Once an industrial city and way before the first capital of Italy, Torino surprises with its elegance, breathtaking architecture, historical imprint and definitely a strong cultural vibe. It is the capital of the Piedmont region, situated in the north-west part of the country. Must say that before my first visit I was a bit sceptical – I did not want to spend too much time in yet another big city. However, even if in the middle of a metropolitan city as Torino, you will love its parks and gardens, and then there is the river Po that brings a most romantic atmosphere at night and a fresh breeze during the day. Of course – then there are the stunning peaks of the Alps – where you sometimes find yourself gasping at. You will be overwhelmed a bit by Torino’s many art galleries, museums, churches, palaces and theatres. It is basically walking the streets and getting surprised by the multitude of architectural styles, from Baroque to Rococo and Art Nouveau. The fact is, Torino is quite the place for a photographer – since you feel you want to catch the mix of old and new, the elegant wide streets as well as the small and narrow ones with coffee places and lots and lots of character. Hence, I can only say that Torino has a bit of something for everyone, so let’s start exploring.
Palazzo Reale & Mole Antonelliana
So, situated in a central position in Torino, the Palazzo Reale is a symbol of power and overlooks the wide Piazza Castello. You simply cannot miss it – and the wide-open space gives a bit of a reminiscence of the city’s grandiosity. Talking about missing, you ought not to leave Torino before actually visiting the Mole Antonelliana towers, the icon of the city. Originally a Jewish Synagogue, the building is housing now the National Cinema Museum, and, in case you did not know, it is the highest museum in the world!
Of course, I don’t want to be too boring here however, I believe the Egyptian Museum to be a must-see as well, of course, given that you will completely allow an afternoon to be able to explore it in depth. It contains huge amounts of artefacts and displays and it is said to be the most important museum of Egyptology after the one in Cairo.
Following the museum, you would be surprised to know that Porta Palatina, one of the many ruins that stands still in Torino nowadays, is the most well-preserved Roman gateway in the world (from the 1st
century). Situated in a pleasant park, you would enjoy sitting on the grass and admiring its grandiosity.
Ancient Cafes of the City
Caffe San Carlo is probably one of the places where history was written. Founded in 1842, it was a patriotic meeting place during Risorgimento(1815- 1861), the period when Italy was fighting for its independence. Not surprisingly, later on, it kept its atmosphere among artists and literary figures. The coffee place also offers pizza, cakes, tea and coffee. Of course, needless to say, that there are plenty of historic cafés that have remained the favourite to these days among politicians, intellectuals and artists.
Get up early and head to Il Balon. I have to say that I have been impressed by this flea market due to the fact that it is more than just shopping for basically anything – cheap second-hand and vintage clothes, paintings, electronics, furniture, bikes, books or cameras. There are several bars and restaurant where you can grab something to eat or simply have a coffee, and if you didn’t get an ice cream yet – you must stop at Gelateria Popolare for it is one of the best places for ice-cream in the city!
Wine and Food
Of course, you ought to have a taste of its exquisite food and you ought to know that Piedmont wine is considered the best in Italy (Barolo Region). Regarding food, I really am in a bit of a crisis as I don't know where to start from! Italy is the country of food per se, and Piemonte is a region that has a very interesting mix with French food. I will, therefore, refrain at mentioning the best, most famous antipasto in Piedmont – the 'bagna cauda' – a mixture of anchovies, garlic and milk – served in a big pot with a flame underneath. It is eaten with grilled vegetables and good news – no utensils required! Allora, buon appetito! 🙂