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Turin Says It Will Be Ready for Winter Games


With less than a month to go to the opening of the Winter Olympics, the host city, Turin, is making feverish efforts to complete its facelift on time. While some things may remain incomplete, the city says it will be ready to put on its best show.

Workmen are busy in the piazzas of Turin. You hear the jackhammers and the electric saws. You see the giant cranes, the scaffolding and the piles of dirt and cobblestones.

Visitors are immediately aware that some big changes have been taking place in this city. It's what the authorities here have been calling "an ambitious urban revolution."

The airport has undergone a major upgrade to prepare for the large crowds expected to arrive for the 2006 Winter Games. Estimates say one million spectators will attend the events.

But with less than a month to go to the inauguration of the Games, much still needs to be done. But, even though parts of Turin look like a construction site, the Games organizers say they are confident the city will be ready.

Few people in this industrious town in northern Italy have doubts. The least of all Turin's Mayor, Sergio Chiamparino, who says he's pleased with the pace of the preparations.

"It's going well," he said. "The venues and the villages are ready. Now we are in the last phase, the phase of the dressing."

The people here, he adds, know this is a very important event for their city.

For residents it's not been an easy four years. Many acknowledge they have been inconvenienced by all the construction work, but say the city is becoming more livable and they are proud to play host to the Winter Games.

This young woman says she is very proud of her city and happy that it is hosting the Games. There have been inconveniences, she adds, but we will overcome them.

Turin is the largest city ever to host the winter Olympics. Visitors will be able to attend sporting events but also sightsee in a city that has much to offer to tourists: the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, the National Museum of Cinema, the Egyptian Museum and fascinating art exhibits.

Turin has never really been on the tourist map, considered by many a dull industrial city in the north. When tourists come to Italy they visit Rome, Florence and Venice. The people of Turin want to change this and know this is an opportunity they cannot miss.

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