Lively and elegant, always in movement, nonetheless Torino is incredibly a city set in the heart of verdant areas: gently resting on the hillside and enclosed by the winding course of the River Po, it owes much of its charm to its enchanting location at the foot of the western Alps, watched over by snowy peaks.
The first Capital of Italia invites you to discover its ancient and modern history, the palaces and museums, the parks and tree-lined avenues, the river and the hills, the restaurants and historic coffee houses, the long colonnaded streets and the multiethnic neighbourhoods, the great events and the many little pleasures which have always made it unique, in a balance between the rational Roman town layout, the measured pomp of Piemonte baroque and the originality of the modern and contemporary architecture.
Torino must be discovered step by step strolling along its streets and piazzas; mostly, it has to be lived, for a week end or for more days. That is why there are some things by all means “to see”, “to do”, “to taste” and “to know”.
Let’s start with the famous Piazza Castello square and the historical monuments surrounding it. You simply can’t miss it during your stay in Turin, as it’s where some of the must-see monuments like the palazzo Madama or the Palazzo Reale are located. In summer, this square is also popular for its refreshing water jets or as a great place to enjoy a good Italian ice cream. There are numerous gelateria (ice cream shops) around the square and in the nearby streets. On the other side of Piazza Castello, where the towers of the Palazzo Madama are located, you can see the First World War mermorial, in tribute to Emanuele Filiberto, 2nd Duke of Aosta.
The main entrance of the Palazzo Reale is on Piazza Castello. Built in 1646, it served as a royal residence until 1865. Today, you can visit various sections of the palace:
The king’s apartments, with gilded luxurious decoration everywhere; The Royal Library and its 200,000 books, including masterpieces such as the self-portrait or the Codex on the Flight of Birds by Leonardo da Vinci; The Royal Armory and its impressive collection of stuffed horses with their armored riders; The galleria Sabauda, which exhibits paintings from the 14th century to the 20th century; The Royal gardens (free entrance)
Another palace located on Piazza Castello is the palazzo Madama, a building with an atypical architecture. It was first a medieval castle before becoming a palace with a baroque façade!
Inside, there is the Turin City Museum of Ancient Art, housing a nice collection of ceramics, drawings and sculptures. During the visit, you can go in the small garden to admire the walls and towers of the palace from the inside.
National Museum of Cinema
Located in the Mole Antonelliana, the National Museum of Cinema is for many the best museum of the city. Very few people know this: Turin is the birthplace of Italian cinema! It’s no wonder that the city needed to have an amazing museum dedicated to the 7th art.
In the huge main room, cinema seats are even arranged to watch movies displayed on 2 giant screens on the ceiling. But if so many people visit the museum, it’s above all for its unique attraction: the panoramic elevator with transparent walls that will take you to the Mole platform. The perfect place to enjoy a 360° view of Turin.
Not far from the Carignan Palace is one of Turin’s greatest museums. With its 4 floors and numerous exposition rooms, this recently renovated Egyptian museum is the second largest in the world, after the one in Cairo!
The collection includes statues, sarcophagi and mummies, so you can immerse yourself in ancient Egypt for at least 2 hours.
San Carlo Square
Piazza San Carlo (San Carlo Square) is one of Turin’s main squares. This large and elegant square is my favorite in the city.
With its arcades, its 2 twin churches (the church of Santa Cristina and the San Carlo Borromeo church) and the equestrian statue of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, it’s extremely photogenic! Under the arcades, you can go shopping or have a coffee in one of the peaceful coffee shops. No noise, it’s a pedestrian only area.
The Piazza San Carlo also often hosts cultural events.
Another beautiful place to see in Turin: the Vittorio Veneto square. It offers a very nice view of the river, the Gran Madre di Dio church and Turin surrounding hills.
It’s also the ideal place for an ”aperitivo” or a meal in one of the good restaurants located on the square.
Vittorio Veneto square
The basilica of Superga
The basilica is remarkable for its huge circular facade with a dome. Inside there is the crypt with the House of Savoy king’s tombs as well as those of princes and princesses. You can also go up a narrow spiral staircase to access the balcony at the top of the dome and enjoy a view of the surrounding hill.
The basilica is also sadly famous for the tragedy that took place there in 1949. The plane that carried the Turin football team (Torino football club), crashed on the hill, demolishing a part of the convent. Since then, a funerary monument has been erected and Turinese people come to visit it every year on the anniversary of the tragedy.