It was not obvious walking around it on a recent weekend that Turin is an appendage of the supposed economic sick-patient (recent strong Q4 GDP data notwithstanding) that is Italy. It looks a thriving (if the number of top-end luxury kitchen and furniture shops is anything to go by), handsome city. And clean - which is a sharp contrast to this scribe’s last visit in 1990 when it was a grimy World Cup football venue.

17 years ago Turin impressed this fan with its carefree parking style, hard-bargaining laundry ladies, brazen transvestites and friendly pick-up games of footee in Parco Valentino. There was also the unexpectedly difficult matter of finding accommodation when one of your group was black: guest books were shut in our faces; and the few black faces on the streets were Senegalese selling leather goods on the pavements.

Today, the African hawkers are still there; and fellow immigrants have arrived in numbers to the same (though less now) run-down neighbourhood between Porta Nuova and the Po where this scribe and friends eventually holed up with partying (until the last 16) Brazilian fans in 1990. How smoothly this social transition has gone, your scribe could not say. But the demographic shift appears substantially greater than that caused by the immigrant numbers attracted in prior decades to man Turin's factories.

The daily market, for example, in Piazza della Repubblica (by far the largest this tourist has seen anywhere) is a testament to the significant immigrant presence and their economic impact. Halal butchers, Chinese merchants of electronic goods and African clothing vendors are as numerous, it seemed, as the Italian farmers and fishmongers.

Historical Turin remains impressive and quite apart from this world: the Mole Antonelliana, Palazzo Madama (where the Sardinian standard bearer pictured stands) and as many stunning churches, chapels, piazzas and museums as one might care to wander into. Yet the over-arching parting impression of Torino was of the unexpected economic energy that a controversial aspect of contemporary globalisation has shot through the classical Piedmont city.

A Risorgimento Economico perhaps.

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