Ask a handful of people what comes to mind when they think of Turin and you may well wonder if they’re talking about the same city.
Turin’s played many roles over the years, from capital city and political powerhouse to industrial hub famous for the manufacture or Fiat (and providing the set for that scene in the Italian Job.) Politics and industry aside, the Alpine location of the city has contributed to its reputation as a sporting capital, putting itself well and truly on the map after hosting the Winter Olympics in 2006. Furthermore, it’s the home of fp’s beloved football team, Juventus. Fraudulent past aside, they’re pretty good at football.
So with a city which ticks all the boxes, how do you decide what to do in just one day? We found ourselves in this exact predicament after spontaneously making the trip from Liguria. With no time to spare, we hit the best sights, ensuring we fed ourselves well en route! So, here’s my whistle stop tour of Turin:
Start the day wandering around Turin’s many squares and Piazzas, most notably the famous Piazza Castello which lined by cafes, restaurants, museums and theatres is an easy place to spend a few hours. In the centre of the square you’ll find the Palazzo Madama, an imposing ancient castle. Make sure you walk all the way around to take in both the medieval and baroque facades, startlingly different in their appearances. You can amble inside and see some of the the excavation work for free, or pay a €10 entry to go into the castle and its museum.
You’ll soon be in need of some refreshment, and where better to head than the nearby Caffè San Carlo (piazza San Carlo 156). This opulent caffe dating back to 1842, boasts an imposing chandelier, with walls adorned with large gilded mirrors. You’ll most definitely wish you’d dressed up for the occasion, but fortunately the grandeur of the place isn’t reflected in the prices, with your coffee stop costing you the same as any mediocre coffee house in London.
If you have a sweet tooth, try the hot chocolate with cream; a sickly cup of thick melted chocolate which even the most devout chocolate lover will struggle to get through. I was defeated after just a few mouthfuls, pathetic I know! If you’re more of a coffee connoisseur, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
If you can drag yourself away, burn off the excess calories by walking to Mole Antonelliana. This was a must- do on my list, however, the long queues in the morning initially put us off and we decided to head back in the afternoon. A strike of luck meant there was no queue, perhaps as it was lunch time, so the Italians were taking an obligatory long lunch!
The Mole Antonelliana, named after the architect who designed it, Alessandro Antonelli, houses the Muse Nazionale del Cinema, and as well as being one of Turin’s most iconic landmarks is also the tallest museum in the world. Entry to the museum and panoramic lift will cost you €14, however, given we were short for time we decided to skip to the museum and head straight to the viewing point. The panoramic lift takes you straight up the centre of the building, a rather hair raising ride if you’re not good with heights! The glass walls allow you to see the museum around you as you ascend; from a quick glimpse it looked to be worth a visit, so we’ve earmarked it for next time.
The viewing point is spectacular offering you views across the rooftops of Turin and the River Po, with the Alps making a stunning backdrop. It goes without saying, that a lot of photos were taken!
After taking in the view, grab an espresso to perk you up at the small Eataly shop in the entrance to the museum or pick up a piadina across the street before heading down to the banks of the River Po. In summer the banks are bustling with pop up bars and restaurants for the locals who haven’t fled to the cooler climes of the beach. In winter it’s much quieter, and the perfect location to take in the last of the afternoon light and reflect on your day.
If you have any energy left, a trip to Turin wouldn’t be complete without visiting the original Eataly; a food haven for any Italophile. Promising you the best produce sourced from all over Italy, it’s a great place to stock up on all your Italian essentials. If you haven’t got space in your luggage, don’t worry it’s still worth a visit. There’s numerous small restaurants inside, serving up the produce themselves, so after a long day in Turin, sit back and enjoy a plate of pasta and glass of wine safe in the knowledge it’s the best Italy has to offer!
We only scratched the surface of Turin, so a return visit is definitely in order, even if it involves watching Juventus!