Turin is also famous for its chocolate, for its Egyptian Museum, for its harmonious streets and arcades and for its royal palaces. With an added tip: an excellent gastronomy that every year incorporates new proposals, from popular markets with local products to the most refined chefs with a Michelin star.

Everything in Turin has a refined atmosphere, the result of its many years as the capital of the Duchy of Savoy since the 16th century. The Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) may be the first contact with the city and a way of explaining it: the royal gardens, armory and library, the Museo di Antichita, Galleria Sabauda and Palazzo Chiablese are permanent symbols of power and Turin culture.

After centuries of modifications and extensions, the result is a perfect game of spaces and lights that contrast with the sobriety of the facade guarded by the equestrian statues of Castor and Pollux. Inside, light and austerity give way to the pomp of what was the residence of the Savoy family until 1865. The walls raised on a quadrangular plan around an internal patio hide enormous and richly decorated rooms. The most striking are the grand staircase, the imposing hall of the Swiss Guard, the room of the pages, the throne room, the lavish dining room, the evocative ballroom and the amazing Chinese cabinet.

Recently, the royal gardens have been recovered as a green corner in the heart of the city. And it has also reopened, restored after a fire in 1997, the Cappella della Sacra Sindone in the cathedral, the work of the architect Guarino Guarini, where the famous relic of the Holy Shroud is kept.

Another of the jewels kept in this palace, specifically in its Library, is the valuable Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci (1513), a sanguine sketch acquired by the Duke of Savoy in the mid-19th century, together with an invaluable collection of drawings, incunabula, illuminated manuscripts and engravings.

And finally, the Caffe Reale Torino, located in the former royal fruit shop, invites you to recharge your batteries among silver and porcelain objects in the internal rooms or the outdoor space of the courtyard.

Cinema in the Mole Antonelliana

The Mole Antonelliana is one of the icons of the city, with its bold and unmistakable shape and its 167.5 meters high. This original building was designed at the end of the 19th century, as a synagogue, but, after differences between the architect and the Jewish community of Turin, it ended up being bought by the City Council. Outside there are always people with their heads raised admiring the imposing pronaos with its 30-meter-high columns and trying to decipher the meaning of Mario Merz’s Il volo dei numeri light installation, inspired by the famous Fibonacci sequence.

Inside it houses the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, with a daring design by set designer Francois Confino and divided into different sections, all very original. The final shot is to go up the Elicoidale Ramp to enjoy the magical effect of the whole. When leaving, one does not have the sensation of having gone to a museum, but to the cinema, and not only as a spectator.

The mysteries of egypt

The cinema, the chocolate or the colonnaded squares are undoubtedly some of the symbols of elegant Turin, as is the Egyptian culture. And it is that the city boasts of having the second most important museum in the world: the Egyptian Museum, the richest in funds of that civilization after Cairo. In 2006, the set designer Dante Ferretti, a collaborator of Fellini and Pasolini, recreated the gloom of a pharaonic tomb to transform his collection of sculptures into a solemn and mysterious space where a seated figure of Ramses II stands out, the jewel of the museum, founded in 1824 by King Carlo Felice of Savoy with the statues, papyri, ceramics, amulets, furniture, mummies, jewellery, household objects and grave goods collected by Bernardino Drovetti (1776-1852) during his stay as French consul in Egypt.

Drovetti took advantage of his friendship with Viceroy Mohamed Ali to get more than 5,000 pieces out of the country, which he sold for a fortune. Subsequent excavations, such as those carried out by Ernesto Schiaparelli and Giulio Farina between 1903 and 1937, contributed to enriching the collection, which today has more than 26,500 pieces, of which only about 6,500 can be exhibited. A recent renovation has expanded the spaces dedicated to the history of the museum and has made the tour more accessible.

New gastronomic proposals

Pillars of tradition, standard-bearers of the avant-garde, Michelin-starred chefs, popular venues… Turin’s culinary scene is exceptionally diverse and changes at an astonishing rate, but there are plenty of reasons to book a table. It is even enough to visit the most classic restaurants that dare to innovate.

To relax in an informal atmosphere or to enjoy the Piedmontese conviviality, it is best to go to a piola (equivalent to an osteria) to taste a homemade dish and a glass of dolcetto wine, or to one of Turin’s bocciofile (bowling alleys), frequented by fans of petanque, but which offer activities, good food and entertainment to an increasingly numerous clientele.

In recent years, Turin has welcomed big names in national and international gastronomy who have opened restaurants or collaborated on the menus of excellent establishments in the Piedmontese capital. They are highly awarded chefs, such as Antonino Cannavacciuolo, who has opened a bistro in the Gran Madre area and, after receiving the Michelin star, plans to open another in a location yet to be revealed; Ferran Adria from Catalonia and Federico Zanasi from Modena make Condividere shine, located in the Nuvola Lavazza complex; and Iginio Massari has opened a pastry shop in the center. Nor should we lose sight of two young chefs who are already recognized: Christian Mandura, whose Unforgettable restaurant, near the Santuario della Consolata, was awarded a Michelin star in 2021; and Stefano Sforza,

Among the most established references, Al Gatto Nero, has been serving since 1927 impeccable dishes and exceptional wines. And Casa Vicina serves Piedmontese specialties awarded with a Michelin star. In Magorabin we find creative cuisine and in Porto di Savona, a typical restaurant in a post house from 1863.

Discover the Turin ‘bicerin’

Turin’s original drink is bicerin (coffee with chocolate and cream). Apparently, the employees of Caffe Al Bicerin, the historic venue that has been preparing the original typical drink since 1763, are prohibited by contract from revealing the recipe. The authentic bicerin is only drunk in this place that Cavour himself used to frequent and that has a wonderful terrace in piazza della Consolata. The bicerin, an evolution of the eighteenth century Bavareisa (based on coffee, chocolate, milk cream and syrup), is served in rounded crystal glasses with the layers of chocolate, coffee and milk clearly visible and is best enjoyed accompanied by a sweet typical.

But there are many other places to try other versions, such as Caffe Mulassano, a historic cafe in Piazza Castello where they serve three variants: with soft cream, with white whipped until stiff, or with meringue. Or Guido Gobino, the kingdom of quality chocolate where the quintessential Turin chocolate drink could not be missing. Two versions are proposed: the traditional one, with milk cream and dark chocolate, and the reinterpreted one, with gianduia (chocolate and hazelnut paste) and whipped cream.

And to surround us with classic glamour: Caffe Torino offers the traditional bicerin d’Cavour, made with milk cream, in the elegant Piazza San Carlo, between golden stucco and marble.

Porta Palazzo and the Balon market

The faces, colors and flavors of ancient and contemporary Turin await us in the historic Balon open-air market, one of the largest in Europe. There you can do your shopping every morning, among a lot of colors and flavors, and then browse in the second-hand stalls and the antique shops of the Balon and the Gran Balon.

At Porta Palazzo, from Monday to Saturday, the vans arrive at dawn and, in a matter of minutes, fill the four sections of the enormous Piazza della Repubblica, designed by Filippo Juvarra, with flashy stalls waiting for customers. Since 1825, this large open-air market has been the essential reference point for the commercial and cultural life of the city. At first glance it seems inevitable to get disoriented, but there are some fixed coordinates that are easy to learn: in the exedra located to the south of Corso Regina Margherita are the flower, fruit, vegetable, fish and cheese vendors; in the one located to the north, the Tettoia dell’Orologio, a Liberty-style pavilion from 1916 that houses, in addition to cheesemakers and butchers, the stalls of the peasants who bring their seasonal products from the countryside.

Behind Porta Palazzo, continuing along Via Borgo Dora towards the river, every Saturday it is possible to get lost among the countless regular and improvised stalls of the Balon, an important market that on the second Sunday of the month extends to become the Gran Balon and offers everything : rarities, curiosities, valuables, works of art, rare engravings, trinkets. It is unique.

It is also recommended to take a look at the Mercato Centrale, a gastronomic center opened in 2019 in the old Palatine Center, on the north side of the square, which is part of a large and controversial redevelopment project in the area. The result is three floors with quality restaurants and street food venues, didactic classrooms, workshops and a space for events; Looking down, you can see the old ice cream shop.

He elegant Palazzo Madama

This historic building located in piazza Castello narrates the history of Turin. It was the eastern access gate to the Roman Augusta Taurinorum, a fortified castle in the Middle Ages and the residence of the princes of Achaia, but it owes its name to Madame Royale Cristina of France, who lived here since 1637. It was also the seat of the first Subalpine Senate in 1848, and in recent times it has become a cultural and artistic center.

The historic Palazzo Madama, located in ‘piazza’ Castello. Alamy Stock Photo

Although the building originally designed by Filippo Juvara never came to fruition, the architect managed to complete the splendid white stone Baroque facade that today presides over the square and keeps the true shape of the structure a secret. Juvara, a theatrical set designer, also designed the double ramp of the access staircase.

The palace houses the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, with four floors full of works of art and history, and also the Senate Hall, a huge room on the first floor decorated with stories from the House of Savoy. Behind it is the medieval garden, a pleasant green area that has revitalized the moat with flower beds and fruit trees and can be visited from March to October. And from the tower there are fantastic views of piazza Castello and the whole city.

Chocolates, ice creams and cakes

Turin’s history has also been forged in cafeterias, where intellectuals and politicians drink vermouth or bicerin on the sofas in their indoor rooms or at tables outdoors. And then there are the chocolates: the gianduiotto is the brightest star in a galaxy of delicacies: cuneesi with rum, cremini, truffles, etc. Not to mention refined pastry products such as baci di dama, marrons glaces or bignoles

One of the most famous confectioneries in Turin is the Pasticceria Ghigo, whose meringues con creme have been famous since 1870, as is its Christmas nuvola (pandoro covered in a layer of buttercream and icing sugar). Another track for those with a sweet tooth is the Fioro ice cream parlor, which has always welcomed lovers of authentic gianduia ice cream.

Caffe Mulassano boasts of having imported tramezzini (a kind of sandwich) to Italy back in 1926; it is recommended to try one with butter and anchovies accompanied by prosecco, a sparkling wine. Another classic is the modernist cafe Baratti & Milano, famous for its sweets and a former supplier to the Royal House. Or Pepino, one of the oldest ice cream parlors in Europe, which in 1938 invented the Pinguino, the first stick ice cream. You have to try it with a violet flavor.

Going from ‘square’ to ‘square’

Arcades in Via Roma, one of the pedestrian streets in the center of Turin. Alamy Stock Photo

The art of walking and wandering between squares and arcades is something very Turin. The main arteries of the center (Via Po, Via Roma, Via Pietro Micca and Via Garibaldi) converge in Piazza Castello. It is surrounded by porticoes so that the king could always move indoors, presided over in the center by Palazzo Madama and bounded on the north corner by Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Chiablese and the church of San Lorenzo. Just look up to see the first skyscraper in Turin: the Littoria tower (109 meters), a project by Armando Melis from 1934.

Equestrian statue en la ‘piazza’ San Carlo de Turin. Alamy Stock Photo

Another essential square is San Carlo, formerly Piazza Reale. It was devised by Cristina de Francia, the young wife of Victor Amadeo I of Savoy, who felt nostalgic for his native Paris. The beauty and majesty of this space, on whose sides porticoes and haute couture firms abound, evoke those of the French capital.

Shopping through the Turinese passages

Turin is unrivaled for historic shopping arcades; the most important are in the center. One of these is the eclectic Galleria San Federico, built between 1932 and 1933, which houses the Cinema Lux, with a striking staircase under the large central dome, the Coop Fiorfood bistro and concept store, and several elegant shops. The oldest is the Galleria Subalpina, conceived as a pastime for the 19th century bourgeoisie: distributed on two levels and topped by a precious glass and iron roof, it has connected piazza Carlo Alberto with piazza Castello since 1874 and houses, among other things, a cinema of art and essays (the Roman Cinema), an ice cream parlor, a bookstore specializing in old volumes, the Dispensa wine and liquor store, with wines and spirits from all over the world, and the large windows of the Baratti & Milano cafe.

A walk through the Roman Quadrilatero

After this tour of art and gastronomy, it’s time to discover the lively Quadrilatero neighborhood. This grid of narrow streets lined with houses, small shops and restaurants is a remnant of the Roman military camp of the first century BC. on which Julia Augusta Taurinorum was founded. Its regular layout has influenced urban development. The traveler can imagine going through the ancient gates of the castrum (only one remains standing) and discovering the origins of Turin. To identify the perimeter of the old camp, it is enough to draw an imaginary line between the four doors that gave access through the walls: the Porta Praetoria, the Porta Principalis Dextera, the only survivor; the Porta Principalis Sinistra, and the Porta Decumana. The decumanus maximus, one of the two main pathways,

Restaurants and terraces in the Quadrilatero area, one of the liveliest in the Italian city. Alamy Stock Photo

Densely populated over the centuries and embellished with magnificent buildings (especially in the 17th and 18th centuries), this area fell into a process of decline and became almost marginal, with dilapidated or completely abandoned houses. The situation remained like this until the 1990s, when real estate speculation and the wave of general renovation changed the image of the neighborhood; At the beginning of the new millennium, it became the center of life and the preferred place to live or open a business (with all the associated inconveniences), a destination that would later be shared by other Turin districts such as San Salvario or Vanchiglia.

Park and ‘Castello’ del Valentino

The city’s green lung is a treasure to be discovered by walking from the Umberto I Bridge, riding along the river by bike, visiting the medieval castle and village and lying on the grass. With 550,000 square meters, this palatial garden (which became public at the end of the 19th century) is ideal for spending a pleasant day. There is also the Valentino castle, declared a world heritage site, one of the residences of the Royal House of Savoy and the current headquarters of the Faculty of Architecture of the Polytechnic of Turin. This 16th century fortress was the splendid riverside villa of Duke Manuel Filiberto de Saboya. In the area of ​​the Botanical Garden, which was created at the beginning of the 18th century, there is a small wood, an alpine (space that imitates the natural mountainous environment), a garden and several greenhouses.

Contemporary art at the GAM

The Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM) is a pillar of Turin’s museum history (it was founded more than 150 years ago) and a symbol of innovation in the way of promoting art through courses, meetings and innovative projects. Its thousands of works (including paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures, installations, engravings and drawings) illustrate the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and are organized into four thematic sections: Infinity, Velocita, Ethics and Nature. Added to this are temporary samples, always with very long queues.

The refined Villa della Regina

Villa della Regina is another of the jewels of the house of Savoy that has recently recovered its former splendor. This spectacular pleasure house was built for Prince Cardinal Mauricio and Princess Ludovica and was a royal residence until the 19th century. After admiring the interior, from the 18th century, one can get lost in its garden between fountains and corners with views.

It was designed at the beginning of the 17th century as a summer house in the countryside, but it has evolved and was even a temporary residence for Napoleon during the French occupation. After the transfer of the court in 1869, it became the seat of the Istituto Nazionale delle Figlie dei Militari. The bombings of the Second World War were followed by a period of abandonment that was not remedied until 1994, when restoration works began, completed in 2016. It is a palace full of charm that after its restoration is worth visiting: it is also From the Juvara ballroom, with murals and mirrors with a theatrical effect, there are rooms, lounges and intimate, bright and refined rooms with stucco vaults.

The garden, designed after the model of Italian villas, welcomes the visitor with a magnificent fountain in an elliptical square. On both sides stretch vineyards that are cultivated again today. Behind the villa, the park carved into the hill spreads over three levels, giving rise to one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy, ideal for taking walks, contemplating panoramas that stretch as far as the Alps, and exploring a system of artificial grottoes and fountains. that go from the viewpoint to the main road.

La Reggia: the royal palace of Venaria

Among the most beautiful royal residences in Europe is the Venaria Reale in Turin. In the early 1990s, the City Council intended to demolish this castle to build houses, but the people of Turin protested and managed to stop the project. In this way, one of the main historical and artistic jewels of Italy has recovered its former splendor thanks to a major restoration that has extended to the entire surrounding area. Originally it was a hunting lodge, later it became a magnificent palace that would be looted and vandalized in the Napoleonic period. It has taken more than 50 years of restorations to be able to open it to the public.

Its biggest attraction is the so-called Galleria Grande, a huge and elegant ocher and white room, very bright and decorated with stucco, lesines and friezes. This eighteenth-century masterpiece creates a sumptuous theatrical effect thanks to the light that filters through 44 windows and 22 oval openings and its splendid checkered floor, and is the result of Juvara’s intervention on Garove’s original project.

The entire complex is surrounded by magnificent gardens, which include a large canal, a fish pond, fountains, pavilions and flower beds.

The industrial districts: Crocetta, San Paolo and Cenisia Sud

The landscape and atmosphere of these three neighborhoods are radically different from those of the elegant center of Turin: Crocetta, the most timeless of the three, is characterized by tranquility, villas and historic buildings of the haute bourgeoisie; San Paolo, lively and popular, still shows signs of its working-class past with the presence of Lancia, Ansaldo and Pininfarina; and Cenisia, a former industrial area, is bounded to the southeast by the Turin Polytechnic.

It is in these former industrial areas that initiatives such as the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo museum have sprung up, a veritable haven for contemporary art in the city, not only because the large white spaces, accompanied by trendy bookstores and cafeterias, host exhibitions by prominent artists, but also because the foundation, established in 1995, has always paid attention to novelties and emerging personalities through meetings with artists, conferences, educational activities and special events. Its headquarters, located in a disused industrial area, became a museum in 2002.

Another contemporary art initiative in industrial areas is the Fondazione Merz, created in 2005 in the former Lancia thermal power plant, a 1930s building located in the heart of San Paolo. It was transformed into a 3,200-square-meter museum of contemporary art by Beatrice Merz with the intention of preserving and exhibiting the works of her father Mario and launching a connection project between exhibitions dedicated to the great protagonist of arte povera and temporary projects in situ. of Italian and foreign artists.

Also a jewel of industrial architecture is the former factory and train repair shop OGR-Officine Grandi Riparazioni. With an area of ​​190,000 square meters, it was inaugurated in 1895 and dismantled at the beginning of the 1990s. In 2017, after a restoration of almost three years, OGR shined again and today it is a great cultural center that defends creativity, the technological innovation and sustainability.

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