The best of Turin
Updated: Jun 8, 2022
Our tour through the Italian Peninsula starts with Turin, the first capital of Italy. Elegant, regal, cultured, and refined are the adjectives that best describe this city: the charming center with old preserved buildings, sumptuous baroque-style residences, and sites owning a deep soul linked to art, music, cinema, and photography. It is also considered a magical talisman because it is full of esoteric symbolism: for example, did you know that you can find the devil's eyes? Did you know that a legend tells that the holy grail is kept in this city? Well, many great myths pass through Turin. Leader center for chocolate production, countless records for which the town is world-famous, and inestimable cultural heritage will be the protagonists of your experience. Let’s go parrots!
What not to miss?
Mole Antonelliana and the Museum of Cinema
This is one of the best symbols of Turin architecture. The Mole Antonelliana famous for its dome, designed by architect Antonelli, houses the Museum of Cinema which is the reference point for all film buffs, with Oscar-winning sets, exhibition areas, and several other attractions based on the history of cinema, from its birth to the present day. A good reason to go, even if you're not a cinema fan, is the presence of a panoramic lift that goes up to the top of the Mole. Here you can admire a breathtaking landscape!
Royal Palace and Madama Palace
There are surely the main stages of your visit. Queen Christina Maria ordered the building of the Royal Palace as a place for the courts in 1645 and today it has been added to the UNESCO World’s Heritage list. Visit the interior tapestries, furniture, porcelain, clocks, paintings, and you will be enraptured. Don’t forget to have a look at the royal gardens behind the palace. Concerning Madama Place, located at Castle Square, here you can admire ancient art from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. The interiors are fascinating and climbing the staircase known as the “Scalone” of Juvarra will make you feel like royalty as in an episode of the Bridgerton television series.
Reggia of Venaria
This is the Savoy residence located on the outskirts of the city. Imposing and sumptuous, was to be a base for Duke Charles Emmanuel II on his hunting trips. The place that makes it most fascinating is undoubtedly the Gallery of Diana: a long, ethereal corridor that almost resembles a large chessboard. Moreover, its windows allow light to flood into the gallery, creating a glittering environment.
San Carlo Square
This square is defined as the city's elegant royal square. Today it is the venue for numerous events, concerts, cultural events, and is the best-known square for the celebrations of football team victories. It is full of statues of famous figures from the Savoy family, bordered by twin baroque churches and several historic cafés such as Café San Carlo and Café Torino, places of intellectuals and nobles. This square is also famous for the superstitious ritual of the bull under the arcades of the square (standing over the genitals of the bull).
You might ask why is there an Egyptian museum in an Italian city? Well, you should know that it is a collection bought by King Charles Felix of Savoy in 1824 dedicated to Egyptian art and civilization such as groups of statues, mummies, papyri, and everything related to ancient Egypt. This museum represents the most important one in the world outside Egypt.
Other places to visit
Another jewel among the Savoy residences is undoubtedly the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi, an 18th-century complex with gardens and a Regional Nature Park. The Palazzina also displays furniture from other Savoy residences and even Napoleon's carriage, who visit the city on the occasion of the victory of Marengo over the Austrian army. Don’t forget the Basilica of Superga, which is located at the top of the hill and offers a wonderful view. And if the day is sunny, you will certainly have the majestic Alps as a backdrop!
What else to visit?
Other places to visit
Combining the Royal Museums into a single museum complex, the Royal Museums include the Royal Palace, the Royal Gardens, the Royal Library and Armoury, the Savoy Gallery, the Archaeological Museum, the Chiablese Rooms, and the Chapel of the Holy Shroud. An extraordinary itinerary of history and art discovering precious objects, royal armor, the court library, great masterpieces in terms of sculpture and painting, and the dynastic collection of the Dukes of Savoy, which includes not only the Egyptian collection we mentioned earlier but also archaeological finds from excavations carried out in the Piedmont region. Of course, the most important feature of the complex is the masterpiece of Baroque art, the Guarini Chapel where the Holy Shroud is kept.
MAUTO, Automobile Museum
Turin is considered an industrial city, certainly because of its historical past linked to the birth of the automobile industry. The affirmation of the FIAT model car with the Agnelli family is undoubtedly one of the most memorable moments along with the birth of the Automobile Club. The MAUTO museum collects the testimonies of a myth with an exhibition of classic cars and formula 1 racing cars. Above all, it tells the story of the conception of the car and its design as the small 500, become an icon of Italy and of the family known as 'Cinquino'. Moreover, if you want to delve into history, not far from the museum you can find the Fiat Historical Centre, which preserves the story of the Agnelli family's company and collects documents relating to the production process.
Vittorio Veneto Square
After St. Carlo square, this is certainly very frequented, considered one of the largest squares in Europe. Characterized by large arcades and lit by beautiful Empire-style Street lamps, it is a very lively place, especially at weekends.
Tips for you: admiring the square from the bridge over the river Po, especially at sunset with the lights on, is a sight not to be missed!
How to go there?
Since Turin is located in the north-western part of Italy and very well-connected with various cities in France and Switzerland as well as Italy itself, it is a very accessible destination – which means it shouldn’t be left out of your itinerary!
There are several options to get to Turin. Due to its central position in Europe and a lot of airlines offering non-stop flights, it is very easy to get there by plane. Usually, flights are fairly cheap throughout the whole year, except in July and August, when prices are rising sharply. The main international airport serving Turin is called “Sandro Pertini Airport” and is located in Caselle Torinese, approximately 16km (10 miles) north-northwest of downtown Turin.
Another easy way to reach Turin is to travel by road since Italy has an excellent network of efficient and modern access routes, designated by ‘A’. It is reachable from all over Europe
using these five motorways:
A32 Torino – Fréjus
A5 Torino – Monte Biano
A4 Torino Milano – Venezia
A6 Torino – Savona
A21 Torino – Piacenza
In addition, you can also get to Turin very easily by train, since it is well connected to national and international rail networks, with services to cities like Paris and Barcelona and many more. The city’s main railway station is called “Torino Porta Nuova” and is situated in the city center, which can be very convenient because it is also the station area for buses serving the city and surrounding areas.
What to eat?
How many expenses can you expect for your trip to Turin?
In general, the cost of staying in Turin is slightly lower than the average city in Italy.
You should plan to spend around 120€ per day on your vacation there. Regarding accommodation, the average price for one person is around 60€, whereas average hotels in the 1 to 3-star range are less expensive than vacation rentals. From an average 4-star-hotel, you should expect around 110€ a night, and for a 5-star-hotel around 150€. If you are a solo traveler and like to choose dorm rooms, there are lots of cheaper options for staying the night, starting at 30 euros.
When it comes to spending some quality downtime, you can expect a meal in an inexpensive restaurant to cost around 15€.
Even though the best way to explore a city is – of course – on foot, it’s definitely good to know that public transportation is rather affordable. A regular city ticket costs 1.70€ and grants you to use buses and trams for 100 minutes or to use one single subway ride, whereas a daily ticket of only 4€ grants you an unlimited number of journeys for one day and the multi-daily, ticket of 17.50€ for seven days.
Another tip for a multi-day trip is to take advantage of the “Torino + Piemonte Card”, which allows you to save both on attractions and transport.
When to travel there?
The best time to travel to Turin really just depends on your own preferences and expectations. If you are looking for really hot days and hot-weather activities, you’re good to go in the summer, from June to August, which are on average the warmest months. For those who want to escape the heat, we recommend going to Turin in spring or in September, which is very enjoyable month, even though there is a higher probability of rainy days. If you prefer cold seasons and you are looking for a cheap vacation, the best time to visit Turin would be in Winter, especially in January.
Besides all that, it could be very convenient to visit Turin during summer since most of the local people go on vacation, which means that so much fewer people will be in the city center. However, we advise you to skip the month of August since it is too hot to walk around the city.
What to eat?
Turin, like the rest of Italy, offers a fantastic variety of culinary options as well as a wide range of restaurants to dine at, where you can choose from traditional, classy, romantic, and contemporary atmospheres.
Turin's typical breakfast is the Bicerin, which in dialect means small glass. A drink based on chocolate, coffee, and cream that can be enjoyed in any historic bar in the city.
We recommend trying out our local favourite antipasti Tomini, which is the Italian cheese originating from Piedmont called Tomino, served grilled or baked and paired with vegetables on the side. Another classic starter you shouldn’t miss is the Vitello Tonnato, which is made out of white wine-marinated and tender-boiled veal in a creamy tuna sauce.
As Turin is the Italian capital of chocolate, it is a must to enjoy the great taste of the famous chocolate of the city, called Gianduiotto. This specialty is prismatic chocolate and known for its delicate flavor and creaminess of chocolate gianduja, celebrating the unique taste of the hazelnuts that come from the Piedmont region (the hills of Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato).
During your visit, do you get hungry? Then, we recommend a visit to the “Mercato Centrale di Torino” located in Porta Palazzo, where you can find all kinds of food made by artisans of food. And if it’s time for an appetizer, Victory Square and the “Quadrilatero” are the heart of what they called the Merenda Senoira (a snack and also dinner).
If you would like to know more about typical food in Turin as well as drinks, read our article about the traditional cuisine in Turin.
Salone del Libro event (May)
An international event that hosts many guests such as famous authors with the main theme for each edition. Celebrating book culture in all its forms (including e-books, audiobooks, and comics), the Salone is a true cultural festival with debates, conferences, and workshops.
Torino Fringe Festival (May)
Offers 10 days of theatre performances and performing arts in the central squares of the city center.
Salone del Gusto (September)
An international food and wine event designed to bring together producers and artisans through conferences, meetings, conviviality, and tastings according to a theme chosen for each edition.
Torino Film Festival (November-December)
Held annually, it’s an international festival based on cinema considered a place for meeting and discussion of cinematic trends.
Other interesting events are here presented: Torino Comics (April), Festival delle colline torinesi (June), Torino Fashion week (July), MITO Settembre
Musica (September), Reset Festival (September).
This was our short guide for Turin. Traveling through the royal city immersing ourselves in the history of the powers, culture, mysticism, and the charm of many centuries of beauty scattered in the magical city. Never stop exploring beautiful places and check our other articles. Follow our Instagram @thewalkingparrot to be alerted when new articles are coming out!