We begin the evening that is to end the year with a dinner at our Airbnb complete with prosciutto, cheese, bread, and wine. The perfect and simple Italian dinner. But before it gets too late, we head out to the center of town to the Piazza San Carlo.
There is live music on a large stage at one end of the piazza. There are people selling silly, light-up, new years themed hats. A couple of the bars around the piazza are open, but much too crowded to consider entering. Groups of people are sending up flying lanterns. The music shifts from folk to pop to opera and back again. The crowd continues to file into the piazza.
New Years Eve in Torino from Andrew Stein on Vimeo.
As the midnight hour draws near, people start pulling out their plastic cups and bottles of champagne. Others prepare their sparklers and fireworks. And others just keep watch of the time as if the entire crowd isn’t about to countdown from 10.
The part of this scene that we weren’t quite prepared for was the shock waves sent through the piazza from the fireworks. It is almost as if bombs are going off all around us. It might seem safer if the fireworks weren’t being thrown into the air haphazardly by crowd members, but as a result, there is almost a chaos that breaks out at midnight. Fireworks, sparklers, and music all combine for a crazy finish to New Years.
Kind of like Disneyland, this day featured Matterhorn as our backdrop. We start the day early from Torino as we drive our rented Fiat 500 towards Cervinia and the mountains. As we drive, night turns to dawn, and the mountains along with Roman ruins in their foothills come into view.
We aren’t entirely sure what we are getting ourselves into. The mountains are relatively naked of snow, the weather warm, we haven’t really packed a lot of ski stuff (as we both only brought carry-ons), and we’re hoping it’s going to be easy to figure out lift tickets, rentals, and the rest. We are also hoping that I’m going to be able to manage the narrow, mountains roads in our manual car.
After a couple false starts like the most convenient rental spot being out of skis, we hit the slopes just as the sun is hitting the entirety of the mountain. And although they are having to make some of their own snow, our first several chair lift rides to get up the mountain are as spectacular as we imagined they would be.
Usually while skiing (for the once-every-other-year ski trip I typically take), I enjoy chili in a bread bowl with some grated cheese on top for lunch. It turns out Cervinia doesn’t have this on the menu. We grab our trays and enter the line not really knowing what’s going to end up on them by the end. We immediately grab a pair of rolls (which turned out to be free… we should’ve gotten more) and some nice cheeses. We continue down the line, skip the prosciutto, reluctantly skip the buffalo mozzarella, and then order some pasta. The lunch is a delicious reminder that we’re definitely still in Italy. We eat sitting outside overlooking the Alps.
Before the day wraps, we make it to the top of the mountain. The winds are heavier, the temperatures are a little colder, but all is worth it because the views are even more spectacular. Surrounded by mountains on every side, I feel at the same time so small and so big. And as we ski down the last run of the day, the sun slowly slips behind one of these peaks leaving only the tops of other mountains still in light. Exhausted, we find a local coffee shop on the road back to Torino for a cafe dopio and a chance to flip through the many pictures so we can immediately relive what we just did. Looking at these pictures kind of feels like looking at the picture of yourself with your hands raised in the white and red carriage of Disneyland’s Matterhorn already feeling nostalgic for the amazing day that isn’t quite yet over.
Many streets of this northern Italian city are decorated with thematic sets of lights to celebrate this festive time of year. There are a series of birds carrying a string. There are strings of words that make a story. There are lights in the shapes of constellations. The colors around Torino make exploring all the more fun!