The night before last night the temperature dropped considerably and we woke to snow on the rooftops. The visual signature of snow has been in evidence for some time now in the Alps, but then it dropped in. Literally. We are living at rooftop level.

The day before yesterday was mild. We hopped on Tram number 16 with the intention of taking a good long walk up into the foothills on the other side of the Po, or in the park that runs alongside. Before we got there our attention was caught by a market that we hadn’t seen before.  It stretches along a street parallel to the Po, a thoroughfare called Madama Cristina.

There were a curious assortment of vendors on both sides of the street running for a couple kilometers, perhaps, selling everything from new knickknacks to old clothes, silver to fine linen tablecloths, pots and pans to foodstuffs. My partner came across a wool hat that suited her (which came in handy later on), and I found a place to rent a bicycle for a ride on the next nice day that comes along.

Our major purchases were three jars of delicacies that we ended up carrying the rest of the day. Turin is the new gastronomic center of Italy, in case you were thinking of heading for warmer parts of the country. Claudio, the young farmer who helped provision us, has a farm about an hour from the city. Fortunately, he spoke reasonably good English. Otherwise, our exchange would have been quite limited.

Our delicacies included: antipasto Peimontese, cogna, and crema di funghi porcini. Cogna is similar to chutney, a sweet paste that goes well with meat and cheese. It has figs, apples, pears, grape must (I’m not sure about that translation) cloves, hazel nuts, walnuts, lemon, and cinnamon. The antipasto is delicious, a specialty of the region made, in this case, from fifteen different ingredients. The cream of mushroom sauce is potent enough to put off all thoughts of winter. Porcini mushrooms, olive oil, tomatoes, celery, and more. Simply delicious on plain toasted bread.

Increasingly, this city reminds me of Montreal. There is the same dedication to food, fine clothes, cars and craftsmanship, and a nod to the ever-present obligations of family and Catholicism. Electricity seems to be cheaper than plastic, and I would bet it is for the same reason—massive amounts of hydro power. Hardly anyone bothers to pay for tickets on the old trams and buses that run with amazing regularity throughout the city. Vast areas indoors and outdoor areas are heated with abandon.

When I descended into the street from roof level to do my morning shopping, there was no snow in the street, but it was barely above freezing. A sharp wind added a chill to the actual temperature. On my market run everyone I passed was bundled up with hats, mitts and scarves.

It looks like winter in Torino has settled in for good.

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