I can't remember when my fascination with Turin started, but for the past few years, I have been drawn to the city. It is loaded with history. In fact, nearly all of Italy’s history leading to the country's unification was centralized in Turin. It's beautiful. I kept seeing all these beautiful pictures - the mountains in the background, the clean roads and sidewalks, and all the chocolate shops. It seemed like the perfect city - a clean version of the typical Italian city. Below is a quick guide to the city, of course, starting with the food.
What to Eat
Turin is located in the Piedmonte region of northern Italy, surrounded by the Alps mountains. It is best known for chocolate, but it is also well known for the abundance of palaces and creation of the Fiat. In fact, Torino is credited for inventing Nutella, a beloved treat among Italians.
Nutella began as a chocolate spread called "pasta gianduja." During the English embargo on cocoa during the Napoleonic wars, cocoa became too expensive, and the guanduja spread had to be improvised - thus, in 1964 the Turinese began adding hazelnuts to the spread and called it Nutella!
Credit: Food Lover's Odyssey
Bicerin (which essentially translates to "little glass") is a hot drink invented in 1763 for aristocrats and artists. Today, the coffee, chocolate, and cream mixture is enjoyed by all citizens as a decadent treat. For a regal experience, visit Caffè al Bicerin, the original Bicerin cafe to enjoy a 5 euro coffee (Piazza della Consolata, 5)
Photo by @stefina68
What to Do
As I walked through the streets, I couldn’t help but feel the elegance around me. Turin has large boulevards, arcade shopping malls, and a peculiarly large amount of palaces, and while it is almost impossible to see them all in one day, it's reasonable to spend an hour or two inside the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace). If you happen to visit in the spring or summer, you can also visit the Gardini Reali (Royal Gardens).
The façade dates back to 1658, while the staircase leading up to the first floor (pictured below) was redone in 1864 by Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s first king. The interiors of the rooms are decorated with gilt, stucco, frescos, tapestries, and chandeliers. There is even a specific throne room for the King and Queen (Sala del Trono & Sala del Trono della Regina). It is one of the most impressive buildings in all of Italy.
Open daily, except Monday from 9:00 am until 7:00 pm
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of the entire city, the Mole Antonelliana is a 167 meter tall tower, whose aluminium spire dominates the Turin skyline. It was the official emblem for the 2006 Winter Olympics and it even appears on the 2 cent Euro coin. While it was originally built to be a synagogue, it now houses the National Cinema Museum (Museo Nazionale del Cinema), making it the tallest museum in the world. Entrance to the museum is 14 euros and also includes a lift to the top deck of the Mole Antonelliana for panoramic views. You can also buy a separate ticket for just the elevator for 7 euros.
Hours: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm Sunday, Mon & Wed-Fri, and 10 am to 11 pm Saturday
Address: Via Montebello 20, Turino, Italia
Turin is also home to the second most important Egyptian museums in the world, only behind Cairo. The Museo Egizio holds 30,000 artifacts of outstanding quality. In 1753, King Charles Emmanuel III sent Vitaliano Donati to Egypt. He came back with 30 Egyptian artifacts, which began the impressive collection. Founded in 1824, the museum today holds an entire Papyrus collection room, the Temple of Tuthmosi III and the Tombs of Kha and of Merit.
Address: Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6, 10123
Hours: 9:00 am - 6:30 pm daily Tuesday - Sunday, and 9:00 am - 2 pm on Monday
Turin is home to many events throughout the year. Make sure to check the website for exact dates.
Torino Jazz Festival - Events take place in Piazza Castello and around Piazza Vittorio Veneto from April 25th to May 1st.
Turin International Book Fair - For five days every May, Turin hosts an International Book Fair to open the doors for literature debates, science, cinema, and journalism.
TorinoDanza Festival - held during the last week of September, the Danza festival which is intended to reach out to new and contemporary forms of choreography.
Turin International Street Theatre Festival - Turin hosts live performances throughout the streets in September. Over 1,000 artists from all over the world gather for these shows, meetings, and workshops. And, of course, if you happen to see a live street performance, it is free to watch!
Torino Film Festival focuses on up and coming filmmakers and gives attention to different new artistic trends, both in Italy and internationally. Typically held during the last week of November, this festival is Italy's second most important film festival (behind Venice), and has even earned the city the title, 'Tollywood.'
CioccolaTo, a 10-day-long chocolate fair for chocoholics from around the world. It runs each year, from the end of November through the beginning of December.