Top Things to Do in Turin – Part II: 15 Places + 1 you must see in Turin and the surroundings!
Ciao! are you still wondering what things to see in Turin? Even after my post, top 10 + 1 things to do in Turin? Here for you then are the top 15 + 1 things to do in Turin and its surroundings, to make an alternative tour.
Map of the Top 15 + 1 Things to Do in Turin and the Surroundings
1. Piazza Carlo Emanuele II (Charles Emmanuel II’s Square)
Aesthetically beautiful, the inhabitants of Turin like it very much because it is a small paradise downtown where one can pass the spring and summer evenings. The square, which was originally the centre of the Jewish ghetto, is surrounded by precious eighteenth-century buildings, including the Church of the Santa Croce and the Roero di Guarene Palace, designed by Filippo Juvarra. The Turinese call it Piazza Carlina, based on its old name that was Piazza Carolina up until the eighteenth century, when it became customary to use the name of the square as a possessive, in that case, Charles Emmanuel II’s square. The monument in the centre represents Count Camillo Benso of Cavour, (a founding father of Italy). The statue portrays the statesman as an allegory of Italy, semi-kneeling and being offered the civic crown.
2. Porta Palazzo (Palace Gate) and the Mercato Centrale Torino (Turin Central Market) – Piazza della Repubblica (Republic Square)
The largest outdoor market in Europe, located in a square bordered by refined buildings. Here you will find the very heart of Turin, the stories of the people of Turin, the meltin’ pot, and the brand new Mercato Centrale Torino (of which I wrote about here). A must-see, absolutely!
3. The Fetta di Polenta (The Slice of Polenta) – corner of Via Giulia di Barolo and Corso San Maurizio
It’s a very special 9-storey building (of which 7 are above ground): built on a very small triangular plot! The author of this extravagant work, dated 1840, was the great Alessandro Antonelli (yes, the same one who designed the most famous Mole !!!). The architect lived there for a few years with his wife, and then moved to the nearby Antonelli Palace. Officially called Casa Scaccabarozzi (Scaccabarozzi House), in honour of the wife of Antonelli, its yellow colour and slender and elevated profile compared to the rest of the building, are reminiscent of a slice of polenta, which is the name with which the inhabitants of Turin have always identified the palace.
4. The Luigi Einaudi Campus
Born from industrial reuse of the former Italgas plant (whose façade on Corso Regina Margherita has been preserved), the campus, inaugurated in 2012, is a fine example of contemporary architecture, considered one of the 10 most spectacular university buildings in the world (CNN). Designed by the London studio, Foster & Partners (author of the UAE pavilion for Expo 2015) and built with the most innovative criteria of environmental sustainability, energy savings, solar design and bioclimatic strategies, it hosts the departments of Political, Legal and Social-Economic Sciences. In the central court, there are the works of contemporary art: Fusion of the Bell by Luigi Mainolfi; Bull by Mario Ceroli; Movement from the Blue of the Sea by Claudio Rotta Loria; and in the atrium, Homo Tecnosapiens by Richi Ferrero (of whom I told you about here).
5. Piazza Solferino (Solferino Square)
If from Piazza Castello you walk down Via Pietro Micca, which is the only street in the city centre that is not orthogonal but oblique, you will arrive in this beautiful nineteenth-century square, introduced precisely by the Fountain “Angelica of the Four Seasons”, in the art deco style. Where via Pietro Micca and Via Cernaia meet, you will find the beautiful Palace of the General Insurance of Venice designed by Pietro Fenoglio in art nouveau style. On the square, instead, you will notice the neoclassical façade of the Alfieri Theater (1855). In the middle, a relaxing garden with trees that lead to the equestrian monument dedicated to Ferdinand, Duke of Genoa, with his horse collapsing to the ground wounded, and then a sundial, installed in 2013. In front of it, you will discover a huge bronze sculpture representing a woman’s head which expresses intellect and emotion. The palace behind it is Palazzo Ceriana, designed by the eclectic architect Carlo Ceppi for this family of bankers.
6. Piazza Statuto (Statute Square) – Porta Susa Station
If you go shopping in Via Garibaldi (the pedestrian street which starts from Piazza Castello) walking to the very end, you will arrive in this huge nineteenth-century square, defined on its sides by beautiful palaces, which show the elegance of the neoclassical style. At the centre of the square is the monument in honour of the designers of the Traforo del Fréjus (Fréjus Road Tunnel), a pyramid heap of large stones (removed from the site of the tunnel) surmounted by a statue representing the genius of Science that defeats the Titans. Crossing completely the square and turning south in Via San Martino, you will find yourself in front of the old Porta Susa station, a mid-nineteenth century building in eclectic style, today redeveloped and destined to become a hotel for young travellers … we can’t wait to see the result of the restructuring, meanwhile we amuse ourselves with the installation of the Punt e Mes of the Armando Testa studio, located right in front of the station. (I talked about it here)
7. Piazza Carlo Felice (Charles Felix Square) – Porta Nuova Station
If you travel by train, the city’s arrival station is Porta Nuova, the city’s first railway station, built in 1861 for the Genoa-Turin line. Inside the station, there is the fabulous “King’s Waiting Room” with the vault frescoed by Francesco Gonin, but unfortunately closed to the public. The station’s facade is grandiose and spectacular and stands as a backdrop against the background of the second part of Via Roma, visible from the C.L.N. square. The square that separates Via Roma from the entrance of the station is Piazza Carlo Felice, an elegant square with the Sambuy Garden at its centre, built in 1880 in the style of the city gardens, with a beautiful fountain, large flower beds and a lovely central gazebo.
8. Allianz Stadium – Juventus Stadium
Inaugurated in 2011, it was designed by the Juventus Football Club company and is the first modern stadium in Italy owned by a club. It was designed by architects Hernando Suarez and Gino Zavanella and by engineers Francesco Ossola and Massimo Majowiecki and has the particularity of not having an athletics track around the field, in order to allow the public to be very close to the playing field. The exterior design was curated by Fabrizio Giugiaro and expresses style and elegance: the only colours used are white and black, with some inserts in grey, in addition to the tricolour of the Italian flag that runs around the outside of the structure in a discreet band and the yellow of the three stars in the stadium’s seats. Aesthetically it is one of the most beautiful contemporary buildings in Turin, and for the fans, there is also a very rich museum inside.
9. The Nuvola Lavazza (Lavazza Cloud)
It’s the new business headquarters of the Lavazza company, which produces the world’s #1 coffee. It is a beautiful example of a contemporary building designed from an industrial reuse that you will find right next to the city centre of Turin. (which I wrote about here)
10. 25 Verde (Green) – via Chiabrera
In the San Salvario neighbourhood, precisely in via Chiabrera 25, right where you would not expect it, a forest appears! It is a housing unit complex designed by the architect Luciano Pia who proposed the idea of living in the greenery within the city. The complex is composed of 63 dwellings surrounded by plants, with irregular terraces, reflecting pools and roof gardens. The effect is truly exceptional, and it is worth getting away from the beaten paths of the city centre to see something absolutely unique and unmissable!
11. The Basilica of Superga and its Rack Tramway
If you are travelling with children, an absolutely unmissable experience is to try the historic train that goes from the Sassi station to the Basilica of Superga. The line was originally a cable car launched at the end of the 1800’s. In 1934 it was transformed into a tramway, and today, completely restored, it offers visitors a journey through time to reach the Basilica of Superga. The religious building was constructed between 1717 and 1731 to a design by Filippo Juvarra, to fulfil the vow made by Duke Vittorio Amedeo (Victor Amadeus) II during the French siege of 1706. The victory won at that battle earned the Savoy the title of King of Sicily (1713) and Superga became a place dear to the Savoy family, so much so that the royal tombs were placed here. For the supporters of the Torino Football Club, Superga is instead a place of remembrance of a tragedy. In 1949, the plane on which the championship-winning team of Grande Torino were travelling, crashed right at the foot of the Basilica leaving no survivors. As witnessed today, at the back of the church, there is the memorial to the Grande Torino where every year fans go to pay tribute.
12. Monte dei Cappuccini (Cappuccini Hill) and the Bar Restaurant “Al Monte dei Cappuccini”
If you want a taste of the Turin hills from where you can enjoy a spectacular view, cross the Vittorio Emanuele I bridge and continue past the Gran Madre Church, the church that was built in neoclassical style modelled on the Pantheon of Rome, to greet the Savoy family’s return after the Congress of Vienna (1815). The road will rise steeply. Follow the curves up to the final clearing making a balcony overlooking Turin: you will take the most beautiful photos of the city from here. Originally it was the settlement of the Capuchin monks up until the end of the 1500s and then the building of the Church of Santa Maria dei Cappuccini. The monks still manage the religious complex, but part of the convent is now destined to host the National Mountain Museum, an interesting collection and exhibition of everything related to exploration, climbing and mountaineering in the Alps from its origins to today. If you are here during lunch or dinner, we highly recommend the restaurant Al Monte dei Cappuccini, located in the same building that was the Capuchin convent, but with an entrance from the esplanade that precedes the last hairpin bend up to the church. This restaurant is a complete experience: the cuisine is traditional – the first courses and the wines are excellent – the service can be a bit uneven and it is recommended to book … however, eating outdoors on this terrace overlooking the city, with such a wonderful view, with the peace of the hill and the cool summer temperature is really not to be missed!
13. Villa Della Regina (the Queen’s Villa) and Via Monferrato Concept Street
Still in the hills, past the Gran Madre, if you go in the opposite direction to the Monte dei Cappuccini, you arrive at the Villa della Regina, a marvellous Savoy residence in the hills (which I talked about it here). And in this area of Turin don’t miss the walk in the trendiest street of Turin, Via Monferrato (which I wrote about here).
14. Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi (The Hunting Palace of Stupinigi)
Travel along Corso Unione Sovietica (Soviet Union Road) out of the city and continue straight ahead and at a certain point you will see before you this beautiful Savoy residence, that seems to embrace those arriving from Turin with open arms consisting of the side buildings that were used as the service areas of the court. Built in 1729 to a design by Filippo Juvarra, the building in the elegant Rococo style is a small treasure chest rich in works of art. To the south, the garden that was the site of royal walks and the nature park that was the hunting area of the nobility. Since 1926 it has been the seat of the Museum of Art and Furniture.
15. The Reggia of Venaria Reale (The Royal Palace of Venaria)
The seventeenth-eighteenth century palace that was the emblem of the Savoy power and the showcase of the Savoy family throughout Europe. A project of exhibition and entertainment that not only encompassed the hunting residence, but the whole town, up to including the attribution of its name, Venaria Reale, and its countryside to practice the art of hunting by the Savoy’s. A must to visit are the seventeenth-century Sala di Diana (Diana’s room), a Baroque explosion of stuccos, decorations, sculptures and paintings; and the eighteenth-century Galleria Grande (Great Gallery) by Filippo Juvarra, a grandiose, elegant and refined ballroom with a view of the Stag Fountain and its gardens. (I told you about it here). For those travelling with children, there is also a pleasant visit to the gardens by a little train.
16. The Ex-Giardino dei Ripari (Ex-Garden of the Shelters)
The “plus 1” on this list is also this time an area dedicated to nature in the heart of the city. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the defensive structures were dismantled throughout the city and the Giardino dei Ripari (Garden of Shelters) was created in this area, which has then since been reduced to give rise to three very beautiful adjacent green spaces. The piazzetta Maria Teresa (Maria Teresa little square) is located in the Borgo Nuovo zone, at the intersection of Via della Rocca and Via Giolitti. It is a delightful open space with a central flowerbed and benches, surrounded by trees and bordered all around by beautiful 19th century buildings. Continuing along Via Giolitti, you arrive at the Church of San Michele Arcangelo (Saint Michael the Archangel) and behind it opens the giardino Cavour (Cavour Garden), a large green space formed by hills, trees and curved paths, with a majestic Plane tree over 150 years old in the centre. Finally, on the other side of Via San Massimo there is the giardino Aiuola Balbo (Balbo flowerbed garden), with a spectacular central fountain, a small playground for children and lots of greenery.
If you have followed all my directions, you now know all the must-see places in Turin. But Turin is huge and very diverse and there are still many other corners and curiosities to discover. Follow me and I’ll tell you about them in my next posts.
Where to Stay – Hotels in Turin
Whenever we travel in Italy, we always try to stay at an NH Hotel. They are simply the best! The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed. The staff are always very friendly and helpful. And they have the most delicious breakfast! In Turin, we are fortunate to have several NH Hotels but there are definitely two centrally located that we can highly recommend: the NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlina and the NH Torino Santo Stefano. Both are beautiful hotels in the city centre, walking distance from all the main tourist attractions.
If you are looking for something a little more economical, we can also highly recommend the Le Petit Hotel, a sweet little hotel in the heart of Turin, just next to Piazza Solferino and walking distance to all the main attractions and museums.
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