Among the mountains, impossible not to catch the Monviso's snow capped top shining in the sunlight, 3,481 metres of majesty reaching up towards the sky whilst hugging the horizon.
The Monviso, "Vesulus" for the ancient Romans, from the slopes of which the Po springs, is a symbol, a challenge and a source of inspiration. Quintino Sella reached its top on August 12, 1862 and it was following that climb that the statesman had the idea of founding CAI - Italian Alpine Club. The fascination of this rock pyramid travelled overseas, indeed the Hollywood producers of Paramount elected it as their "trade mark"!
To the right of Monviso other tops can be admired, perhaps they aren't as famous but they are certainly not secondary for natural richness: the Rocciamelone (3538 m) and - slightly further - the Musinè recognisable by the cross standing on its top. It is an ideal destination to enjoy a day of trekking without going too far.At the far right, those with an expert eye will certainly be able to spot the Gran Paradiso (4061 m) hosting the homonymous National Park, on the border with Valle d'Aosta.
Shifting your glance from the mountains to the sinuous shapes of the hills, you feel an invitation to abandon yourself to the relaxing greenery of the vegetation that has so strongly inspired writers and poets.
"The hills above were beautiful when returning, smoking the pipe, and although it was June, at that time of day they were still veiled with humidity, fresh breath from the roots" wrote Cesare Pavese about the hills surrounding Turin in one of his most fascinating novels: "Il diavolo sulle colline" (The devil on the hills).
Among the rolling hills, the elegance and imposing Basilica di Superga (foto), stands out. Definitely a masterpiece designed by the genius of baroque Filippo Juvarra. And also the Monte dei Cappuccini (foto) emerges, proud in its solitude. It is a favourite destination for those summer evenings in which one escapes the noise and the crowds by searching for a hermitic and bucolic place.
Walking around the old city centre quarters, and leaving behind the protection offered by the porticoes, looking upwards you are struck by the succession of historical buildings and palaces, engraved cornerstones, flower filled balconies and curious little windows on the attics, originally inhabited by rich families' servants.
Above all the Mole Antonelliana (foto), whose dome is decorated by a series of red light numbers that may seem a thermometer but, instead, are tied to a mathematical secret. Indeed, they are the creation of Turin's artist Mario Merz, inspired by the "Fibonacci series" and titled, not by chance, "Il volo dei numeri" (The flight of numbers). Naturally, they are part of the "Luci d'artista" (Artist lights) project that illuminates the city with its many odd creations.
From corso Francia - the longest boulevard in Europe! - looking towards its western end, quite hard to see, you can make out the hill on which Rivoli Castle stands. In this corner, where hills and mountains seem to join together, the sky at sunset contributes to the landscape's magic with pink and orange brush strokes, fading in the clouds' vapour. A perfect picture to elegantly close a day passed in the sun's company.
So night is born. The magic "sky of Turin" reveals new aspects and looking up you might find new perspectives. Best of all if you decide to look from the hill where the new and modern city planetarium is located (www.planetarioditorino.it). Here the planetarium and the observatory are placed side by side offering viewers, dreamers, scientists, a star light view that illuminates Turin in an unusual way.
The best terrace to admire the city in its
wholeness is at 715 metres above sea level,
on the Colle della Maddalena. It is the
highest among Turin's hills: the best way
to enjoy the full view is to sit on a bench
beneath the "Faro della Vittoria" (Victory
beacon). Having the entire city at one's
feet gives the impression of being able to
keep every single corner under control.
Observing them from here, the aristocratic buildings look majestic and elegant.Try this game: recognise the city's monuments by their shapes: from Palazzo Reale (foto) to the Valentino Castle (foto). Another breath taking panoramic spot, not recommended for those suffering from vertigo, can be reached bytaking the lift inside the Mole Antonelliana (foto): on the top terrace you can observe the entire city from its very heart.
Those university students susceptible to the legend by which the Mole is a place to avoid at all costs before graduation, content themselves with the top floors of the nearby Palazzo Nuovo (New Palace): the panorama from the fifth floor library is guaranteed!
And again the Monte dei Cappuccini, reachable on foot from piazza Vittorio, offers a magnificent view of the city and its hill parks: Parco di San Vito (strada San Vito 185), Parco Leopardi (corso Moncalieri 147), Parco Europa (Cavoretto)...
Also not to be missed is the view from the Basilica di Superga (foto), aligned with Turin's Palazzo Reale (foto) and Rivoli's Castle.
Never stop in front of doors, gates, signs
and shutters: go inside it is the only way
to fully taste the city that, within its imposing
buildings, hides fascinating secrets.
An example? In the central via Po, more
precisely inside the courtyard of the Turin
University palace, you can meet busy
students,annoyed by the length of queues
in the administrative offices, rather indifferent
to the architectural structure and
sober proportions of the building... that
probably only tourists really admire! And
along the same street, going past the
magnificent portal of the Counts Prunas-Tola Palace (via Po 39), from inside the
courtyard you can observe the Mole from
a special angle.
The most surprising discovery, however, lies behind via Po, in via Verdi: entering the Cavallerizza Reale you have the impression of being inside a country village. Observe each courtyard carefully because its details will remain impressed forever in your memory. The trick is always the same: every doorstep, a new wonder.
The noble palaces offer elegant courtyards, the more popular buildings fascinating running balconies. Still in via Po, you can find the historical Caffè Fiorio: given that prices are geared to the wealthy, with a bit of courage you can enter just for a cup of coffee.The same holds for the Caffè Baratti, inside the elegant Galleria Subalpina (Sub-alpine Gallery) (foto) connecting piazza Castello and piazza Carlo Alberto. Such a calm reigns there that - when walking through it - people spontaneously start to whisper.
Similarly, the San Federico Gallery, connecting piazza San Carlo and via Roma, offers the same peace and quiet, and the luxurious cafés and restaurants all seem impassable to the passage of time. Gallery Umberto I (foto) in Porta Palazzo has a more decadent attractiveness and is actually a bit frightening.
To enter the city further, it is possible to visit all that lies underneath: underground Turin extends at no less than fifteen metres below ground level and encompasses tunnels, anti air raid shelters, ice houses once used as refrigerators for the Porta Palazzo open air market and alchemy grottoes.
A parallel life revealing segments of the past that appears at times mysterious and disquieting.
Info on tours available from the city's tourist offices (tel. 011/535181).