Before attending a beautiful wedding in Avigliana, I spent 4 nights in Turin. I am a good tourist, and had made a “must do” list, but everything surpassed my expectations in this surprising city. Why isn’t Turin higher up on the list along with Siena and Milan? Why do we all think it’s an industrial city and nothing to see except factories? So untrue! Turin has experienced so much change in such a short time, and the factories have always been outside the magnificent city centre.
I had rented an apartment on the hills and could walk up to Monte dei Cappuccini for breathtaking mountain and city views. It is a charming residential quarter with cafes and supermarket, one feels “true Italy” here. Yet, within a few minutes one is across Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I, with its beautiful reflections on the River Po.
It was always a joy to walk up Via Po, see the impressive arcades, kiosk book shops and students cycling around! Turin is surprisingly walkable, a lot of pedestrian areas and easy to navigate.
A people-friendly city
One knows the Italian way to drink coffee, but it is nice to sit down, pay the extra, and watch the world go by a little.
For a breather, take a stroll in Parco del Valentino, with stunning plants, old trees, a few well-placed coffee kiosks, follow the river Po, and discover the decorative metal sculptures.
Another gem for art nouveau lovers is the beautiful Monumental Cemetery of Turin, with tomb sculptures that could be in an art gallery. Such grace and dignity of bygone days.
I was fortunate to have my car with me and visited the Royal Tombs at the Basilica di Superga. I bought an extra ticket to climb the dome, but it was pretty misty and one needed some imagination!
Who was Francesco Faà di Bruno ?
One of my favourite discoveries, which needs to be pre booked, was Museo Faà di Bruno www.museofaadibruno.it/
We were told the story of an incredible man full of compassion and curiosity after a military career, as we climbed the bell tower, visited the church, his home and collection of personal items including astronomy telescopes.
An inspirational story in today´s modern world. Another bonus is that the museum nunnery is in another residential quarter, where some houses have art nouveau and art deco facades.
Turin in definitely worth a visit
There is something for everyone in Turin: culture, nature and of course food. For food lovers, there are chocolate shops, manufacturers, gelati, gluten free bakeries with delicious snacks such as at Perino Vesco in the Via Cavour, with exquisite interiors and charming staff. Quite honestly, why not just indulge in the scrumptiousness!
Turin, a secret and seemingly undiscovered world, with an air of refinement now lost in the bigger tourist cities of Italy, yet modern. I´m almost hesitant to share my wonderful experience in case the same happens to Turin, so will quietly whisper on the website of my friend Elisa, who is a passionate “Ambassador of Torino” (the Italian name for Turin).
Go quickly. . . it is a truly splendid surprise!
Julie Barrett (originally from London, now based in Southern France)