Turin Italy

When in Northern Italy, why not stop in Turin (Torino in Italian). Our first stop right outside the city was at the Basilica di Superga, for a very quick visit to this beautiful, 18th-century Baroque masterpiece on a hill overlooking Turin. The façade of the yellow and white structure was overwhelmed by huge, Classical temple-like columns that support a 200-foot dome and is surrounded by two lovely column-supported bell towers. The interior is almost as lovely with high-relief stucco, its sculpted stone and its coffered dome.

Turin - Basilica di superga 01Turin - Basilica di superga viewTurin - Basilica di superga 05

And then onto Turin itself

Turin Italy

Turin, or Torina has a storied dynastic (base of the Savoy dynasty, the ruling family of the 17th– and 18th-century Italian peninsula), royal (first capital of the 19th-century unified Kingdom of Italy) and religious (home of the Turin Shroud) history.

The largely Baroque city was and remains the county’s primary manufacturing powerhouse (the home of FIAT’s giant Lingotto factory) and one of its primary commercial centers (headquarters of Cinzano, Martini & Rossi, Armani, Valentino, Telecom Italia, Bancario San Paolo and many others).

Many of the central city’s primary landmarks are located on or just off Via Roma, the north-south center of the city’s grid.

  • Via Roma, the city’s lovely, colonnaded avenue is studded with many of the city’s primary piazzas and lined with its most fashionable stores.

Turin Via Roma

  • Piazza San Carlo, the most extravagant of these piazzas, is an architectural showcase in and of itself. Its center is marked with a statue of Duke Emanuele Filiberto, one of the symbols of the city. The piazza is lined by virtually identical 17th-century churches (except for the elaborate Baroque façade added to Santa Christina in the 18th century), the palace of the 17th-century French Ambassador and the entrance to San Federico Galleria (see below).

Turin Plazza San Carlo 2 churches

  • Via Po, another lovely arcaded avenue, which has own churches and palazzos, is one of the city’s few diagonal thoroughfares. It is also home to a number of the type of book stalls that line the Seine in Paris. Both avenues end at the historic center of the city: the home of the Duomo, Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Madama.
  • Duomo, an austere, 15th-century Renaissance structure with carved doorways and brick bell tower. The only real decoration is that in the chapels lining each side of the nave. This cathedral is also home to the Holy Shroud of Turin—the sheet that was supposed to have been laid over his body upon its removal from the cross. The image of his face is supposed to have been transferred to the shroud. Although scientific evidence for the claim is highly dubious and carbon dating suggests that the sheet is only about 800 years old, the cathedral keeps it locked in covered glass case, displays a replica and plays a video loop that claims that blood and scripture bear out its authenticity.

Turin DuomoTurin Duomo 03

  • Palazzo Reale, the former palace of the Savoy Dynasty’s royal family, while plain on the outside, has lavishly decorated state apartments and furnishings that combine Baroque, Rococco and Neo-Classical styles. Each room is more opulent than the last with their marble or wood inlaid floors, their stucco decorations, their heavily gilded carved wood woodwork and decorations and their huge ceiling, wall murals and sculptures (many of which tout the bravery and the victories of family members) and their tapestries. Some, like the Throne Room and the long, Beaumont Gallery (with its amazing collection of medieval arms and armor) are over the top, even for this palace.

Hall of the Swiss GuardBeaumont Gallery 02Throne room

  • Palazzo Madama, a 14th-century medieval castle that incorporated some of the city’s Roman city walls, was expanded and rebuilt in the 18th-century into an even larger palace with a lovely Classical façade. We did not have a chance to explore the building, which now houses an art museum;

Turin Palazzo Madama 02

Among the central city’s other largest and most important and impressive structures are:

  • Palazzo Carignano, a magnificent, 17th-century, brick Baroque palace with a beautiful rotunda just off its courtyard. The palace was the home of one of Italy’s most important families, the birthplace of Vittorio Emmanuelle II (the unified country’s first king) and site of the country’s first parliament. It now houses a museum that traces the history of the country’s unification.

PALAZZO Carignano 01

  • San Lorenzo, a small, but magnificent church that is so hidden away as to be almost unidentifiable from the street, other than for a small sign next to a nondescript entrance. It is decorated primarily with marble, its alcoves are filled with statues and frescos mark the transition between the walls and the dome that is effectively laced with supporting arches.
  • Turin San Lorenzo church 03
  • San Federico Galleria, located just off the corner of Piazza San Carlo, is a lovely, four-entry, cross-shaped shopping arcade with glass-dome ceiling and marble floors.

Turin Galleria San Federico

  • Remnants of portals, walls and building foundations from Roman times in a park across from the Doumo.

Further out lie several other city landmarks. These include:

  • Mole Antoneliana, 550-foot tower (including a 155-foot spire) that is the city’s tallest brick building and, when built, the tallest in Europe;
  • Borgo Medioevale, a collection of medieval-style buildings created for the 1884 General Italian Exhibition; and

Turin - Borge Medioevale 07Turin - Borge Medioevale 06

  • Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, the roof of the famous FIAT factory that famed museum architect, Renzo Piano converted into a modern art museum. While the permanent collection, which spans the late 17th through early 20th centuries, does contain lesser works by masters including Renoir, Matisse, Picasso and Modigilani. But with fewer than 50 works (with most artists represented by only one or two, it is hardly worth the price of admission., When we visited, the museum also hosted an exhibit on Frank Lloyd Wright. This small subset of last year’s New York MOMA exhibit (add link) was “customized” to Italy with a single panel that mentioned Wright’s 1951 visit to Florence and an exhibition of Wright’s drawings.
  • Turin - Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli (Fiat) - Frank Lloyd Wright Falling WaterTurin - Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli (Fiat) 01Turin - Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli (Fiat) 02

Our visit just happened to coincide with the first day of a two-day celebration of San Giovani, Turin’s patron saint. While a light show was being substituted for the usual fireworks display, the celebration still featured a grand parade, in which men, women and children, dressed as lords, ladies and knights, walked or rode horses through the city, accompanied by drums and flag bearers who twirl and toss the colorful pennants through the air. The parade ends at the large Piazza Castello, in front of Palazzo Madama, at which bands were playing though the day and evening.


Turin Restaurants

Solferino, a lovely dinner with very good service where I began with the veal tonato (with tuna cream sauce) for I had been waiting for quite a while. We then each had pasta dishes as our main course: papparadelle with rabbit ragu and fusilli with clams in a pesto sauce. Both very good. For a dry, white, non-aromatic local wine, our server recommended a 2016 arneis from the Roero region (north of Alba) from Mateo Coeggia. Quite nice, although we would have preferred a bit more body.

Kipling, where we had a late lunch of calamari bodies stuffed with mozzarella and spinach with tomato sauce, and pasta with oil, clams and red bread crumbs. We each had a glass of wine: mine a red (Funsu Langhe nebbiolo) turin and Joyce a white (Buyet Langhe chardonnay). A pretty good lunch with good service, on a pretty square, but very pricy for what we had.

Turin Hotel

Hotel Turin Palace. What a beautiful place. Looks quite new. Right across from the train station. Room was very pleasant, air conditioning worked will as did wifi. Breakfast has a large selection of fresh fruit, cereals, normal cold items, bread, etc. A very good stay and recommended.

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