Turin….home to chocolate, the Salone del Gusto food fair, Grom icecream, Eataly and Fiat. We have visited Piedmont many times but somehow we had never managed to spend any time in Turin. This time, however, it fitted perfectly into our itinerary. We would take the train from Milan to Turin, stay 3 nights then pick up the car and drive to the hill top towns of Piedmont.
The Winter Olympics in 2006 proved a turning point for Turin and since then, I am told, the city has regained it’s splendour. This beautiful baroque town with it’s arcaded streets, elegant cafés and shops, offers many sites to visit.
These are my top 5 places to visit in Turin.
1. Piazza Castello
Piazza Castello or Castle Square as it is known, is the centre of the city. It is surrounded by arcades on three sides, each built in a different period. Palazzo Reale stands magestically at one end with Palazzo Madama (The Antique Art Museum) and Armeria Reale (The Royal Armoury) also overlooking the square. From here the four main streets of Turin radiate. Via Po, Via Garibaldi, Via Roma and Via Pietro Mica lead you to different corners of the city.
2. Palazzo Reale
The Palazzo Reale was the home of the royal family from 1660 until the Unification of Italy in 1861. The State Apartments in the Palazzo provide a glimpse of life in these times.
3. Museo Egizo – The Egyptian Museum
This is one of the most important museums outside of Egypt. At the time of the Naploeonic wars, the French Consul General in Egypt, Bernard Drovetti, a Piemontese, had amassed a huge collection of Egyptian relics and it was this that formed the basis of this amazing collection. Sculptures, reconstructed temples and every day objects are beautifully displayed.
The 14th century B.C tomb of Kha I, complete with food tools and ornaments is fascinating.
4.The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin is found in Turin’s Cathedral dedicated to St John the Baptist. It is kept behind bullet proof glass, housed in a silver casket, inside an iron box, which is inside a marble coffer! The closest you will get to seeing the Shroud is by watching a short video that plays continuously before you see where it lies. The next public display of the shroud is in 2025.
5. Palazzo Carignano
I love the curved brick exterior of this palazzo built in 1679 for the Carignano family. A large sign on the top states that Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s first king was born here. After Italy was unified in 1861, it was used as the home of the first parliament. It is now home to the Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento which tells the story of the Unification. An interesting art exhibition enabled us to see the richly decorated rooms of the palazzo.
If you are going to spend a few days in Turin and Piedmont, the Torino + Piedmont Card gives you free admission to more than 160 sites and discounts on some guided tours as well as the Choco pass. The card is bought for a period of 2- 7 days.
Another pass that is very popular if you are a chocolate addict is the Choc Pass which allows you 10 tastings in different cafés and chocolate shops in 2 days.
Both these passes can be bought at the tourist office in Piazza Castello.
Have you been to Turin? What was your favourite place to visit?
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