Arts & Culture
Travel In Italy
Turin: A Touch of Northern Italian Life
When one thinks of Italy, the images of sprawling museums, vineyards in the Tuscan countryside, and beaches with parasols are what mostly come to mind. And yet, hidden in the Alpine Piedmont region is the mountain city of Turin, offering a touch of Northern Italian life that every visitor needs to see and enjoy.
Northern Italian life is distinctive, especially when compared to other regions. We think of Italy as a whole, as one thing, almost a cliché. But Italy didn’t even exist before the American Civil War. Think about that. One of the great civilizations of humanity, the Roman empire, is not Italy as we know it today. The country existed as many nation states, each with a distinction that remains to this day. Turin, as the defacto capital of northern Italian life draws many influences from nearby countries like Switzerland and France. It’s people, food, and culture are equally mixed and distinct.
Italy’s alpine gem exemplifies northern Italian life
Turin is famous for its main cathedral, the Duomo di San Giovanni Battista, built between 1491-1498, which houses the Shroud of Turin. Located next to the Palazzo Reale, previously home to the nobles of the House of Savoy. The Shroud is believed to be the linen cloth Jesus Christ was wrapped in after the crucifixion. Regardless of beliefs, it is still an amazing experience to see it in person while you are visiting the city.
Within the city center are a flurry of cafés and trattorias, many of which are located in arcaded piazzas, reminding us of Turin’s northern styles.
Piazza Carlos Felice is a short walk from Turin’s main train station, and offers a wonderful green space in the middle of town. It is ornate with outdoor cafés among elegant gardens, and is the perfect stop for anyone who explores the city by walking throughout the day.
Another must-see is the Mole Antonelliana & Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Once known for being the tallest building in Europe, this museum of film is a gigantic site, offering its visitors a detailed history of film, as well as actual props from movies and a plethora of movie posters. There are also special interactive exhibits which bring the visitor into the movie’s creative process. Tickets are available to purchase online, or at the entrance.
Perhaps the most intriguing site to visit in Turin is the Museo Egizio, containing a great collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. The museum even contains an example of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and mummified animals. The collection is one of the largest outside of Egypt, and deserves a visit. Tickets can be purchased online or at the entrance.
Another interesting place to visit is the Basilica of Superga.
The Basilica of Superga, also known as the real Basilica of Superga, stand of the hill of the same name, 672 meters above sea level, north-east of Turin. It was built by King Vittorio Amedeo us a thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary, after defeating the French.
While many places in Italy are famous for Renaissance Art, pristine beaches, and endless vineyards, Turin’s northern Italian life and it’s mountain charm is yet another example of how regions in Italy vary in their cultural offerings. The mountainous region is worth visiting during all seasons, and its museums, piazzas, and cathedral remind us that Italy constantly has amazing treasures to offer.
Travel Like A Local:
- Door of the melograno: The fantastic “Portone del Melograno” is certainly not part of a typical Turin itinerary. The perfect Liberty style is highlighted and it is perhaps the most scenic door in the city, as dear to Turin as it is unknown to tourists. The door dates back to 1907 and depicts a pomegranate plant with ripe fruit and branches full of leaves. An elegant and timeless workmanship.
- Monte dei Cappuccini: Secluded and close to Piazza Vittorio, the view from Monte dei cappuccini is the deal place for a romantic moment at sunset. It is a very popular destination for photographers when the city is covered with a very suggestive snow cover in winter. A place dear to all lovers.
- The Balon: Turin is also the city of vintage and antiques: the Balon is the largest and oldest flea market in Turin and fans of the genre can really find everything. This is a pure institution for the Turinese, we can find it every Saturday. In addition, every second Sunday of the month, the Gran Balon opens, an ever bigger flea market. We can find so many stalls with lots of vintage objects in via PO, instead in the Galleria Subalpina, another destination for every Turinese. It is possible to find rare antiques, unique and ancient objects. Unmissable place.
- The Piole: The Piole are typical places of the traditional Turin area where local food and wines are served at reasonable prices (in the rest of Italy they are more commonly called osterie or trattorias). They are places with a family atmosphere, offering simple traditional local dishes, often family-run, in which we find ancient culinary recipes handed down from generation to generation.