Turin. Italy’s elegant former capital is packed with surprises

By Thursday, 16 March 2023 10:35

The best way to visit Turin, Italy’s elegant former capital, like all cities rich in history, art, and architecture, is to discover it on foot, using public transport only for longer journeys.

The city's square layout, inherited from its Roman past, makes it easy for tourists to orient themselves, with the main squares and monuments serving as points of reference.

The central San Carlo square has many historic cafés 

The first stop in Turin is undoubtedly Piazza San Carlo, the elegant pedestrian square that the people of Turin have nicknamed "the living room of Turin." Under its arcades, there are elegant shops and some of the city's historic cafes, including the simply stunning Caffé Torino, which dates back to 1903. In Liberty style, which was an Italian variant of Art Nouveau, the Caffé Torino was the first bar to have electric lighting.

The world-famous Egyptian Museum is a must-see

From Piazza San Carlo, taking Via Maria Vittoria for about a hundred meters, you reach the vicinity of the Egyptian Museum. It is the oldest Egyptian museum in the world and the most famous after the museum in Cairo. Founded in 1824, it is dedicated exclusively to Egyptian art, and among the collection's artifacts there are mummies, sarcophagi, papyri, statues, and much more.


Turin has many magical and esoteric places worth visiting

Piazza Castello, the elegant former capital’s main pedestrian square, can be considered the heart of Turin. Turin’s main shopping streets branch out from it, including Via Garibaldi, Via Po, and the luxurious Via Lagrange and Via Roma. Then there is the Royal Palace, the most important of the Savoy residences in Piedmont, and Palazzo Madama, now the seat of the Museum of Ancient Art. Perhaps not everyone knows that this is one of the places in the Turin magic triangle. If you are interested in discovering the history and magical and esoteric places of Turin, you can take the Magical Turin tour, every Thursday and Saturday evening at 9 pm, starting from Piazza Statuto. 

Is the Holy Grail in the Gran Madre di Dio Church?

Strolling under the arcades of Via Po you reach Piazza Vittorio Veneto, one of the largest porticoed squares in Europe, recently restored and made pedestrian. Piazza Vittorio overlooks the Po River, looking towards the Church of Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappuccini, and towards the Church of the Gran Madre di Dio. It is in this beautiful church, on the other side of the river, that legend has it, that the famous Holy Grail, the chalice from which Christ drank during the Last Supper, is located. 

mole antonelliana Mole Antonelliana

Exceptional 360° views from the elevator in the Museum of Cinema 

Passing through the elegant former capital’s Via Montebello, you reach Turin's iconic building, the Mole Antonelliana. Built in 1873 by the architect Alessandro Antonelli, it was initially designed as a synagogue, but the construction eventually reached an enormous height (topping 167 meters it is the tallest building in Turin). It houses the National Museum of Cinema which is another absolute must-visit! There is a panoramic elevator that takes visitors up to a height of 85 meters. And, on clear days, they can admire an exceptional 360-degree view of the city, the Turin hills, and the Alps with their snow-capped peaks for much of the year.

The Reggia di Venaria royal palace is not to be missed

For nature lovers there is the Valentino Park, Turin's green lung, with its medieval village, and from there, you can follow the Po river by walking along the Murazzi, which reconnect to Piazza Vittorio Veneto.  You should not miss the opportunity to visit the Reggia di Venaria royal palace with its magnificent gardens and splendid temporary exhibitions. Also worth a visit are the recently reopened salons of the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi, a charming hunting lodge, and the other Savoy residences in the area surrounding the elegant former capital of Italy. 

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