A Masters friend of mine, Sivan Portal, gave me a useful piece of advice before I left for Milan. She said, “take every opportunity you can to travel, use that student card to go everywhere, spend all your money and free time on exploring new places.” I’ve taken that very seriously from the outset of The Milan Plan.
One of the frustrating things about living South Africa is its geographic isolation. Travelling anywhere is expensive, time-consuming and limited. Europe is like a large country. A few hours by train or plane and you’re in another country. You travel over boarders so easily that you can be reading a book on a train and in an hour people speaking a completely different language will be boarding the train at its next stop.
So last weekend Mum and I took a one-night stay-over trip to Turin. Turin is an ancient city with a lot of spectacular historical qualities to recommend it but there are two things people commonly know about it. Firstly it’s home to Juventus, arguably the most successfull football team in the world. Secondly it is home to the controversial and very fascinating artefact, the Shroud of Turin, where it has been housed since the 1500’s and is claimed to be the burial shroud of Jesus.
Mum and I however decided to visit the Museo Nazionale del Cinema which is a brilliantly put together museum of cinema through the ages. A great amount of effort has gone into making it a functional museum rather than a place you walk around looking at things in glass cases. All the cinematic equipment through the ages works and displays the first kinds of movies and cinematic clips. Movie-set style installations showing clips from cult classics and displays of original costumes and signed original screenplays are pretty fantastic to behold. The skirt Cameron Diaz wore in Scorcese’s Gangs of New York was a particular favourite of mine.
To top off the museum experience the centre of the building is a large drive-in style cinema where you can recline on soft red bed-chairs with speakers embedded in their head-rests and watch carefully curated movie clips from a variety of independent films in an array of languages from over the years on giant screens.
The whole museum is housed inside a national monument called the Mole Antonelliana which for many years was the tallest brick building in the world. It’s red brick-work is sensationally resilient and arranged in arcs and sweeps and you can take a glass elevator to the top and get yourself an unprecedented view of Turin all the way to snow dusted mountains that create the natural boarder between France and Italy. The pic for this post is that glass elevator on its way up to the top of the Mole Antonelliana…taken from one of those superb reclining red movie chairs.