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unesco world heritage site Turin unesco world heritage site
Most visitors come to Turin with business in mind (often at the Fiat and Pirelli factories in the sprawling industrial suburbs). Those who take the time to look around the historic center, though, will find an elegant and sophisticated city that has changed little since more gracious centuries, with some fine museum collections and the charm of a place that, for all its Francophile leanings, is quintessentially Italian and perhaps the most pleasant big city in northern Italy.

Getting there

By plane

Aeroporto Internazionale "Sandro Pertini"
strada San Maurizio, 12 - Caselle Torinese (TO)
Tel: +39 0115676.361 / +39 0115676.362
Fax: +39 01156765.420
daily 06:00 - 24:00
14km north of Turin.

Buses run between the airport and the city’s main bus terminal (Autostazione Terminal Bus) on Corso Inghilterra and Porto Nuova train station (Stazione Porta Nuova); the trip takes about 30 minutes.
A taxi from the airport takes about 30 minutes and costs around 35€.

By bus

Turin’s main bus terminal is Autostazione Terminal Bus, Corso Inghilterra 3 (near Stazione di Porta Sousa). The ticket office is open daily from 7am to noon and 3 to 7pm.
Buses connect Turin and Courmayeur (4 hr.), Aosta (3 hr.), Milan (2 hr.), Chamonix (31⁄2 hr.), and many smaller towns in Piedmont.

 
By train

Turin’s main train station is Stazione di Porta Nuova, just south of the center on Piazza Carlo Felice, which marks the intersection of Turin’s two major thoroughfares, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Roma. From this station, there are two dozen trains a day to and from Milan—the trip takes 13⁄4 hours each way (many trains to and from Milan also stop at Turin’s other station, Stazione di Porta Susa); 16 trains a day to and from Venice, 41⁄2 to 5 hours; 17 trains a day to and from Genoa, 2 hours; 20 trains a day to and from Rome, 6 to 7 hours. Stazione di Porta Susa, west of the center on Piazza XVIII Dicembre, connects Turin with many outlying Piedmont towns; it is also the terminus for TGV service to and from Paris, with three trains a day making the trip in about 6 hours
Porta Nuova - corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 53
Porta Susa - piazza XXVII Dicembre, 8
Lingotto - via Pannunzio, 1
Stazione Dora - Piazza Gen. Baldissera

 

Main monuments

Mole Antonelliana
Mole Antonelliana Turin Piedmont tourism

Turin’s most peculiar building—in fact, one of the strangest structures anywhere—is comprised of a squat brick base, a steep conelike roof, which supports several layers of Greek temples piled one atop the other, topped in turn by a needlelike spire, all of it rising 166m above the rooftops of the city center (a height that at one time made the Mole the world’s tallest building). Begun in 1863 and designed as a synagogue, the Mole is now a monument to Italian unification and architectural hubris and home to Italy’s National Film Museum.
Even if you skip the museum, you can still ascend to an observation platform at the top, an experience that affords two advantages—the view of Turin and the surrounding countryside, backed by the Alps, is stunning—and, echoing Guy de Maupassant’s famous comment on the Eiffel Tower, it’s the only place in Turin where you won’t have to look at the damned thing.

Piazza Castello
Piazza Castello Turin Piedmont tourism

Piazza Castello is right in the centre of Turin and the point where Via Po, Via Roma and Via Garibaldi converge. Comissioned by Carlo Emmanuele I and first designed by Ascanio Vitozzi in the 16th century, Piazza Castello was the power base of the Dukes of Savoy and today consists of a broad square in which pedestrians, cars, buses and trams all vie for priority.
Piazza Castello Turin Piedmont tourismIn the centre of the piazza is Palazzo Madama, a fusion of a Roman gate, mediaeval castle and baroque facade, while the square is surrounded by buildings such as the Palazzo Reale, the Armeria Reale, the Teatro Regio and the Royal Library.
The latter contains works by da Vinci, while the nearby Piazzetta Mollino houses the State Archives. Also close by is the Church of San Lorenzo. The arcades surrounding the square offer good shelter from the sun in the summer, behind which you can find a variety of shops and cafés and in the winter the square is equipped with an ice rink.

unesco world heritage site Royal palace
Royal palace Turin Piedmont tourism

The residence of the House of Savoy, begun in 1645 and designed by the Francophile count of Castellamonte, reflects the ornately baroque tastes of European ruling families of the time—a fact that will not be lost on you as you pass from one opulently decorated, heavily gilded room to the next. (The Savoys had a keener eye for paintings than for decor, and most of the canvases they collected are in the nearby Galleria Sabauda). What are most notable here are some of the tapestries, including the Gobelins depicting the life of Don Quixote, in the Sala delle Virtu (Hall of Virtues), and the collection of Chinese and Japanese vases in the Sala dell’Alcova.
One of the quirkier architectural innovations, an antidote to several monumental staircases, is a manually driven elevator from the 18th century.
One wing houses the Armeria Reale, one of the most important arms and armor collections in Europe, especially of weapons from the 16th and 17th centuries. Most rooms were reopened after extensive renovations in October 2003.
The balance of the exhibition rooms should reopen in 2004. Behind the palace, and offering a refreshing change from its frippery, are the Giardini Reali (Royal Gardens), laid out by Le Nôtre, more famous for Paris’s Tuileries park and the gardens at Versailles.
Piazza Castello - phone: 011 4361455

S. Lorenzo
S. Lorenzo Turin Piedmont tourism

The ancient little church of Santa Maria del Presepio was restored in 1563 and dedicated to San Lorenzo by Duke Emanuele Filiberto to fulfil a vow made during the Battle of San Quintino on 10 August 1557.
The plans for the present church, built on the pre-existing structure, were entrusted in 1666 to Guarino Guarini who created one of his most significant works. In particular, the interior architecture and the dome constituted a turning point in the Baroque of Turin, while the main altar, an innovative masterpiece, is one of the most important in northern Italy. The façade designed by Guarini was never executed, but instead the church has the front of a public building.

Consolata
Consolata Turin Piedmont tourism

The Sanctuary of the Consolata is extremely dear to the people of Turin, who for hundreds of years have thanked the Virgin Mary for grace and miracles: a picturesque ex voto gallery makes it possible to take in proof of faith and everyday life through the centuries in one stroke. More than a million people came to Turin in 2000 for the Ostension of the Shroud, the longest in recent history, with all of 72 days for the veneration of the most important relic of Christianity.

unesco world heritage site Castello del Valentino
castello del Valentino Turin Piedmont tourism

A lush sweep of greenery along the Po south of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, provides a wonderful retreat from Turin’s well-mannered streets and piazzas. It is open daily from 8am to 8pm. Aside from riverfront promenades and extensive lawns and gardens, inside the park there’s a collection of enchanting buildings. The Borgo Medioevale (tel. 011-443-1701), built for Turin’s 1884 world exposition, is a faithful reconstruction of a medieval village based on those in rural Piedmont and the Valle d’Aosta, with shops, taverns, houses, churches, and even a castle—but since Italy is home to literally thousands of bona-fide medieval villages, it’s hard to imagine a good reason to pony up 3€ admission for a look.
Free guided tours are offered Sun between 11am and 4pm. In winter it’s open daily from 9am to 7pm. It’s open until 8pm in summer.
The nearby Castello del Valentino is the real thing—a royal residence, begun in the 16th century but completed in the 17th century for Turin’s beloved Marie Christine (“Madama Reale,” wife of Savoy king Vittorio Amedeo) as a summer residence. It’s a sign of Madama’s Francophile leanings that, with its sloping roofs and forecourt, the castle resembles a French château. Used as a school of veterinary medicine, a military barracks, and currently as a university facility, the castello is continually undergoing renovations and much of it, including many frescoed salons, is open to the public only on special occasions.

 
unesco world heritage site Palazzo Madama
Palazzo Madama Turin Piedmont tourism

Don’t be misled by the baroque facade, added by architect Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century. If you walk around the exterior of the palazzo (named for its most popular resident, Madama Reale, aka Marie Christine of France), you’ll discover that the massive structure incorporates a medieval castle, a Roman gate, and several Renaissance additions. Juvarra also added a monumental marble staircase to the interior, most of which is given over to the farreaching collections of the Museo Civico di Arte Antica. The holdings focus on the medieval and Renaissance periods, shown off against the castle’s unaltered, stony medieval interior. One of Italy’s largest collections of ceramics is here, as well as some stunning canvases, including Anotello da Messina’s Portrait of a Man.

Cathedral
Cathedral Turin Piedmont tourism

The controversial Shroud of Turin (Santissima Sindone) and the chapel in which it is sometimes enshrined, Capella della Santa Sindone, hold pride of place in this otherwise uninteresting, pompous 15th-century church. Even without the presence of one of Christianity’s most precious relics (and it’s only rarely on view in the silver casket elevated on an altar in the center of the room), the chapel is well worth a visit.
Recently restored after a 1997 fire (one of many the shroud has miraculously survived, with an occasional singeing, over the centuries), the chapel is somberly clad in black marble. But, as if to suggest that better things await us in the heavens, it ascends to an airy, light-flooded six-tiered dome, one of the masterpieces of Italian baroque architecture.
The shroud, of course, is allegedly the one in which the body of Christ was wrapped when taken from the cross—and to which his image was miraculously affixed. The image is of a man 5 feet 7 inches tall, with bloodstains consistent with a crown of thorns, a cut in the ribcage, cuts in the wrists and ankles, and scourge marks on the back from flagellation. Recent carbon dating suggests that the shroud was manufactured sometime around the 13th or 14th centuries, but the mystery remains, at least in part, because no one can explain how the haunting image appeared on the cloth. Also, additional radio carbon dating has suggested that, since the shroud has been exposed to fire (thus affecting carbon readings), it could indeed date from around the time of the death of Christ. Regardless of scientific skepticism, the shroud continues to entice hordes of the faithful.
The shroud is usually tucked away out of sight at Museo della Sindone (Holy Shroud Museum) around the corner at Via San Domenico 28
tel 011- 436-5832
open daily from 9am to noon and 3 to 7pm;
admission is 5.15€ for adults and 4.15€ for those under 14 and over 65.
The shroud was last on view during Italy’s Jubilee celebrations in 2000.
Technically, it shouldn’t be on display again until the next Jubilee, in 25 years,but it tends to pop up every 5 to 15 years for special occasions (and rumor has it that it may go on permanent display, either in the cathedral or in its own space; plus, the faithful flock here even if they can’t see it, just to be near it).
Otherwise, you’ll have to content yourself with a series of dramatically backlit photos of the relic near the entrance to the Capella della Santa Sindone. The museum houses a plethora of information (including photos, X-rays, and history) relating to the shroud.

Porta Palatina
Porta Palatina Turin Piedmont tourism

In front of the cathedral stand two landmarks of Roman Turin—the remains of a theater and the Porta Palatina, a Roman-era city gate, flanked by twin 16- sided towers.
Piazza San Giovanni
Phone 011-436-1540
Free admission
daily 7am–12:30pm and 3–7pm.

Piazza san Carlo
Piazza san Carlo Turin Piedmont tourism

Turin’s most beautiful square, is the city’s outdoor living room, surrounded by arcaded sidewalks that house the terraces of the cafes for which Turin is famous. In the center is an equestrian statue of Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, and facing each other at the northern end of the piazza are a pair of 17th-century churches, San Carlo and Santa Cristina. The overall effect is one of elegant harmony.

S. Carlo
S. Carlo Turin Piedmont tourism

The building of the church began in 1619. The façade was built in 1834 and is the work of Ferdinando Caronesi, whose plans were inspired by the designs of Filippo Juvarra for the nearby church of Santa Cristina. Inside the church on each side of the main altar are paintings of San Carlo attributed to Giovanni Paolo Recchi. There is a statue of the Madonna della Pace by Tommaso Carlone in the small chapel which was built by Carlo Busso and Giovanni Battista Casella to the design of Amadeo di Castellamonte.

S. Cristina
S. Cristina Turin Piedmont tourism

The church was built at the behest of Maria Cristina of France in 1639 to plans by Carlo di Castellamonte and completed by his son Amedeo. The façade, designed by Filippo Juvarra and built between 1715 and 1718, has a double order with statues of saints and allegories of the virtues by Antonio Tantardini. The interior has noteworthy stucco work and the main altar in white marble is by Ferdinando Bonsignore.

Basilica di Superga
Basilica di Superga Turin Piedmont tourism

As thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for Turin’s deliverance from the French siege of 1706, Vittorio Amedeo II commissioned Juvarra, the Sicilian architect who did his greatest work in Turin, to build this baroque basilica on a hill high above the city. The exterior, with a beautiful neoclassic porch and lofty drum dome, is far more interesting than the gloomy interior, a vast circular chamber beneath the dome with six side chapels. The church more or less serves as a pantheon for the House of Savoy, whose tombs are scattered about, many in the so-called Crypt of Kings beneath the main chapel.
There’s a fine view of the Alps from the terrace in front. The trip up to the basilica on a narrow railway through verdant parkland is a favorite Torinese outing.

 

Museums

Egyptian museum

Turin’s magnificent Egyptian collection is one of the world’s largest. This was in fact the world’s first Egyptian museum, thanks to the fact that the Savoys ardently amassed artifacts through most of their reign, and the museum continued to mount collecting expeditions throughout the early 20th century. Of the 30,000 pieces on display, some of the more captivating exhibits are in the first rooms you enter on the ground floor. These include the Rock Temple of Ellessiya, from the 15th century B.C., which the Egyptian government presented to the museum in gratitude for Italian efforts to save monuments threatened by the Aswan Dam.
The two statuary rooms nearby are staggering in the size and drama of the objects they house, most notably two sphinxes and a massive, richly painted statue of Ramses II. Smaller objects—mummies, funerary objects, and a papyrus Book of the Dead—fill the galleries on the next floor; the most enchanting exhibit here is the everyday paraphernalia, including eating utensils and shriveled foodstuffs, from the tomb of the 14th-century B.C. architect Khaie and his wife.
The Savoys other treasure trove, a magnificent collection of European paintings, fills the salons of the Galleria Sabauda above the Egyptian collection. The Savoys’ royal taste ran heavily to painters of the Flemish and Dutch schools, and the works by Van Dyck, Van Eyck, Rembrandt, and Van der Weyden, among others, comprise one of Italy’s largest collections of northern European paintings.
In fact, two of Europe’s most prized Flemish masterpieces are here, Jan Van Eyck’s Stigmata of St. Francis and Hans Memling’s Passion of Christ. Italian artists, including those from Piedmont, are also well represented; one of the first canvases you see upon entering the galleries is the work of a Tuscan, Fra’Angelico’s sublime Virgin and Child.
Via Accademia delle Scienze 6
phone 011 / 5617776 - fax 011 / 5623157

Turin tourist board visit Turin Piedmont www.museoegizio.org

 
Galleria d'arte moderna

Turin’s modern-art museum is one of the most important in Italy. It was founded in 1863, so its collections actually start with late-18th- and 19th-century neoclassical and Romantic works by Piemontese and other artists (Canova, Massimo d’Azeglio, Francesco Hayez)—in fact, the modern building itself makes a sharp point about our notions about art and its relevance with a glowing sign on the roof: “All art has been contemporary.” The collections are largely arranged chronologically, with rooms focusing on specific movements or periods. Of the over 600 works on display, you’ll see art by Modigliani, Giorgio de Chirico, Gino Severini, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, and Andy Warhol.
Via Magenta 31
phone 011 / 5629911 - fax 011 / 4429550

Turin tourist board visit Turin Piedmont www.gamtorino.it

National film museum

The museum’s first section tracks the development of moving pictures from shadow puppets to kinescopes. The rest is more of a tribute to film than a true museum, offering clips and stills to illustrate some of the major aspects of movie production, from Empire Strikes Back storyboards to the creepy steady-cam work in The Shining. Of memorabilia, masks from the original Planet of the Apes, Satyricon, and Star Wars hang together near Lawrence of Arabia’s robe, Chaplin’s bowler, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’s dress. Curiously, most of the clips (all in Italian-dubbed versions), as well as posters and other memorabilia, are heavily weighted toward American movies, with exceptions mainly for the major players of European/International cinema like Fellini, Bertolucci, Truffaut, and Wim Wenders.
Mole Antonelliana - Via Montebello, 20
Info: 011.812.56.58

Turin tourist board visit Turin Piedmont www.museonazionaledelcinema.org