Turin, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Savoy, is surprising for the elegance of its streets and noble palaces, for its long and varied food and wine tradition, and for the hospitality of its people. There are many attractions not to be missed during a weekend in the city and you will certainly love just walking through the streets of the historic center or in one of the green parks that develop along the banks of the river Po. But Turin also has a mysterious side, full of stories and legends, which makes it the perfect destination for fans of esotericism and magic.
Turin, the former capital of the Kingdom of Savoy and first capital of the Kingdom of Italy, retains ancient vestiges of nobility, elegance and austerity. The city has become a major tourist attraction in recent years: those visiting for the first time cannot help but be fascinated by the beauty of its historic squares, its noble buildings and the richness and variety of its food and wine scene. Its proximity to the Alpine regions, which frame the city’s skyline, its ancient confectionery tradition, the skill and creativity of its Maître Chocolatier and the proverbial wine culture of Region Piedmont make it a perfect destination for a weekend in “Dolce Vita” style. But what many people don’t know is that Turin also hides a mysterious side: the city is in fact at the center of numerous myths and legends of esoteric cults that you can discover through guided tours on the subject. Not to be missed is a visit to the Egyptian Museum, the oldest museum in the world (and the second largest and most valuable after the one in Cairo) dedicated entirely to the history and culture of the ancient people of the Nile. In short, a city not to be missed!
Arriving by car
Turin can be reached by car through the network of motorways that connect it to northern Italy and to the main European neighbouring countries. From Eastern Switzerland, it is advisable to drive through the Gotthard tunnel and head towards Milan and then continue to Turin on the A4. From western Switzerland, we recommend following the route to Aosta and then heading towards Turin via the E25. As always, to get around the city we recommend that you park your car and use the extensive public transport network. Here all the info on parking and public transport.
Arriving by train
Its geographical position allows Turin to be well connected, through an excellent network of fast trains, with all of northern Italy and with part of Europe through the Paris-Lyon line. From Switzerland, the main fast connections are to Milano Centrale, from where you will need to change trains and take a connection to Torino Porta Nuova Station, in the city center. It is advisable to always check the updated timetables and the different travel options through the SBB website or through the SBB app.
Arriving by plane
Given the geographical proximity, we do not recommend arriving in Turin by plane. Although the city has an international airport, there are no direct flights from Switzerland. If you decide to fly to Turin, you will have to leave from Zurich or Basel and stop in Munich or Frankfurt, depending on the airline you choose. From the airport, the city is easily accessible via the metropolitan railway system, several buses or a taxi service.
The air in Turin on lovely October evenings is brisk but never excessively cold. The whole city is lively and cheerful and the neighborhoods around the central station are bustling with people and public transport. We chose to arrive in the city on a Friday evening with the aim of experiencing a taste of the city’s nightlife. But the journey was more tiring than we expected, so we reluctantly decided to forgo the nightlife and, in order to satisfy our craving for excess, to put all our eggs in one basket for a hearty dinner. We have remained in the city for three nights, two of which spent near the Hotel Piemontese, of the group Best Western, and the last one, to spoil us a little bit, spent near the Collection Turin Piazza Carlina, of the group NH. So, two different hotels for a stay of only three nights. There are essentially two reasons for this unusual choice. To begin with, we wanted to take advantage of a good offer at the Hotel Piemontese, part of the Best Western group. It is a three-star hotel located in the area of the central station, a stone’s throw from the historic centre. The rooms are clean, but perhaps a little too basic. In general, despite visible efforts to keep the hotel in order, it would need a thorough renovation. Its location is in the heart of the San Salvario district, next to Torino Porta Nuova station and within walking distance of the historic city centre. It is therefore the perfect place for those who choose the train to get to the city and want to visit it on foot. But San Salvario is also a nightlife district and walking around its streets at night, especially the less frequented ones, requires some caution. However, it must be said that the neighborhood has a wide range of bars and restaurants where we ate very well.
Gourmet tip: try the Neapolitan pizza at Sarchiapone, Via Claudio Luigi Berthollet 17. It’s absolutely worth it!
After two nights in San Salvario, we chose to move further into the historic centre, to Piazza Carlina. The reason is easy to explain: we were in Turin to celebrate Ale’s birthday. We wanted to treat ourselves to a night of pampering in a hotel that is certainly more beautiful, central and elegant. In fact, it stands on a large square in the city centre and is the result of the impressive renovation of a historic building that has its roots in the 17th century. We stayed in an elegant and bright superior room and our stay was absolutely perfect. If you fancy some extra pampering, we recommend spending at least part of your stay here.
The heart of the city: Piazza Castello, the Royal Palace and the Royal Museums
A visit to Turin can only start from its ancient heart. Piazza Castello, with its more than 40,000 square meters, is certainly the most famous postcard of the city. The large rectangular square is the stage for elegant buildings and shopping galleries. It is overlooked by the architectural complex of Palazzo Madama, the Teatro Regio, the Royal Palace and the Royal Church of San Lorenzo, while its sides are enclosed by elegant arcades built in various historical periods. We didn’t miss the opportunity to take pictures, eat an ice cream and visit the Royal Palace complex. To get there, we definitely recommend passing through one of the old commercial galleries in the area, the most famous of which is probably the Galleria Subalpina. The Royal Museums of Turin complex covers an area of over 55,000 square meters and brings together in one place the Royal Palace, the Royal Armoury, the Savoy Gallery, the Museum of Antiquities, the Royal Gardens and the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, all attractions included in a single ticket. You will need at least two hours to visit all the exhibition areas, but our advice, if possible, is to set aside some time for a careful visit to the Cappella della Sacra Sindone (Chapel of the Holy Shroud), not only to admire its special features but also and above all to discover its troubled history and the impressive restoration work, so well documented. If you are wondering what the Holy Shroud is, it’s easy to say! It is an ancient linen sheet on which the image of a man, identified in the Christian tradition as Jesus, appears, showing signs of torture and ill-treatment. Believe it or not, the Shroud has always had great symbolic value in Turin, so much so that in the 17th century Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy commissioned the construction of a grandiose chapel specifically to house the precious relic. On the night between 11 and 12 April 1997, a huge fire broke out inside the Chapel of the Holy Shroud and seriously damaged it. Fortunately, the fire did not affect the shroud, which was kept in the city’s cathedral at the time. But to restore the chapel to its former glory, it took more than 20 years of costly restoration work. You can find all the information on the museums on this page and you can buy tickets here.
Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Vittorio Veneto
Turin is certainly known for its large squares. Besides the already mentioned Piazza Castello, Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Vittorio Veneto are certainly not to be missed. Piazza San Carlo is absolutely splendid! With its arcades, open-air bars and twin churches, this square is not only the perfect set for your photos, but also offers great shopping and relaxation opportunities. Piazza Vittorio Veneto is ideal for an aperitif. In the evening, the large square fills with people and life. From here you have a wonderful view of the river and the Church of the Gran Madre di Dio, which is at its best in the evening light. We also had our best dinner in Turin here. We’ll tell you about it later.
The National Museum of Cinema and the Mole Antonelliana
Its imposing silhouette rising from the snow-capped peaks of the Alps is the true symbol of Turin in the world. The Mole Antonelliana was built at the end of the 19th century, initially conceived as a synagogue and later purchased by the city to be used as an exhibition space. At 167.5 metres high, it was for some years the tallest masonry building in Europe. Today the Mole houses the National Museum of Cinema, which tells the history of cinema through an exhibition route up the dome. Find all the info here.
Museo Egizio (The Egyptian Museum)
The Museo Egizio (Egyptian museum) in Turin is undoubtedly the oldest museum in the world entirely dedicated to the civilization that arose on the banks of the Nile and the second, after the Cairo museum, for the breadth and variety of its exhibitions.
If you are passionate about antiquities and if you are interested in Egyptian history, you cannot miss the opportunity to visit it. We spent about three hours in this museum, but we would have liked to stay much longer! We chose to go on a guided tour to make sure we didn’t miss anything and that we received clear information from knowledgeable people about what we were going to see along the way. All in all, we think we made the right choice! Wandering through the many halls, you will be able to retrace over 4,000 years of Egyptian history through exhibits of all kinds: huge statues, papyruses, sarcophagi, bronzes, amulets, everyday objects and the inevitable mummies. Absolutely jaw-dropping is the grandiose Gallery of the Kings, which, immersed in a scenographic setting, leads the visitor among numerous statues of kings and mythological divinities of Egyptian culture, including Sphinxes! This is the museum’s official website.
Enogastronomy in Turin
Turin has a long and rich wine and food tradition. There are many world-famous Piedmontese wines that can be enjoyed here: who has never heard of Barolo or Barbera, to name but a few? But Turin is also famous for the use of traditional and refined ingredients such as hazelnuts, chocolate, truffles and Fassona beef in its traditional dishes. Here are some of the dishes that you absolutely must not miss if you visit the city!
Vitello Tonnato: usually served as a cold starter, this is a particular cut of Fassona meat marinated in wine, boiled and served in very thin slices. The slices are then placed on a plate and covered with a tasty sauce made of tuna, mayonnaise, capers and spices.
Agnolotti piemontesi: this is a stuffed pasta like many in Italy, but the peculiarity of agnolotti from Turin is that the filling is made exclusively of roast meat. Consistent with their peasant origin, in fact, agnolotti were prepared using leftovers from the previous days with the noble aim of not wasting food.
Bicerin: is a traditional drink made with coffee, chocolate and milk cream. The original recipe is not known, but the Bicerin can now be found everywhere in the city with small variations in the recipe and, therefore, in the taste. If you want to try what is said to be the original, you have to sit at the tables of the café “al Bicerin”. But to be honest, we have had some excellent ones elsewhere too.
Gianduiotto: technically it can’t be called a dish, but it is certainly Turin’s most famous delicacy! It is a gianduia-based chocolate with a characteristic trapezoidal shape, made by mixing cocoa and sugar with the famous round Piedmont hazelnut. You won’t be able to stop eating them! For a taste of Turin’s cuisine, the historic centre offers many options. We recommend two places that have fully satisfied us:
Ristorante Porto di Savona (P.za Vittorio Veneto, 2): it is a quaint, simple and unpretentious restaurant that has made Turin’s culinary tradition its flagship. We recommend you try the agnolotti with roast sauce, the vitello tonnato or the braised beef. They are a real taste experience! But beware: the restaurant is very popular in the city so book well in advance!!!
Guido Gobino chocolate shop: we visited the shop in Via Lagrange 1A, but there is another one in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 72. In both shops you will find the products of the master chocolatier Guido Gobino who, through the use of quality raw materials, manages to give his chocolate an authentic and unmistakable taste. In his shop, of course, you will also find the famous gianduiotti, in both traditional and innovative versions. You can also book tastings on the official website.
Few people know that Turin is known as the most mystical city in Italy. According to legend, it is one of the peaks of the Triangle of White Magic, together with Lyon and Prague, and at the same time one of the peaks of the Triangle of Black Magic, together with San Francisco and London. There are also numerous stories about magic in the city and the many mysteries surrounding it. Of course, these are mostly folk tales, but we found it really interesting to discover how these stories and legends have permeated the city over the centuries and how they can now be found both in the most remote corners of the suburbs and in the historic squares of the centre, exposed to the sunlight or cleverly hidden and invisible to most people. We chose to live the curious experience of discovering Turin’s dark side through a guided evening tour which, starting from Piazza Statuto and ending in Piazza Castello, took us through the city’s centuries-old esoteric tradition in about two and a half hours. Absolutely suggested! Here you can find all information about the tour and the booking process.
The Mole Antonelliana is not only an interesting historical building worth visiting, but from the top of its dome it is also a privileged viewpoint over the city and the surrounding Alps. At the time of our visit, unfortunately the panoramic lift to the top was closed for maintenance. But don’t miss the chance to see Turin from above and, if you do, please let us know by leaving a comment below!
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