Saturday, October 08, 2005

2006 winter Olympic Fever





Hello Olympic Hopefuls 7 October 2005

Ok, maybe not hopefuls, but hopefully enjoying the Olympics games with us here in Italy come February 2006. At last, I am trying to write a little bit about what is happening here in the heart of "The Olympic Circle".
Bella Baita has been pleasantly and partially surprisingly busy, not only in August, but all of September as well. Hence, the lag time in Olympic updating. We have Responsible Travel to thank a bit, as our presence there has elevated our bookings and we are most grateful for their support. There are many interesting opportunities for travel on their site, so have a look thru their site sometime at
www.responsibletravel.com
But I digress....

I have to say that I think the Olympic spirit is finally taking hold and spreading as many of the Olympic projects are starting to come to fruition. When I arrived here 3 years ago you were hard pressed to find any sign of the Olympics coming to town. One locals comment was, "but it's not the Olympics”, i.e. the summer Olympics. I have noticed a palpable difference as there are starting to be signs of the event everywhere. We ran into a sculptor from Breckenridge, CO in Torino, this summer who had just finished work on a sculpture in Sauze d'Oulx for the games.
Neve and Gliz (Snow and Ice) the local mascots of the games are starting to turn up on this and that, pizza plates in the local Carrefour grocery store, thermal tote bags to take your take your refreshments when traveling to and from events, and here and there, sliding down the slopes in the Atrium Olympic display in Torino.

This past weekend, Pinerolo local celebration of the Man in the Iron Mask (alleged imprisoned twin brother of King Louis XIV), featured Peter Gross, Italian World Cup champion from Sauze d'Oulx, as the secret Iron masked Man. He spoke eloquently about the games to an enthusiastic crowd in spite of rainy weather that we have had so much of lately.

Construction is still at a fevered pitch, especially in Torino, but there is completion of many of the diverse projects and dedications are starting to be almost a nightly event on our local news The last little section of the Pinerolo motorway that they fought to get done for the past 25 years now has a little sign in English stating simply, THE END.
The venues are pretty much set and ready to go, although the speed skating is still under construction, but the new train stop at the Lingotto building (old Fiat building of the old classic"Italian Job" mini cooper race fame) is finished and functioning.
The link to the airport is set to open soon as well as the downtown underground. They raised a new arch (a bit reminiscent of a red "golden" arch) over the new footbridge to connect vital sections of the Torino complex. The media village consisting of 5 high rise buildings along with a new hotel has just opened. These buildings have been built in a formerly abandoned industrial area of Torino and will be remodeled after the games and sold for affordable housing. The hotel and new shopping area will stay adding 250 new permanent jobs to a town hard hit by Fiat's woes. This will bring new opportunity for downtown Torino to breathe new life into a city with a long and interesting history, but who has not really appreciated what it has to offer.
All of that is changing and has been steadily changing since I arrived.
Old Torino is very charming and certainly worth a look round, if not only to try the coffee and famous chocolate in the many charming old world cafes around the "Kings walk". Town is still quite the construction zone at the moment, but it is exciting to see the changes. I remember when I moved to Colorado and downtown Denver was not much to see, but after putting in pedestrian mall things really have changed over the years. I think the same is going to be true for Torino. It is exciting times here.
Our president of the republic, Mr. Carlo Ciampi announced this week that he would be attending the opening ceremonies. "The Olympic Winter Games of Torino 2006 - said Mr Ciampi - is an event I have been backing ever since the promotion phases, and which I will take part in with great pleasure right from the opening day. I hope not only that our Italian athletes will be covered with medals, but also that many tourists will come to Piedmont, and that their presence will fuel the desire to return to Italy. "
We hope so too!
All in all things are changing and improving in a city that has languished in the world of tourism and now finds itself center stage.
Positive steps forward for Torino, Piedmont and Val Chisone too.
We hope you've got the fever too.
More soon.
Marla & Fabrizio
Bella Baita B&B
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