doesn’t just feature writers and bloggers; you can also find information about expat artisans who create wonderful objects using glass, natural stone, wood, clay, iron, ceramics, and paper. And, of course, who could forget the agriturismo, B&B, villa and apartment rentals! A wide range of options are on offer covering the northern, central and southern Italian regions. Many Italian experiences are also featured such as organised art tours, city tours, cooking classes, cycling tours and wine tasting tours.
To make keeping in touch with Italian Reflections as effortless as possible, and to give instant access to the regular updates and news, Adrian also set up an Italian Reflections Facebook Group page which now has over 850 members. This is a closed group, since, as Adrian explained, it’s important to be able to manage the page, encouraging collaboration, fairness and a sense of community and support for the members.
Italian Reflections is a new project that has gained increasing exposure since its conception just over two years ago, when Adrian first started the site as a hobby to connect with friends and family back home. He is obviously delighted at how successful it has become in such a short space of time. Last year, for example, Italian Reflections took over Italytutto’s listings of over 270 English language blogs from Italy at the request of Sheila Parry. He confesses that maintaining the Italian Reflections website now takes up much of his free time. Day to day duties include checking that potential new members to the Facebook page are, in fact, expats and residing in Italy; monitoring the various conversations and feeds and editing Italian Reflections Daily, “…a daily updated compendium of Italian news configured by embracing social media and feeds across the web…” and the new Italian Reflections Magazine created on Flipboard, which is available for free download.
Adrian, as many others working in the Italian tourist industry via social media, stresses that he wants to get people to understand the bigger picture in Italy, allowing people to see in depth what Italy really has to offer. By publishing articles, interviews and information about the services and experiences people can have via Twitter, Facebook, Italian Reflections Daily and the Italian Reflections Magazine, he hopes to make his own contribution towards achieving that aim.
However, he says that, with 850 plus members, much more could be done to increase their own exposure to the outside world. The website gets a lot of traffic and since it is vastly more expensive to advertise through other channels, it could be opportune for members with small businesses to pay the small listing fee and promote their businesses via the site. Another idea could be to post notifications on the Facebook Group page. When, for example, a B&B receives a short notice cancellation, get the news out there and someone may snap it up.
So, if you are an expat residing in Italy you can contact Adrian at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the Italian Reflections Group (IRG) on Facebook, or if you just love Italy, simply check out the Italian Reflections website to be informed and inspired by all Italy has to offer.
Page 1 of 8