Having overcome the first impact, Turin strikes the eye. There are things that cannot be missed, and that can be explored just with an overall glance. Therefore, it is a good idea to start from here on a discovery journey of the Piedmont capital.
Piazza San Carlo: Turin's living room, one of the most elegant and spacious squares in Italy. Initially called "piazza Reale" (Royal square), during the French occupation it became Place Napoléon. The longer sides have porticoes, on the northern side one can admire the Vittozziani palaces and on the southern side the twin churches of San Carlo and Santa Cristina (foto). At the centre the famous equestrian statue of Emanuele Filiberto, known as 'l caval 'd brons (foto) (the bronze horse), inaugurated on November 4 1838 and immediately chosen as city icon. Inside one of the arches of the Philharmonic Academy Palace there is still a cannon ball - used by the French during Turin's siege in 1706 - stuck in the wall.
Piazza Vittorio Veneto: initially named after king Vittorio Emanuele I, designed by Giuseppe Frizzi in 1825, the square was given its current name after the victorious battle of the First World War. But for Turin's residents it is simply piazza Vittorio, the continuation of the seventeenth century via Po going towards the hills. It is an ideal frame for one of the biggest and most fascinating squares in Europe. It is very near the Mole Antonelliana and also to the Gran Madre (Great Mother), dominating from the other side of the river
Piazza Castello: built by Ascanio Vittozzi on behalf of Carlo Emanuele I, on the basis of Savoy power premises. It is entirely lined with porticoes, the only exception being the short tract between the church of San Lorenzo and the Palazzo Reale (foto). The porticoes were once called "of the fair" because it was possible to sell goods there on certain days.
Via Garibaldi: the whole of Turin's history has passed along this rectilinear route - more than one kilometre long - that from piazza Castello leads to piazza Statuto. It was once called via Dora Grossa and is the longest pedestrian street in Europe.
Via Roma: formerly via Contrada Nuova, this long - and entirely lined by porticoes - rectilinear artery joins piazza Castello to Porta Nuova Railway Station. The redevelopment works began in 1926 and were completed in 1931. Today it is the most elegant place in town.
Via Pietro Micca: dates back to 1885 and was built on the mayor's orders to connect piazza Castello and piazza Solferino. Initially called the Diagonal because it was the first road within the city centre to interrupt the orthogonal plan. Its buildings are an example of the most exuberant liberty style.
Via Po: this area littered with small
dwellings inhabited by fishermen or lime
workers, was enlarged by will of Carlo
Emanuele II according to the project of
Amedeo di Castellamonte during the XVII
century. It was then so wide that three carriages
could travel along it at the same
time in both directions. Among the street's
most renowned palaces are the University
building in via Po 17, and the "Palazzo
degli Stemmi" (Coat of arms Palace)
in via Po 33.
Basilica di Superga: (foto) towering on the city's hill, the Basilica was built under king Vittorio Amedeo II to thank the Virgin Mary for victory over the French in 1706. Designed by Filippo Juvarra in 1717, it is asymmetrically aligned to Palazzo Reale in piazza Castello and to the Rivoli Castle. It is worth visiting its underground crypt where the tombs of many royal family members lie, from that of Vittorio Amedeo II to Carlo Alberto's. Just behind the Basilica - on May 4 1949 - the aeroplane carrying the Grande Torino football team returning from Lisbon crashed.There is an engraved memorial tablet dedicated to the champions and their companions who died in the accident.
Palazzo Madama: situated in piazza Castello, right in the centre of town, it is one of the most ancient and "chameleonic" buildings considering the many transformations it has undergone. In Roman times it was an entrance to the city, during the Middle ages it was a castle and elegant royal palace, at the beginning of the seventeenth century it was chosen as a royal residence. Women characterised its history: pioneer Bianca di Savoia celebrated her wedding to Galeazzo Visconti there in 1350; Maria, Emanuele Filiberto's daughter, lived within its walls up to her death in1580.Subsequently, the so-called "Madama Reale" (Royal Madam) Maria Cristina di Francia, Carlo Emanuele II's mother, made it into the power headquarters of the seventeenth century and decided to renovate and improve it. Filippo Juvarra rightly deserves being given the merit of having designed the luxurious baroque facade looking towards via Garibaldi.
Palazzo Reale: (foto) though situated in piazzetta Reale, it looks onto piazza Castello. It was the official Savoy residence, begun in the XVII century. Again the patron of its construction was the Madama Reale (Royal Madam) in 1645; it reached the current size and splendour under Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I at the end of the 1800s. Many great artists contributed to it: Vittozzi, Morello, Juvarra and Alfieri. The palace's architectural styles are three: baroque, rococo and neo-classical. It was abandoned by the royal family only in 1946 after the Referendum that decided Italy should become a republic. Nowadays it is possible to visit the lavishly decorated royal apartments.
Castello del Valentino: (foto) along the river bank, on the edge of the Park, stands this Castle, symbol of Savoy taste and power. Purchased by Emanuele Filiberto in 1564, it passed onto Carlo Emanuele I and later to Maria Cristina di Francia, who entrusted - between 1630 and 1660 - its complete renovation to architects Carlo and Amedeo di Castellamonte. Once the works were completed, the Royal Madam moved there with her court and the castle came to life.