(More than…) Two Years in Torino

"Le cose belle sono lente." –Pane e Tulipani

Month: September, 2013

Stedelijk Museum

I’m just adding a few more photos from the Amsterdam trip, now that I’ve had some time to do some other things. These are from the Stedelijk Museum. I find that modern art museums make fun places to goof off with a camera, even if I do have problems with focusing in low light. But I’m too lazy to look up all the names of the artists, so I’m only going to list the ones I know (see bottom):

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1. Textile by unknown (to me) artist. 2. Mondrian paintings 3. Malevich (I can still hear one of my old painting teachers, Richard Olsen, rapturously exclaiming in his Milwaukee smoker’s rasp, “Ah, Malevich! His use of negative space is perfect!” 4-7. Karel Appel 8. Frank Stella, no doubt 9-11. Examples from the product design galleries 12. Sam Francis 13. Unknown (to me) painter 14-15. Examples of graphic design 16. Chairs. Uh, oh.  I really should know this.  I think the one on the left is by the Finnish designer Alvar Aalto?


Two years in Torino

Today is, precisely, two years in Torino.  We arrived here on September 6, with a pile of suitcases and our furniture set to arrive in two months. Before we got to our permanent apartment, we moved temporarily seven times. During these two months, Bob took a business trip out of the country for two weeks.  And Sarie auditioned for the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi.

When I started this blog, I had in mind a sort of guide for the perplexed, and perhaps a bit of a happy tourist saga. Reality, and Italy, proved much more complicated. In two years, we’ve barely scratched the surface.  And we’ve changed seasons in our lives.

I may keep posting things here for a while. It makes a nice scrapbook of sorts, and hopefully I’ll look back at it one day full of perspective. But the blog has fulfilled its purpose as a sort of dare to see if we’d stay two years or longer. As I suspected, it’s longer.


I visited the picturesque town of Haarlem (for which Harlem in New York City is named) twice; once by myself and once with Sarie and Alberto. Unfortunately Sarie didn’t feel well when she went, but she and Alberto did get to visit my favorite thing about Haarlem, the Corrie Ten Boom house. The tour group was crowded that day and I had already been, so I decided to stay outside and allow others to go in. I went to an archeology museum instead.

On the previous trip, when I took the Corrie Ten Boom tour, the docent was a lively and trim woman who was a good bit shorter than the average Dutch person. She had been a little girl during the war and remembered the last, hard winter in which the townspeople ate sugar beets and tulip bulbs because there were no rations left. People starved in the streets. And of course, those were the people who hadn’t been rounded up and shipped off to prison or concentration camps.

She told Corrie’s story with conviction and faith. She was clearly a believer. When she told about Corrie’s analogy of our lives being the back of a tapestry, the front of which is only known to God, I teared up.

And yes, I got to step into the Hiding Place!

It wasn’t just a museum tour. It was really a pilgrimage. Now I can now imagine really well how things must have looked as the story unfolded at the little house on Baarteljestraat. In the museum, they only allowed photos in Corrie’s bedroom, and mine didn’t come out so well, so I’m going to link to the museum’s website instead.

On my first visit to Haarlem, I also went to the Frans Hals Museum.  Frans Hals is the 17th C. Dutch Old Master famous for his quick knife-like paint strokes and his ability to catch a spontaneous smile or gesture in oils (quite a feat before photography, and truly, still a feat).

Below I’ve posted some photos of the characteristic brick buildings of Haarlem (starting with the Corrie Ten Boom house), the Frans Hals Museum, and finally St. Bavo’s, the town church.  I can’t find our copy of Meindert DeJong’s Shadrach at the moment (though it was one of Sarie’s favorite books and the first chapter book she ever read), but I seem to recall that the young protagonist, Davy, talked about St. Bavo’s, and I’m wondering if the book is set near Haarlem.  If anyone remembers or can check, I’d love to know!

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Above: Typical brick side streets of houses and other buildings with stained glass, lace curtains, transoms above the windows, and usually a bit of decorative white trim.  The streets are graced with flowers, and entire families go out for errands on their bicycles. In the second photo down, you can see the exterior of St. Bavo’s Church on the left.

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Above: Scenes from the Frans Hals Museum.  The leather wall covering in the second photo is typical of 17th C. Holland.  The three photos at the bottom are a mock up of the meal painted in Hals’s Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard.  All wax, I suppose! Or at least, the food isn’t real!

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Above: St. Bavo’s and its famous organ, on which Mendelssohn, and Handel, and the ten-year-old Mozart played.  Like many Dutch churches, it started out as a Catholic church and then was converted during the Reformation. The white interior with columns is very typical, too. (I think Sarie took these photos.)


And finally–oh, why not!  Medieval shoes from the archeology museum.  How did they find all these, I wonder?