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The extraordinary houses of Turin

A chat with Laura Audi

Today we are with Laura Audi, owner of Somewhere Tour & Events, inbound provider of tourist services, who in this case, however, plays the role of author of Le case straordinarie di Torino, a volume published by Newton Compton, which reveals the secrets of many places in the city, which have extraordinary stories to tell us.

Laura tell us: who is Laura Audi?
Laura Audi is an avid scholar and lover of Turin, which, in a time when everyone prides itself on being local, is indeed Local by some incarnation. Only in this way can we explain the deep love I have for this city and for all its mysteries, for its curiosities and also for its history which is often unexpected and tough.

How did the idea for the book come about?
Somewhere Tour&Events was born out of my love for Turin and in the wake of my mentor, writer and journalist, Renzo Rossotti, the book Case Straordinarie di Torino was born with the aim of uncovering gems, curiosities and anecdotes not known at all.

Laura, you are used to describing the city orally. How different, if it was, was finding the book's entry?
I actually found the voice of the book by taking up a narrative that is dear to me. Storytelling is essential for us because it is what brings you into the soul of the city and makes you fall in love with it. I was not alone in this writing but Piergianni Ciravegna, Clarita Bona and Miriam Visalli collaborated. We looked for a narrative similar to that of our tours because we wanted reading the book to be like following a hypothetical itinerary of the city while sitting comfortably on the sofa at home.

How is your Turin?
What I have always liked about Turin are all its hidden traces, so many as to be considered esoteric. Turin on the one hand is magical but it is esoteric in the Greek sense of the term: esōterikós means hidden from most and Turin is vaguely a Chinese box: every time it opens, it reveals new stories, new people, ghosts and anecdotes.
Inside the magic box of Turin there are, as Rossotti would say, many other small boxes to open and listen carefully.

Turin has many houses that can tell extraordinary stories, how did you choose the ones that make up your story?
I focused on houses that have been rediscovered thanks to recent renovations. Many writers such as Giuditta Dembech and Renzo Rossotti had already talked about some of the important buildings in Turin, but in the last ten years a certain recovery of historic Turin has brought new stories to light. I cite, for example, the story of Quadrato, which brought to light a Roman domus, stratified inside a 17th century building or the story of Nostradamus, who lived in Turin. They are all grains of silent stories that a skilful restoration has managed to pull out of the dust of history and we have given them a voice.

Is there an anecdote in the book that you are particularly fond of?
I found it amusing and incredible to discover that the story I was writing about had a true and present even if very hidden testimony. I am referring to the story of the Gran Bogo, a character who has almost been lost in the collective memory of Turin. He was a funny character who, during the Turin carnivals of the 1800s, was adored in Palazzo Graneri by all those who played dress up to transform their own self. While I was studying the Gran Bogo I went to the Circolo dei Lettori, which has its headquarters in Palazzo Graneri, and in the archive in a corner I found the statuette of the Gran Bogo, which had not been lost as believed, but was just waiting for someone would find out. At that point I thought that, if the Gran Bogo had spoken to me, I absolutely had to dedicate a chapter to him.

What, in your opinion, is the extraordinary house best valued?
There are many, although some have not been developed at all although they have incredible potential like some villas on the hill.
Imagine that the Turin hill was a place of delight in the 1600s and later, when those villas were abandoned, it became the ideal set for Dario Argento's great movies.
Villa Becker, for example, is in a decadent state: it has its charm, but it deserves to be enhanced.
Then there are some villas on the plain that are unknown to most. I believe that many Turinese have entered the Tesoriera park at least once, but few have seen the 18th-century villa inside. In fact, the halls of the villa preserve incredibly beautiful but little-known and little-seen frescoes. Everyone is invited to go and discover them.

Somewhere was born in 1997. How has the way of describing places changed today compared to twenty years ago?
In reality, when I started, my partner, Nicoletta Ambrogio, and I were really two pioneers. Nobody imagined that Turin had something to tell and the way we had in mind to do it was very important for its success. We immediately understood that the narration had to be aimed at everyone, at various levels, so we had to unhinge the too academic schemes.
So the idea was born of using costumed actors, to break the space-time barrier and lead the visitor to immerse himself in the story. We chose the night because at night the city transforms, becomes magical and esoteric, more suited to the storytelling we had in mind. Our method of storytelling hasn't changed much over time, we may have been ahead of the times because today involvement is the key to understanding many tours.

Laura Audi is also Donne nel Turismo, a sector where the presence of women is quite significant. Can the female voice make a different contribution to innovate the sector also towards a more experiential and more responsible tourism?
I would say that in tourism female quotas give a very high value, in the first place because tourism is hospitality and hospitality has something to do with female DNA but also as a type of narration, understood as a way of bringing the tourist into your world and tell him. Our being within Women in Tourism is of fundamental importance because within the association there are all the women who, at managerial level, have to do with tourism. We talk about women hotel managers, tour operators, like me, guides and they are all people who can tell what happens, from their point of view, in tourism and in this way, network and exchange opinions to perceive in advance what is happening. Synergy is fundamental: one cannot speak of tourism except as a very strong collaboration between the parties. A tour operator, a hotel do not exist by themselves; there is a team of people who value the cultural heritage of a place and who decide to focus on it. A hotel is not just a room, a tour operator is not just a guide: everything is the story of the territory

Turin today is no longer seen as a gray industrial city, it has rather become the city of beautiful discovery. What does it lack to become a certainty or, in your opinion, is never fully discovering yourself an essential part of its charm?
In my opinion, Turin is like very beautiful women. They only let themselves be discovered by those they love and only little by little. Turin has been hidden for a very long time but precisely because it has been so little exhibited, it reveals itself as a precious jewel to all those who come to the city for study, work or tourism.
Turin, however, has already become a certainty because over the years it has increasingly been chosen as a destination for cultural weekends. She put on a beautiful cloak of elegance, nobility, sometimes even a bit of snobbery, because she was aware of her beauty, to show off.
The feedback we get from those who come to Turin is unanimous and everyone says: what a nice discovery.

I Turet a Torino

Simboli torinesi: i Turet

Mehr, More, Mas, Più - Torino

Arte contemporanea a Torino: Mehr, More, Mas, Più

Piazza Castello a Torino

Piazza Castello a Torino

Quadra-TO a Torino

Quadra-TO a Torino

Le Case straordinarie di Torino