Approach To Turin
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Turin is situated at the distance of nine miles from Rivoli; the road, which is broad and fine, is lined on either side with a double row of magnificent trees, and bears rather the aspect of a splendid royal avenue, than a highway. It lies in a direct line, straight as an arrow, which occasions a singular optical deception.
On first setting out, you imagine Turin to be just at hand; insomuch, that the way literally seems lengthening as you go; for, after an hour's driving, you hardly appear to be nearer than when you set out; which, to a traveller, eager to behold this beautiful city, is very tantalizing. At length we reached the desired object; the approach to which was enlivened by the appearance of a number of well-dressed pedestrians, moving along, in small parties, or family groups; some sauntering, others sitting on benches under the shade of the trees; but no carriages or post-chaises, no young men on horseback, gave gaiety to the scene, or presented any of that bustle and business which usually mark the approach to a capital; on the contrary, a certain quietness and soberness of aspect seemed to prevail. We noticed that priests bore a great preponderance amongst the numbers that formed the parties. We had seen little of this in France; and were struck with the difference. A mild and grave demeanour, pale, and rather sallow complexions, indications of labour and study, according well with the priestly garb, characterized the general appearance of these men, and inspired a feeling of respect and interest towards them. Such is the aspect that suits holy men; and on such, were it even delusive, the mind loves to dwell. An air of quiet, combined with the simplicity of the dresses of the women, (most of whom wore black,) gives a certain sombreness to the scene; singularly contrasting, in our minds, with the bustle, gay colours, and gaudy dresses, observable in the public walks of a French city. We entered Turin without passing through any military gate or ordnance; but gave our passport at the opening of a broad street, which runs (as you at once perceive all the streets to do) into the centre of the city, or great square, where the royal pa-lace stands. On this spot, before the fortifications were demolished, stood Porta di Suza; and from this point the two channels of the aqueduct diverge. This aqueduct was constructed 300 years ago, by Emanuel Philibert. It encircles the city; carries water into all the streets, flooding them daily and waters its gardens.