The northern Italian town of Verona is celebrating Carnevale (the pre-Lent Carnival) today with a grand parade. We were there to see the parade a few years back. It is reputed to be one of the oldest Carnevale celebrations in Italy and was larger and more spectacular than we had expected.
As well as the Paris Meridian, which we featured yesterday, we have been to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to see the “Prime Meridian of the World”. It’s amazing to think that this small line is the reference for all measurements of longitude and time around the world.
The great French astronomer and mathematician Francois Arago was born on 26 Feb 1786. He isn’t as well known as some other 19th century scientists, but is notable for his work on latitude and longitude. He also developed the light polarising filter, discovered eddy currents and helped to explain the origin of the aurora borealis.
He was a champion of the Paris Meridian and you can find medallions like the one above along the meridian line. Outside the Paris Observatory (below) you can even see the line marked out in the ground. And if all that sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because it all comes up in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code.
As well as the old Fiat plant which we featured in the previous blog entry, the suburb of Lingotto in Turin also has the National Automobile Museum (Museo dell’automobile). It has great displays illustrating the history of the automobile. We liked the 1954 Fiat Turbina above. It has a top speed of 250km/hr and looks elegantly futuristic, in a 1950s fashion. The display below shows the sites of all the car factories that used to operate in the city, showing that Turin is the Detroit of Italy.
When we were in Turin a few months back, we went to the suburb of Lingotto to see the old Fiat Factory (above). It was converted into a multifunctional centre with shops, etc in the 1990s, but it still retains its proud industrial architecture. Just along the street there is the amazing Eataly food market with restaurants, bars, cafes, gelato shops and more. Why can’t all food halls be this good?
The Egyptian Museum wasn’t the only thing we liked in Turin. Since we have a thing about castles, we were impressed by the Palazzo Madama shown above. It is like a medieval castle at the rear with a baroque palace added onto the front, and takes its name from the two queens who expanded the palace in the 17th and 18th centuries. Inside there are plenty of sumptuous rooms to explore, like the Camera di Madama Reale below.
We also enjoyed looking at all the skeletons, mummies and sarcophagi in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy. The cat sarcophagus below is especially cute and does indeed contain a mummified cat. It dates from somewhere between 712 and 332 BCE.