Early or not at all

Early mornings in Torino

Huw Williams | 08:39, Thursday 05 September 2013 | Turin, Italy

It has to be early or not at all. If my expanding waistline has been an increasing source of concern and embarrassment for some time, then at least it has provided me with sufficient motivation to drag myself out of bed at some barbaric hour three or four mornings a week.

It has to be early or not at all. Even by mid-morning the temperatures are forbidding enough for all but the fittest and most enthusiastic of runners and joggers. But the rewards for getting out of bed and out of the house early have long been extolled and this early(ish) bird catches a worm or two on his morning exertions.

It has to be early or not at all, so the streets are quiet. Sometimes I can run right down the middle of the road which runs behind our apartment without meeting a single vehicle. My route takes me through the piazza where we take Kitty to play on the swings, but now the playground seems strangely deserted without a soul in sight, the chains of the normally busy swings hanging in unfamiliar vertical lines, the water fountains faithfully and dutifully spewing water to no-one.

It has to be early or not at all, and there are always the dog-walkers. A demographically strange sample presents itself around here – young women with wet hair and old men who seem to have deferred their morning ablutions until after their morning walk – these are the only people I see walking their four-legged friends before work.

By now we have reached the corner of Corso Francia and I am feeling the pace. But I think of it as the home straight. One or two of the coffee shops are already open, and populated by the odd customer, sitting outside on the pavement, smoking, scouring La Stampa as if it were doomsday, all over the ubiquitous espresso. Custodi sweep the pavements clear outside their respective buildings and the light is noticeably brighter and more familiar now.

One final turn of a corner and I’m almost home. The traffic is heavier. After two months of morning runs I am encouraged to find that I can often quicken the pace here, although only the other day, having done so, I was overtaken here by a runner at least twenty years my senior, gliding by so apologetically and serenely that I think he was hoping that I might not notice.

But now I am home and Kitty is with Mummy, finishing her breakfast, only too delighted to wave the evidence of jammy fingers in my face. Over the city and at home, a new day has begun – it has to be early or not at all.

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