It’s a little known fact but Turin was briefly the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy, from 1861 until 1865; after which a national referendum in 1870 decided the capital should be moved to Rome. Situated in the North West of Italy on the River Po, Turin is the capital of Piedmont and is a wonderful holiday destination that attracts several million visitors including expats each year.
Turin (Torino in Italian) was a major Roman encampment during the height of the empire although after the Roman empire collapsed Turin continued to remain an important cultural and economic city in the region. During the 14th Century the Turin city-state began to grow rapidly and over the next few hundred years many of its most iconic architectural projects were completed.
After the Second World War, during which Turin was badly damaged, the city was rebuilt and soon became central to the booming Italian automobile industry. In the modern world Turin is still one of Italy’s major ports but it’s also a top destination for tourists to the region.
How To Get To Turin?
Getting to Turin is easy from abroad or within Italy. Turin has a major international airport, Turin Caselle, which is served by large airliners as well as low cost intercontinental carriers.
If you’re traveling to Turin from within Italy then it’s probably going to be easiest to catch a high speed train into one of the city’s central train stations. There are 3 main train stations in Turin. The Porta Nuova connects with trains from Florence, Rome, Bologna and Genoa while the Porta Susa connects with trains from Venice and Milan. The Lingotto FS station operates train services that run to the Southern provinces of Italy.
You can also drive to Turin from within Italy or elsewhere in Europe although it can be difficult to find parking in the busy city! However, the highways and toll roads are well maintained so if you do decide to drive to Turin you should make good time on your route.
Lastly, you can travel to Turin by bus which is the slowest way to get there although it is also the cheapest! You can catch a bus to Turin directly from Milan or Genoa.
The Best Things To Do In Turin.
The following are some of the best things to do in Turin:
Visit The Palazzo Reale.
This grand 16th Century palace is one of the city’s most striking buildings that dominates the Piazza Castello where the palace itself has been a symbol of Turin for several centuries.
The simple design of the outer façade hides a decadent interior which you can explore on your own or with a guided tour group. The palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the late 1990s and is a must see during your time in the city.
The Palazzo Reale used to be the main residence of the House of Savoy, a powerful banking and merchant family that lived in and around Turin. Inside the palace you can explore the Armory where you can marvel at more than 5000 unique artifacts that range from prehistoric archeological finds to 20th Century collectibles.
If you’d like to join a half day guided tour of the palace then you can meet up with a guide at 14.45 outside the Teatro Regio di Torino. As well as learning about the palace and being guided around its elegant interiors you will also visit other major Turin landmarks including Piazza Arignano, Porta Palatina and San Giovanni Battista Cathedral as part of the tour.
The second major palace in Turin, which has more than its fair share of regal residences, is the Palazzo Madama. This extravagant palace is situated in the Piazza Castello, near to the Palazzo Reale and was first built during the 13th Century at the dawn of the Italian Renaissance.
The palace has undergone several periods of renovation and although it was originally built as a defensive fortress during the 13th Century it was eventually converted into a luxury palace residence.
The outer façade is decorated with beautiful sculptures that stand amongst ornate columns and stone work. Inside the lovely palace you can walk through the stunning 4 storey museum to appreciate the antiques, artwork and unique private collections in the many rooms and exhibitions.
A visit to the Palazzo Madama’s museum will give you a wonderful insight into the history of Turin and the way in which it was influenced by the ideas of the Renaissance. You’ll be able to see first hand how the city managed to become extremely wealthy and the ways in which the Renaissance style was modified to suit the city’s own traditions.
Mole Antonelliana And The National Cinema Museum.
As one of Turin’s most recognizable landmarks, the Mole Antonelliana is a beautiful cathedral that dominates the city’s skyline. Although it was originally built as a Jewish Synagogue, it’s now a Christian basilica that is lit up at night and plays a major role in the religious life of the city.
Within the basilica you can visit the National Cinema Museum which is not only full of interesting exhibits but it’s also officially the tallest museum in the world! To get the most out of your visit to the Mole Antonelliana you can join a guided tour. The 2 hour guided tour takes a maximum of 10 visitors around the site and provides you with headphones so you won’t miss a word of what the guide is saying!
The National Museum of Cinema traces the history of the artform right back to its earliest days but it also has newly installed interactive exhibits alongside antique artifacts. Included in the collection, which is spread across 5 floors, you can see film posters, movie reels, cinema props and other valuable collectibles. As you’ll quickly realize when you visit the National Cinema Museum, this is a real cultural Mecca for film buffs and movie enthusiasts from all over the world!
Turin Egyptian Museum.
Egypt was a vital trading partner for the Roman Empire but the ancient civilization not only provided grains and other staples to Italy but also had a major cultural and artistic influence on the trajectory of Roman development. The Turin Egyptian Museum hosts a wonderful series of exhibits and contains a remarkable number of artifacts, priceless relics and other unique items which makes a fantastic half day trip to explore.
Originally opening its doors in 1833, the museum has been expanded over the last century with some of the most notable items in their collections including authentic statues of Seti II, Sekhmet, Ramesses as well as mummies, sarcophaguses and fragile papyruses full of fascinating hieroglyphics. There are also plenty of everyday items on display from ancient Egypt such as earthen pots and traditional homeware.
Located between the Piazza San Carlo and the Piazza Castello, right in the center of the city, it’s easy to access the Turin Egyptian Museum which is surrounded by lovely cafes and restaurants to have your lunch in.
You can take a guided tour or explore the museum on your own by renting an audio guide with headphones to give you more information about the exhibits on display.
Take An Underground Walking Tour Of Turin.
One of the most unusual things that you can do while you’re in Turin is to join an Underground Walking Tour of the city! Beneath the daily hustle and bustle of the city is a secret city that’s made up of a whole myriad of tunnels, citadels and mysterious chambers.
Situated more than 15 meters beneath the city the tunnels, cellars and chambers are packed with mystery and have been the site of many unsolved murders during the history of the medieval Turin!
Typically the tours depart at 2pm from in front of the Pietro Micca Museum and last about 1 hour 30 minutes; so you’ll still have plenty of time left over in the evening to explore the city center before finding a restaurant for dinner.
For modern art lovers, the GAM, or Gallery of Modern Art, is one of Turin’s cultural icons which hosts an inspiring series of changing exhibitions that touch on a surprising array of topics and life experiences.
Established in 1895, Turin was one of the world’s first cities to create a gallery that only hosted modern art. The GAM currently houses more than 5000 paintings, installations, drawings and sculptures so you’re bound to find a few things that really impress you!
Some of the top modern artists’ work that you can see in the GAM includes Carra, Guttuso, Renoir, Chagall and even Modigliani! The highly eclectic collections are a fascinating look into the modern art of Europe which makes a visit to the gallery the perfect way to spend a morning in Turin.
The GAM gallery is located in Crocetta and can most easily be reached by catching a train on the Porta Nuova underground line.
Juventus Football Stadium.
Soccer, or ‘football’ as it’s known in Italy, is ingrained in the Italian way of life and there are few teams with a higher status and a longer history of success than the legendary Juventus team. With an amazing capacity of over 40,000 the Juventus Football Stadium is an impressive site even when it’s not packed with cheering fans!
So whether you’re a football fanatic or would just be interested to learn more about Italy’s number one sporting team, then a tour of the Juventus Stadium should be on your list of things to do while you’re in Turin.
You can book tours as well as tickets to live games on the official website of the Juventus Football Club. You’ll also be able to explore the stadium and visit the Juventus Museum to find out all about this prestigious club’s amazing club match history.
Turin Is The Jewel Of Northern Italy.
Turin is a fantastic holiday destination where you can see some of the most interesting cultural icons in Italy; including the National Museum of Cinema, the Turin Egyptian Museum and the Palazzo Madama.
There’s an excellent range of accommodation available for all budgets and the cuisine is a great example of Northern Italian traditions. So whether you’re a tourist or an Expat you can’t afford to miss out on visiting Turin, a real jewel in the Northern crown.