This post is by Marica Gatti.
With its elegant palaces and former royal residences, museums, churches, and a lively atmosphere, Turin is one of the best destinations in Italy. It is also one of the capitals of Italian cuisine, with many local traditions handed down from generation to generation. If you love architecture, culture and mouthwatering food, you will definitely enjoy a day in Turin!
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Turin has a long and rich history stretching back to Roman times. However the city had its heyday from the 16th to the 19th centuries when it was the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, and then became the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy. Turin is known as “the cradle of Italian liberty”, a reference to its pivotal political and intellectual role during the Risorgimento, the period of Italy’s unification.
There are many reasons to visit Turin. It is full of beautiful churches and of unique museums like the Museo Egizio and the Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Moreover, Turin has several buildings included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as Residences of the Royal House of Savoy.
This stunning building dates back to the 17th century, and was the residence of the Savoy family for three centuries. One of the best UNESCO sites in Turin, the Palazzo Reale boasts a mix of baroque and neoclassical styles. The best things to see in the palace are the king’s apartments, the royal library, the Galleria Sabauda, and the royal gardens.
Another UNESCO-listed building, this extravagant palace has a mix of medieval and baroque elements. The main façade of the Palazzo Madama, adorned with sculptures, is stunning. Inside the building you will find the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica.
Take the elevator to the top of Palazzo Madama for a great view of Turin and the Mole Antonelliana.
The most famous building in Turin, the Mole Antonelliana, was built as a Jewish Synagogue in 1889. Today it hosts the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, dedicated to the history of the Italian cinema.
However its major attraction is the panoramic elevator that will take you to a platform at the top of the tower, where you can admire a 360° view of the city.
This is the world’s second-largest museum dedicated to ancient Egyptian archaeology and history. Established in 1833, the Museo Egizio contains many wonderful artefacts, including well-conserved mummies and sarcophagi.
Parco Del Valentino
Parco del Valentino is a massive green space located on the banks of the river Po. Within its 42 hectares you will find the UNESCO-listed Valentino Castle, a monumental fountain, a replica of a medieval village, and a botanical garden.
Turin hosts the largest outdoor market in Europe, located in Piazza della Repubblica. Occupying almost 50,000 square metres, the Mercato di Porta Palazzo sells everything your heart might desire, from food to vintage clothes.
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Turin has a rich culinary tradition. It is also where the Slow Food Movement in Italy began. Therefore stopping by the city’s many traditional pastry shops and restaurants (known as pioli) is a must.
The most typical appetizer is the beloved vitel tonné – veal cutlets in a sauce of tuna, anchovy, and capers. And for a main, you can either have pasta or a meat dish. Agnolotti, made with meat or vegetables, is the best stuffed pasta you can try. If you love meat, brasato al Barolo, made with the local Barolo red wine, will become your favourite dish.
Typical desserts of Turin are gianduiotti, chocolate bites made with gianduja, and bicerin, the local version of hot chocolate (with coffee). In Turin, bicerin is also an alcoholic liquor made with gianduja chocolate – when ordering make sure you say whether you want the dessert or the liquor!
Another traditional local drink is Vermouth, the alcohol used to make a Negroni cocktail. It is typically drunk as an aperitif.
It’s easy to get to Turin from many cities in the north and centre of Italy. Turin has two train stations – Porta Nuova and Porta Susa – that cover the routes to and from Milan, Genoa, Venice, Bologna, Florence, and Rome. A day trip from Milan by train takes from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on whether you opt for a high-speed train (operated by Trenitalia and Italo) or Trenitalia regional train.
You can also reach Turin by car. From Milan, you will need to drive for a little over two hours by taking the A4 toll road. However, you should be careful driving in the city as local drivers can be aggressive. Turin is perfectly walkable, so you don’t need a car to get around. The city also offers plenty of public transport, with local trams, metro, and frequent buses.
Marica Gatti was born and raised in Italy and currently lives in Rome. With a degree in Cultural Anthropology and a true passion for travelling, she works as a freelance travel writer as she loves writing about her experiences in Italy and beyond.