I have just had the privilege to celebrate with my wife our anniversary in Turin.

It’s so close to our home town – an easy daily commute, a convenient one-day trip allowing leisurely depart in the morning and touching a few bases across the town before heading back for dinner.

The two towns have had similar business and social evolutions for centuries, have been part of a same country for some 150 years, seamlessly connected their regions by rail in 1864. They have exchanged ideas, people, endeavours from car-making to book fairs daily since, well, ever.
Moreover, globalization has mercifully and wickedly wiped out cultural differences far broader than these across far longer distances.
Or has it?

So, just what makes a walk across the centre of one so different from daily acquaintance with the other? 

Granted, Turin was long a European capital city, if minor, and working hard to convey that perception. Milan has been – indeed, was – a bustling regional business hub with more economic clout nationally and in Europe than political.

That would explain differences in squares and boulevards, and could go some way towards accounting for different attitudes and approaches, just as French influence in one and Austrian in the other may.
Still, what about bars and cafés, and the apparent much higher number in Turin of older, smaller retail shops? What makes the university neighbourhoods so much more apparent in Turin than their correspondents in the centre of Milan, giving it the feeling of an university city like Bologna, Padua or Paris?

Looking forward to the opportunity of having similar experiences with friends from across the pond – who will soon be kindly returning the courtesy of visiting us.

How best to help them perceive small important differences among neighbouring towns?
How best to get their help in appreciating such differences?

Originally posted on http://gmindshare.spaces.live.com.

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