Like neighboring Milan, Turin is an Italian centre of industry, art and culture. It is the 3rd largest city in Italy was the country’s original capital from 1861-1865, before being superseded by Florence. Most of Turin lies on the west bank of the Po River, with the Alps make a stunning backdrop to the city. It is famous for it’s architecture and has splendid examples of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-classical, and Art Nouveau architecture. Turin is only a 1 hour train ride (or 1-2 hours by car) from the fashion capital of the world, Milan. Given the sophisticated elegance of Milan, you might wish to travel in style from Milan’s Malpensa Airport into town, marvel at the amazing architectural delights there for a few days and then complete the experience in Turin.
Highlights of Turin
The Piazza Costello is a large square in the heart of the city. The square is surrounded by many historical buildings which house museums, theaters and cafe. Two of these buildings, the Palazzo Madama and the Palazzo Reale di Torino (The Royal Palace of Turin) were home to Italian and French royalty between the 14th and 18th centuries. The Palazzo Reale is well worth the 12 Euro entry fee with it’s original elaborate decorations and artwork, gorgeous gardens, and an impressive armory. The Palazzo Madama now contains a museum of art from the late middle ages to the 1700s. The exceptional Teatro Regio di Torino (Turin Opera ) is also located at Piazza Costello.
Only 7 minutes walk away is the Piazza San Carlo, a rectangular square lined with historical buildings of Baroque architecture. It’s a great place relax in one of the many cafes around the the square and take in the magical atmosphere.
An unconventional and iconic landmark building in Turin is the Mole Antonelliana, which was originally conceived as a synagogue and completed in 1889. It has been the home of the National Museum of Cinema since 2000 and has a rather unique attraction. Visitors can ride 85 metres up through the Mole’s dome in an exposed panoramic lift and get great views of the city and Alps from the elevated terrace.
Santuario Basilica La Consolata (the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Consolation) is another major tourist attraction in Turin. On the outside it is unassuming church that you could easily walk by without a second glance, but this belies an interior that is decorated in resplendent opulence. The sanctuary has existed in one form or another since about 1000 AD and so it is a mashup of many architectural styles including the Romanesque bell tower and the baroque domes.
If you are a football/soccer fan you’ll know that Turin is home to the famous Juventus Club. Many fans like to visit the Juventus Stadium and do a tour which includes a visit to the locker rooms and allows you to stand on the edge of the field. It is best to book tickets in advance online to avoid and long wait or disappointment.
Things to do and see near Turin
Northern Italy is the industrial powerhouse of the country, but despite this the north has a lot of natural beauty due to it’s many picturesque lakes and the backdrop of the Alps.
Turin is less than 2 hours drive from fantastic ski resorts on the Italian-French and Italian-Swiss borders. There are 16 ski resorts in the Turin Provence alone. A great option for beginner skiers is Bardonecchia, and for intermediate skiers you can’t go wrong with Champoluc which is only 1.5 hours drive north of Turin. For advanced slopes and off piste runs you might want to try Alagna which is 2.25 hours drive north-east of Turin.
While you are in this part of the world you must see at least one of the northern lakes. Lake Maggiore is a 2.5-3 hour drive from Turin. Speaking of things not to miss on your tour of northern Italy, the colorful cliffside villages of the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian Coast are only 3.25 hours drive from Turin.
Photo by cristiano caligaris on Unsplash