‘Turin is a bright, dazzling place’

Brit Lara Statham had always dreamed of living in Italy but didn't think much of Turin. The language teacher tells The Local how she took a chance on the city - and didn't looked back.

'Turin is a bright, dazzling place'
Lara Statham moved to Turin in 1997. Photo: Lara Statham/Flickr

Why did you move to Italy?

I was working as an English teacher in Greece and Hungary and my dream was always to work in Italy.

In 1997 I applied for jobs with a private business language school; it had offices in Turin, Milan and Rome. I put Turin as my last preference because I didn’t know anything about it, then a job came up there!

I got the chance to transfer to Rome after a couple of years but decided to stay put in Turin.

What was Turin like when you arrived?

There were hardly any tourists, so from that point of view I could immerse myself in the local culture.

It’s a very livable place; you can get around easily and there’s a real community feel.

It has a village feel, each district has its own identity. You step outside your front door and within a couple of blocks there’s the butcher’s, the mechanic, etc, literally everything you could possibly need.

Did you make friends with Italians or expats?

I had Italian lessons, watched TV a lot and lived with Italians. So I found Italian friends; you had to learn Italian because otherwise it would have been very difficult to get by. Now that’s changed and and a lot more people in shops speak English, although there are still plenty of opportunities to speak Italian.

I started getting more involved in the expat community about three years ago and discovered it’s a large community. It’s really nice to go for aperitivo with them; you get to meet people doing lots of different things.

How has the city changed since you arrived?

The Winter Olympics were held in Turin in 2006 and everything completely changed.

The local authority invested a lot in promoting Turin abroad and there was a lot more information coming out about the city and places to go.

The city centre also had a complete facelift; buildings were cleaned up and there were new roads.

It went from being quite a dark-looking city to being a bright, dazzling place. It was incredible.

After that people took much more pride in their city, which has carried on and is still present today.

Where would you take people visiting Turin?

I’d walk them around the centre, including the Palazzo Reale and the National Cinema Museum.

I'd also take them to the Gran Madre church, the river and Parco Valentino.

For food, we'd gpo to Eataly and the huge Porto Palazzo market. You really get a sense of what Turin’s about when you go to the market, all the different types of people who live in the city go there.

The San Salvario neighbourhood is an up-and-coming area for nightlife and has a mix of ethnic restaurants.

Outside of Turin there’s Alba and small villages and towns famous for wine, while I’d also recommend Lake Orta.

What advice do you have for people thinking of moving to Italy?

Do a beginner’s course in Italian beforehand and read as widely as possible about the local area. Come over for a weekend to get a feel for the place.

Turin’s slightly off the beaten track; people who come here get a sense that they’re discovering something.

Visit Lara Statham’s This is Turin blog

Visit Lara Statham’s website

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Turin chosen to host Eurovision Song Contest in 2022

The next edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2022 will be held in the northern Italian city of Turin, organisers confirmed on Friday.

Italy's Maneskin performs during the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam.
Italy's Maneskin performs during the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam. Photo: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP

“Turin has won the race to become the host city of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest, having triumphed over 16 other competing bids,” read a statement on the contest’s official website.

“The Grand Final will be held in PalaOlimpico on Saturday 14 May with Semi-Finals on 10 and 12 May.”

“We won! Turin has won!” mayor Chiara Appendino wrote in a celebratory post on Facebook.

Italian state broadcaster Rai said Turin had beaten off competition from the cities of Milan, Bologna, Rimini and Pesaro to host the event.

READ ALSO: Italy wins Eurovision: ‘We just want to say to the whole world, rock’n’roll never dies!’

Turin will be the third Italian city to host the event after Naples (which hosted in 1965) and Rome (1991), after Rome-based rock band Måneskin’s victory in Rotterdam earlier this year with the song ‘Zitti e buoni’.

That event, watched by 183 million people, was Italy’s third Eurovision win and its first for three decades.

‘Turin is the perfect Host City for the 66th Eurovision Song Contest,” said Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl.

“As we saw during the 2006 Winter Olympics, PalaOlimpico exceeds all the requirements needed to stage a global event of this scale and we have been very impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment from the City of Turin who will welcome thousands of fans next May.”

“This will be the first Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Italy in 30 years and, together with our Host broadcaster Rai, we are determined to make it a special one.’

Turin was home to the 2006 Winter Olympics and is hosting the ATP Finals tennis tournament next month.