A Leisurely Weekend in Turin: The Piedmontese Capital

The Historical Evolution of Turin

Turin, a city steeped in over two thousand years of history, has undergone a remarkable transformation, especially since the sixteenth century. Initially founded by the Romans, it became the capital of the Duchy of Savoy. This era marked a significant architectural and cultural development, laying the foundation for the city’s baroque character.

 

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw Turin becoming a political and cultural powerhouse, with elegant palaces and squares shaping its skyline.

 

The nineteenth century has ushered in industrialisation, symbolised by the founding of FIAT in 1898, propelling Turin into an era of economic prosperity. This period also saw Turin at the forefront of arts and innovation, hosting the Expo of Modern Decorative Art in 1902 and becoming a hub for the emerging film industry.

 

Despite facing an industrial decline in the late twentieth century, Turin reinvented itself as a centre of creativity and design, earning the UNESCO “Creative City of Design” title in 2014. Today, Turin is a testament to resilience and reinvention, weaving its rich historical tapestry into a vibrant modern cultural landscape.

Lingotto rooftop test track
Lingotto rooftop test track

Discovering Turin’s Architectural Splendor: A Journey Through Its Historic Squares

Often celebrated for its architectural elegance, Turin is a city best discovered on foot, meandering through its grand piazzas that paint a picture of its rich history and diverse architectural styles. This guide is tailored for architecture enthusiasts looking to delve into the unique character of each square in Turin.

Piazza Castello and Palazzo Reale, Turin
Piazza Castello and Palazzo Reale

Piazza Vittorio Veneto: The Grandeur of Baroque

Baroque Elegance by the Po River: At Piazza Vittorio Veneto, one of Europe’s largest baroque squares, visitors can admire its symmetrical layout and majestic buildings. This square perfectly melds urban design with natural beauty, representing Turin’s ambition to combine functional urban planning with aesthetic splendour.

Piazza Castello: The Heart of Turin's History

A Tapestry of Architectural Evolution: A short stroll leads to Piazza Castello, encapsulating Turin’s architectural transformation. Palazzo Madama and the Royal Palace, each narrating a different era – from medieval to baroque – dominate the square. This area is an architectural marvel and a vibrant centre of cultural life.

Piazza San Carlo: The Seventeenth-Century Baroque Gem

The ‘Drawing Room’ of Turin: Next on the route is Piazza San Carlo, a quintessential example of seventeenth-century baroque architecture. The uniformity of its buildings and the presence of twin churches add to its charm, making it a favourite gathering spot for historical and contemporary figures.

Piazza Carignano: A Baroque Masterpiece

Undulating Facades and Historical Depth: The journey continues to Piazza Carignano, a square dominated by the Palazzo Carignano’s unique baroque facade. This architectural jewel, with its red bricks and ornate stucco, is visually appealing and rich in history, housing the Museum of the Risorgimento.

Piazza Solferino: The Eclectic and Neoclassical Blend

Turin’s Nineteenth-Century Architectural Transition: Concluding the architectural tour at Piazza Solferino, visitors shift from baroque to a more eclectic and neoclassical style. With its restrained facades and geometric forms, this square represents Turin’s progression towards a modern and unified urban aesthetic. The Monumento ai Caduti del Frejus is a poignant reminder of the city’s history, while the surrounding buildings blend the neoclassical and modern elements.

Via Lagrange, Turin
Shopping district Via Lagrange
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Turin
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Turin

Step into Ancient Egypt in the Heart of Turin: Discover the World’s Oldest Egyptian Museum

Museo Egizio in Turin
Museo Egizio in Turin - Photo Credit Museo Egizio

In the baroque grandeur of Turin’s city centre lies a treasure trove of ancient wonders – the world’s oldest Egyptian Museum. Established in 1824, this museum is second only to the famed Cairo Museum in its wealth of Egyptian antiquities.

 

Imagine embarking on a timeless journey through over 4,000 years of history, art, and archaeology. The museum’s extraordinary collection includes statues, papyrus scrolls, sarcophagi, and artefacts of everyday life. These pieces tell the stories of a civilisation that has long captivated the world’s imagination and brought to life the intricate details of ancient Egyptian culture.

 

This museum is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to delve into the fascinating world of one of history’s most intriguing civilisations. Remember, entry is exclusive to those who have secured their tickets online, ensuring an intimate and immersive experience.

 

Don’t miss this opportunity to walk through the corridors of history, witnessing the grandeur of ancient Egypt right in the heart of Turin.

Mole Antonelliana and the National Cinema Museum

Mole Antonelliana by night
Mole Antonelliana

The Mole Antonelliana, Turin’s iconic landmark, is a masterpiece of architectural grandeur and a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage. Designed by Alessandro Antonelli and commenced in 1863, it was initially intended to be a Jewish synagogue. Standing at a staggering height of 167.5 meters, it held the title of the tallest brick building in Europe for years. The Mole is named after its creator, Antonelli, and showcases an exquisite blend of styles, primarily Neo-Renaissance, with its unique aluminium spire dominating Turin’s skyline.

 

Inside this architectural wonder lies the National Cinema Museum, offering an immersive journey through the history of cinema. Spread over several floors, the museum is a treasure trove of cinematic artefacts, including early film equipment, historical posters, and an extensive library of film-related books and documents. Visitors can explore thematic areas dedicated to different genres and eras of cinema, making it a haven for film enthusiasts.

 

The Mole also features a panoramic lift, ascending to a viewing platform that provides breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding Alps. This combination of architectural splendour and the celebration of cinematic history makes the Mole Antonelliana and the National Cinema Museum a must-visit destination, attracting thousands of tourists and film aficionados annually. It embodies Turin’s architectural innovation and its longstanding connection with the arts and entertainment, making it an emblematic symbol of the city’s identity.

The Royal Residence of Venaria Reale

The Royal Residence of Venaria Reale
The Royal Residence of Venaria Reale

The Royal Residence of Venaria Reale, a stunning example of baroque magnificence and architectural grandeur, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a glimpse into royal opulence. Built in the 17th century as a hunting lodge for Duke Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy, it spans 80,000 square meters. The complex, renowned for its Hall of Diana, designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte, epitomises the luxurious lifestyle of the Savoy dynasty. The palace’s intricate frescoes, elaborate stuccos, and meticulously crafted decor are a testament to the artistic and cultural zenith of the Baroque period.

 

Surrounding the palace are 60 hectares of meticulously landscaped gardens and fountains, reflecting the typical French-style garden design of the era. The estate has undergone extensive restoration, reopening in 2007 to showcase its original splendour. Annually, Venaria Reale attracts over 900,000 visitors, drawn to its exquisite architecture, rich history, and beautifully restored gardens, making it a must-visit destination for those exploring Italy’s royal heritage and Baroque art.

MAUTO – The National Automobile Museum

MAUTO – The National Automobile Museum
Photo credit - MAUTO – The National Automobile Museum

The National Automobile Museum (MAUTO) in Turin, Italy, is a premier destination for automobile enthusiasts and historians. Established in 1932, it is one of the world’s oldest and most significant automobile museums. MAUTO’s extensive collection spans the entire automobile history, with over 200 unique vehicles on display, offering an unparalleled journey through the evolution of automotive design and technology.

 

Occupying an area of 19,000 square meters, the museum’s exhibits are meticulously curated to showcase the development of automobiles from the late 19th century to the present day. Among the museum’s most notable exhibits are the first Italian car, the 1896 Bernardi, and the legendary Fiat 4 HP, also known as “Fiat 1899”, Fiat’s first model ever produced. The museum also houses rare and iconic models like the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost of 1914, the Bugatti Royale of 1931, and the Ferrari 250 GT.

 

The museum underwent a significant renovation in 2011, led by architect Cino Zucchi, enhancing the visitor experience with interactive displays, multimedia presentations, and thematic areas. These include sections on car design, the transformation of cars over time, and their impact on society.

 

MAUTO isn’t just a collection of vintage cars; it’s a celebration of automotive history and culture. It attracts over 200,000 visitors annually, including researchers, students, and car enthusiasts, cementing its place as a pivotal institution in the global automotive industry. The museum’s significance is in its vast collection and its commitment to preserving and interpreting the rich heritage of automotive innovation.

The Vibrant Markets of Turin: Porta Palazzo and Balon

Porta Palazzo, Turin
Mercato di Porta Palazzo, Turin

Porta Palazzo Market, located in the heart of Turin, boasts the title of being Europe’s largest market. At its core lies Piazza della Repubblica, sprawling over 51,300 square meters, making it the city’s most expansive square. Its name, steeped in history, originates from the ancient Roman gate known as Palatina or Comitale.

This vibrant marketplace is more than a local hub; it’s a melting pot of global cultures. Here, farmers occupy dedicated spaces, while the majority of stalls are run by vendors from around the world. They bring a dazzling array of products, ranging from exquisite gastronomic delights to an eclectic mix of goods.

 

Porta Palazzo is often linked with the nearby Balon market, a place of historical significance dating back to 1698. Originally a site for cattle trade and agricultural goods, Balon today resembles the famed flea markets of Paris and London’s Portobello Road. It offers a treasure trove of items, from valuable antiques to more commonplace merchandise.

 

The name ‘Balon’ itself is intriguing, possibly derived from ‘Valon’ – a reference to the land’s slope towards the Dora river – or from an 18th-century ball game played in a sferisterio. This rich historical background adds to the allure of the area.

 

Porta Palazzo and Balon together form a unique cultural and commercial epicenter in Turin. These markets are not just shopping destinations; they are immersive experiences that showcase the blend of tradition and global influence. Discover the charm of Porta Palazzo Market, where history, culture, and global commerce converge in a lively, colorful setting.

Mercato di Porta Palazzo, Turin
Mercato di Porta Palazzo
Balon antique market
Balon antique market
Balon antique market

Turin: The Birthplace of the Italian Aperitif

Welcome to Turin, Italy’s unsung treasure, where the aperitif tradition isn’t just a pre-dinner ritual; it’s a cultural cornerstone. While many know of Italy’s aperitif culture, few realise its roots lie deep in the heart of Turin.

Imagine strolling through the elegant squares of this historic city as the clock strikes 6:00 PM. It’s time for an aperitif, an experience beyond just sipping a drink. It’s an art form, a social affair that brings the city to life.

 

Turin, a city where the past and present merge seamlessly, boasts the highest number of historic cafes in Italy. Each café tells a story, echoing a time when the likes of Benedetto Carpano mixed white wine with aromatic herbs in 1786, giving birth to Vermouth and the aperitif tradition.

 

You’ll find a vibrant aperitif scene as you wander through the Roman Quadrilateral or along the banks of the Po in Piazza Vittorio Veneto. From the Michelin-star aspirations of Caffè San Carlo to the multicultural vibrancy of San Salvario, Turin offers an aperitif for every taste.

 

But it’s not just about the drinks. The aperitif in Turin is a sensory journey, a blend of history, gastronomy, and friendliness. It’s where you’ll find locals and tourists indulging in small plates of regional delicacies, engaged in lively conversations under the city’s baroque arcades.

 

Often overshadowed by Italy’s more famed destinations, Turin is the proper custodian of the aperitif tradition. So, as you explore this hidden gem, remember: every sip of your Negroni or Americano is a toast to a centuries-old tradition that began right here, in the heart of Turin.

Roman Quadrilateral
An evening at the Roman Quadrilateral

Capturing Turin: Photographic Hotspots

Monte dei Cappuccini
View from Monte dei Cappuccini

Turin’s picturesque landscape offers myriad photo opportunities. Monte dei Cappuccini provides panoramic city views, ideal for capturing Turin’s skyline, especially at sunset. Renzo Piano’s Intesa Sanpaolo skyscraper, another prime spot, offers a unique perspective from its 35th-floor observation deck, blending architectural marvels with the Alpine backdrop.

Turin’s Art Nouveau Architecture

Palazzo della Vittoria, Turin
Palazzo della Vittoria

Turin’s Cit Turin district is a treasure trove of Art Nouveau architecture, known locally as Liberty style, a movement that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This area showcases the city’s embrace of this artistic and architectural style, characterised by its flowing lines, floral motifs, and elegant forms.

 

One of the most notable structures is the Casa Fenoglio-Lafleur, a prominent figure in Turin’s Art Nouveau movement, designed by Pietro Fenoglio. This building is a masterpiece of Liberty style, with its intricate façades, detailed stucco work, and stained glass. Another significant edifice is the Villino Raby, which has ornate decorations and a whimsical design.

 

These buildings, like the Palazzo della Vittoria and Casa La Fleur, represent an essential chapter in Turin’s architectural history. They reflect the era’s artistic trends and the city’s inclination towards modernity and innovation, making Cit Turin a must-visit for enthusiasts of Art Nouveau architecture.

Discover Condominio 25 Verde – Turin’s Urban Forest

In Turin, close to the Po River and Valentino Park, the “Condominio 25 Verde” is a testament to innovative, sustainable urban living. Designed by Luciano Pia, this residential building is a pioneering example of bio-architecture, blending environmental sustainability with urban design. Its inception in 2007 marked a significant stride in eco-friendly construction.

 

The structure’s defining feature is its use of vegetation, creating a chameleon-like effect that changes the building’s appearance. Envisioned as an inhabitable forest, it features steel structures resembling trees, irregular terraces with roots, and water bodies, culminating in verdant rooftop gardens. The building houses 63 unique units, each with dual terraces. Its 150 tall trees create a microclimate, producing 150 litres of oxygen hourly and reducing air pollution.

 

“Condominio 25 Verde” stands out in urban green architecture, offering a blueprint for sustainable, nature-integrated living in city centres.

 

Would you live here? At ExpertoItaly, we didn’t hesitate for a moment… and the answer was a resounding yes, even if the prices are steep.

Where to Stay

Elegant and unfussy, with a great location in one of Italy’s most understated cities.

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