Dear Buzztrippers! I am back with a brand-new post: today we are moving to Piedmont, located in the North-Western part of Italy. Buzztripping has spent her Easter holidays discovering Turin, ranked 6th in the Lonely Planet top-ten list of European best destinations for 2015. I left without any particular plans or expectactions, spending 3 days there, basically exploring the old town and some of its museums. Ready to discover 10 Turin must-do experiences?
Let’s be honest: until the end of 20th century, nobody would have ever considered Turin as a touristic destination. As a matter of fact, the city rather represented the Italian industrial “boom” after Second World War, thanks to its most important automotive company, FIAT, and attracted thousands of immigrants from Southern Italy. Although Turin had been for centuries the capital of Piedmont-Sardinia (and of the Italian new-born Reign from 1861 to 1865), and in spite of its magnificent Baroque architecture, it is traditionally associated with industriousness and manifacturing activities. The booming period ended in the 80s: consequently, local public administration decided to bet on tourism from the 90s onwards, in order to relaunch the city economy. The gamble definitely paid off: nowadays Turin can boast an efficient public transport network, several renowned museums (most of them have been recently renovated), plenty of bars and clubs, an elegant old town, and a constantly growing number of tourists.
While visiting I could draw up a list of 10 Turin must-do experiences: keep on reading to know something more about the former capital of Italy.
- Plunge into the 18th century grandeur of Palazzo Reale. Walk around its magnificent halls and let them mesmerize you, with their golden plaster decorations, red brocades, rich tapestries and majestic canvas. Take your time to admire the Ballroom with its spectacular chandeliers, the Chinese Room with its oriental decorations, the Daniel Gallery with its ceiling frescoes and its mirrored walls (compared by critics to Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors), and the Royal Armoury with its armours and weapons dating back to different centuries. Buzztripping suggestion: you will nead at least 3 hours to visit the whole Royal Palace (including the Savoy Gallery, the Gardens and the Library).
- Relax on the chaise-longues of Museo del Cinema. While visiting the Museo del Cineam (that opened in 2000), take a break lying on the red chaise-longues of its main hall, located in the Mole Antonelliana. The Museum, based on a spectacular project of the architect François Confino, has been conceived as a real temple, with a main “celebration hall” and several “chapels” dedicated to the most famous cinema genres. Buzztripping suggestion: before heading to the main hall, explore the section dedicated to the origins of cinema, among kaleidoscopes, Kaiserpanoramas, magic lanterns and so on… you will feel like a kid in a toys’ shop!
- Try the Apericena in San Salvario area. This is one of the most delicious Turin must-do experiences. San Salvario is the most multietnic district in Turin, with a church, a Valdese church and a Synagogue peacefully coexisting in the same area. Here you will find clubs, pubs, bistrot, restaurants, rhum pubs… but above all, you will have plenty of possibilities to choose from for your “apericena” (an aperitif with an open buffet offering several specialties). Buzztripping suggestion: go to Lanificio San Salvatore or Diwan Café for a good cocktail with delicious Italian tapas!
- Buy some typical food in Porta Palazzo Market. This market is, pure and simple, amazing! It is one of the biggest daily markets (open from Monday to Saturday) in Europe and consists of several areas: a liberty pavillon (1912) focused on meat, pasta, salami and bread, a modern area created by the archistar Fuksas with clothes’ shops, and a huge and extraordinary open-air market with fruit and vegetables. Here vendors keep screaming out loud to promote their best products: whoever shouts the loudest eventually wins! Buzztripping suggestion: choose a Saturday for your visit here, since you will be able to visit the “Balon”, an antiques’ market located right behind Porta Palazzo, as well. Vintage clothes, old furniture, bauble… a small Portobello road!
- Stroll around Via Roma and Via Lagrange. These are the main pedestrian areas of Turin old town: Via Roma ends up in Piazza Castello and is the most “affordable” one in terms of shopping possibilities, whereas Via Lagrange presents several fancy and expensive boutiques. Buzztripping suggestion: stop at Eataly in Via Lagrange to buy some typical Italian food and explore the squares in the area (the elegant Piazza San Carlo with its 2 identical churches and the rationalist Piazza CLN).
- Taste a Bicerin where Savoy queens did. You have two options here. One: sip your Bicerin (espresso, hot chocolate and whole milk served layered in a small rounded glass) at café Baratti Milano (with view over the Subalpina Gallery, a wonderful late 19th century commercial gallery), where Savoy aristocracy spent time chatting, reading local newspapers, discussing about the new-born Italy reign. Or two (Buzztripping suggestion): opt for Piazza Vittorio Veneto and its café Elena, the Queen’s favourite, and enjoy the magnificent view over the square and the river Po.
- Admire San Lorenzo Church and its optical effects. Strolling around Turin you may see some fascinating curvilinear palaces (such as Palazzo Carignano, now hosting the Museum of Italian Risorgimento) created by the briliant architect Guarino Guarini. One of them is definitely incredible: San Lorenzo Church, right next to Palazzo Reale. Take your time to discover the curved architectural lines, to admire the polychrome marbles, to identify the contrast between a symbolic lower dark area (mortal life) and an upper bright space (heavenly dimension).
- Take a break at Parco del Valentino. Do not miss this park, located along the river Po, for the most relaxing of these Turin must-do experiences. It opened in 1856, developed according to romantic canons by the architect Barillet Dechamps. Buzztripping suggestion: walk along the riverfront in order to admire the Park’s most important monuments (the Medieval Castle, built in 1884 to recreate the atmosphere of Piedmont existing Middle Age castles, and the Valentino Castle, once used by Savoy family as summer residence).
- Discover the industrial architecture of Lingotto. This huge complex was the former factory of FIAT (opened in 1923), the most important automotive industry in Italy. It had 5 floors, with an impressive rooftop level used to test cars performances, and was considered as one of the most significant examples of industrial architecture (even praised by Le Corbusier). After FIAT decline, it was renovated by Renzo Piano, who transformed it into a multifunctional space, with a concert hall, a theatre, many shops, a hotel and so on.
- Feel like in the ancient Egypt: Here is the last of my 10 Turin must-do experiences. Turin presents one of the largest Egypt Museums in the whole world, housing more than 30.000 artefacts. The first nucleus of the collection was acquired by Savoy house in the 18th century, exponentially growing in the following centuries. Here you will find mummies, everyday objects, perfectly preserved clothes, papyrus, and a spectacular black hall with huge statues. Buzztripping suggestion: you may prefer booking a guided visit in order to better lose yourself into the secrets of Egyptian civilization.
Did you like these Turin must-do experiences? I will definitely come back to further explore this elegant and surprising city!This entry was posted in Piedmont