Turin: Italy’s Best Kept Secret
I first laid eyes on Turin twenty years ago. It was grimy; all the buildings were blackened; cars parked haphazardly in all the large squares. It was truly an industrial city that nobody wanted to visit. A bit more than ten years later, a miracle occurred. The Winter Olympics came to Turin! Buildings were cleaned; Squares were made into pedestrian areas with parking underneath; museums were opened. Turin is now a jewel of a city with a large number of palaces, fantastic museums, beautiful piazzas, and a lively restaurant scene. The city has turned into a must-see destination in Italy. Tourists are beginning to arrive in small numbers and a few bus tours have put the city on their Italian itinerary, but it is still relatively unknown.
Hundreds of years ago, Turin was the seat of the Savoy kingdom. The kings and queens so much enjoyed strolling from their palace in Piazza Castello, down to Piazza Vittorio, which is flanked by the River Po, that they had covered walkways built all the way through the city centre so that they could walk in any weather. These arched walkways today are now a beautiful feature of the centre.
His mountain museum occupies five locations. The central museum Castello Firmiano and four branch museums devoted to individual themes is truly unique. I have visited Castello Firmiano and I really enjoyed the feeling of experiencing man’s encounter with the mountains. In a setting dominated by various peaks between the Schlern and the Texel range, the museum is spacious enough to be organised as an itinerary between the various works of art, installations and relics that it houses.
Turin is also famous for its coffee and chocolate. Stop in one of its many historic cafes, so that you can marvel at the frescoed ceilings, or enjoy your cappuccino “al fresco”, in one of the many restored squares. Piazza San Carlo houses two of the oldest institutions in the city: Café San Carlo and Café Torino. You can sip your coffee outdoors while watching some of the many buskers who perform regularly through the town, or just enjoy the Italian sport of people-watching. To really experience the Turin coffee culture, try a Bicerin (pronounced “bicherine”). This is a drink unique to Turin made delicious layers of hot chocolate, coffee and cream. It’s hard to stop at one!