Torino, Turin in English, is a city in north west Italy, with some 800,000 inhabitants, including me. Hills and mountains frame it and the many public parks make it a really green city. Considered the third economic pole of Italy after Milan and Rome, you can reach the city via plane, train or, of course by car. But is it worth a visit? And if so, how many days should you spend here? I think that the amount of time you spend in a place has always to do with your passions and interests, as well as the budget and how many days you have at your disposal. But let me give you 10 reasons to visit Torino, so that you can figure it out. (Spoiler alert: yes it is definitely worth it and well not less than 4 days).
1. A city with a 2000 year history
At the beginning it was a Celtic-Ligurian village, then a Roman military camp, a medieval town, a royal city and the first capital of Italy, passing through the industrial era and, after the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, a tourist destination.
It is therefore easy to understand why you can find one of the best well preserved Roman doors, but also Baroque palaces or Liberty buildings. From district to district, Turin is a city where you will be surprised wandering with your head up. A detail here, a decoration there will frame your memories and your Instagram photos.
2. Walk like an Egyptian
Confess, you have just sang while reading the title. Plunge yourself in the lost era of Pharaos and mummies: Turin hosts the biggest European Egyptian Museum, second in the world only to that of Cairo.
Brought here mainly from the diggings and researches of Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli, related to the amazing designer Elsa, inventor of the “shocking pink”, this Museums covers an entire building and gathers together statues, objects, jewels, food, an entire temple and real mummies. Here you need a good three hours for a visit, so plan your day accordingly.
3. The city of movies
The Italian Job, that also inspires the name of this blog, Heaven, Profondo Rosso, just to name a few, are all movies shot in Torino. The connection with movies is so strong that the city hosts the National Cinema Museum inside the building that is also its symbol. A vertical museum with the story of the cinema, set reproductions, memorabilia and a huge archive of posters and photos is one of the favorite place of children. My nephew obliges me to go there every time he is in town. And thanks to the many temporary exhibitions you never get tired of it.
4. A pole for contemporary art
Not only Torino boasts a hundred museums and many art galleries, here we dedicate an entire week every year to contemporary art. At the beginning of November, the city hosts artists, dealers and visitors for the renowned Art Fair Artissima. But at the same time, you will find other fairs such as The Others, Paratissima, Flat, Flashback as well as events and exhibitions in the many art galleries.
The Saturday of the Art week, you will find the so called “Notte bianca”, white night, with locations open all night long. At the same time, every year, the city inaugurates the Christmas light: installations conceived by artists that pinpoint the city with charm and mystery.
5. A sweet city…
Torino is the city of small pastries invented for the Royal family, who could taste those delicacies in a single bite. By entering a pasticceria, you will find a wide choice of pasticcini. Before cupcakes there were funghetti, a mushroom shaped sweet filled with chocolate, chantilly, a small cup of dough filled with whipped cream and topped with a dough “hat”, super mini Sacher torte, tiny chocolate or vanilla pudding, and so on…
The traditions has it that you bring a tray of small pastries every time you go to a family gathering. But I think this is the best treat for ourselves when we fill a bit blue, or happy, or you have to celebrate something or even if you do not. Just enter a pasticceria, ask for a little tray and make your choice.
6. …also for chocolate lovers
Torino is renowned for its chocolate tradition. Here the taste Gianduja, cocoa powder mixed with hazelnuts, was invented and then industrially exported worldwide by Ferrero under the name Nutella.
While wandering in the city centre you will find artisanal chocolate producers where you can taste all sorts of pralines, ice cream or hot chocolate. Bicerin is the name of a famous drink, a voluptuous glass with hot coffee, hot chocolate and cold milk cream. The original is in the city centre, in the small cafeteria that has the same name. But many are the versions you can find almost everywhere in Torino.
7. You can easily visit La Venaria Reale
Once a leisure and hunting lodge of the Royal Family, this impressive residence is now a Unesco World Heritage. Here you can find an impressive castle, stables, beautiful gardens and temporary exhibitions. The renowned Diana Gallery is breathtaking.
You can easily reach La Venaria Reale from Piazza Castello, where a shuttle will easily drive you there. I suggest you to plan a day there and eat in one of the many trattorias right outside the venue.
8. Not only traditional museums…
But also open air contemporary parks. From Parco Dora to Mau, you can explore districts with murals and graffiti that transform them into the perfect location for street art.
9. The city which invented the happy hour
The ritual of the aperitiv, a drink and few appetizers before going to dinner, was invented here. Together with the vermouth, a liquor used to drink alone, or to prepare simple cocktails. At midday or in the evening, you will notice that bars and cafeteria place trays with salty amuse bouche on their counters. You can enter, pay for a drink and eat appetizers. Some bars give you the possibility to fill your dish several times. We have invented the word apericena something between aperitiv (aperitivo) and supper (cena).
10. A city full of markets
Every district has its local market where people buy fresh vegetables and all sorts of goodies. In Piazza della Repubblica you can find Porta Palazzo, the biggest open air market of Europe. Get lost among stands and watch carefully your belongings. These places can be really crowded and not all the people are nice and friendly.
So, do you need more reasons?