Turin makes the Olympics work for it

On the front page of the sports section of today's NYTimes is a great article about how the town of Turin, future host of Olympics 2006, has taken lessons learned from Athens and reinvigorated use of their public and under-utilized spaces for the next Winter Olympics.

Instead of building completely new monolithic Olympic structures, part of the Turin line-up include the skating rink built around a 130 year old statue; the Olympic Village, the media and broadcasting center, now housed in a re-built industrial space; and a Mussolini-commissioned soccer stadium built in 1932 is now being rebuilt for other events.

Valentino Castellani, president of the Turin Organizing Committee, put it best:

"We gather in our piazzas, our town squares, for events and we've tried to replicate the feel of an Italian piazza in our competition venues. Our medal ceremony will be in a piazza. The lesson of the Athens Games is that there was no place for people to socialize. Most of the local people were on vacation. At our Olympics, we want the holiday going on in the city."
I also like that transportation issues (winding roads to the mountains about 45 minutes away will likely double regular travel time what with Olympic level traffic volume) did not immediately mean a wider road (or more roads). Instead, officials are working hard with locals to identify enough accommodations to keep people at the mountains, rather than focusing on transporting them. For a city that was once known as the Detroit of Italy, (Turin was long-time home of Fiat, pre-globalization), these are bold decisions in the right direction. (Thanks Chris!)

Turin Olympic web site
"In Turin, Olympics, Italian Style" (NY Times)