Turin Stays Up All Night

Known as a staid, quiet and industrious city, Turin got the party spirit in a big way over the weekend. The Olympic hosts staged what's known in Europe as a sleepless night, where cafes, bars, museums and shops stay open way past their normal hours.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And over the weekend, Olympic spectators and local residents in Turin tried to prove their physical stamina. Their goal Saturday night was to make it to dawn during an officially sponsored sleepless night. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli checked to see how they did.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI reporting:

In Europe, a sleepless or white night is when museums, movie theaters, and shops are kept open way beyond their normal closing time to give everyone a chance to experience the city. The Turin slogan was "carpe noctum," seize the night.

(Soundbite of a crowd)

POGGIOLI: At midnight, at the restaurant Ristoro D'Baccaro(ph), there was still a long line of people waiting to get in. Waitress Julia Raphaelli(ph) said this was an important event in a city long known as a boring one-factory town with early-to-bed residents.

Ms. JULIA RAPHAELLI (Waitress, Ristoro D'Baccaro, Turin, Italy): It's a different outlook of the city, if you look at it in night. It's already a gray, dark city, so I guess, at night it'd be scary, whereas, like this is not scary anymore.

(Soundbite of music)

POGGIOLI: Turin's baroque palaces were lit up like a stage set. The evening started with a Hollywood-style ceremony to present the gold, silver, and bronze medals to the day's Olympic winners.

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Announcer #1: (Foreign language spoken)

Unidentified Announcer #2: Ladies and gentlemen, the Olympic medalists.

POGGIOLI: Eladia Piacoa(ph), a Turin resident, was thrilled the city was staying open to present the best of its art, history, and culture to the outside world.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. ELADIA PIACOA (Resident, Turin, Italy): This is a good, a good opportunity to enjoy the Olympics. I love Torino, but I'm loving it even more now. It's like New York city every day--two weeks long.

POGGIOLI: Thomas Schmidt(ph) of Germany came to Turin with a group of friends to cheer the German ice hockey team. They decided to stay on for the sleepless night.

Mr. THOMAS SCHMIDT: Because, white nights, all the people are very good and they are all have fun, and it's, it's not typical for north Italia, but it's beautiful!

POGGIOLI: It was quiet most of Sunday, the city recovering from a rare long binge. But hours earlier, hundreds of thousands of people meandered through Turin's cobblestone streets and vast piazzas, window shopping, visiting open- air markets, sipping local wine and munching chocolate delicacies at outdoor tasting tables.

(Soundbite of music)

POGGIOLI: One of the most popular spots was Lobelix, a trendy bar with a standing-room-only crowd poured out into the street. A group of local youths wanted to express their exuberance.

(Soundbite of crowd speaking Italian)

POGGIOLI: David Diginato(ph) and Alberto Pavesi(ph) discussed whether Turin has become a European or a world capital. David said, we're finally coming out of a long, dark tunnel. Look at all these foreigners. They have so much to teach us, he said, and now I feel like a citizen of the world. An inner reaction, increasingly rare in the world today, Diginato and his friends cheered when they learned this reporter's nationality.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering, singing Star Spangled Banner)

POGGIOLI: The highlight of Turin's sleepless night was an open-air concert by Italian jazz great Paolo Conte, who performed an eclectic mix of American jazz, Latin-American tango, and French chanson. And for a few hours, Turin did feel like the capital of the world.

(Soundbite of music)

POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Turin.

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