Turin, a good idea for a spring city break. Served daily by the TGV, it is the largest Italian city closest to France, with which it shares a part of the history, through that of Savoy. Between the Alps and the Po plain, the river that crosses it, the current capital of Piedmont was briefly that of very young Italy from 1861 to 1865. Its town planning and architecture, very marked by the Baroque period and the 19th century, make it a a city apart in the north of this magnificent country. All kinds of shops abound in its streets, among others dedicated to tasty local gastronomy. Andiamo!
Turin, a capital city
Born in the 3rd century BC, then truly founded during the reign of Emperor Augustus, Turin has retained a checkerboard plan, typical of ancient Roman town planning, in its historic heart (the quadrilatero romano), as well as beyond. For a long time a modest village enclosed in ramparts, it developed when it became the capital of the States of Savoy in 1563 - of which Piedmont was part and which will then include Sicily and Sardinia - instead of Chambéry.
The natural wall formed by the Alps was a protection against the appetite of the French, but this did not prevent the latter from seizing Turin during the Revolution and the First Empire. Under the Second Empire, the same ones will come to favor the birth of Italy in 1861, the famous Risorgimento, of which several Turin sites maintain the memory.
It is the local monarch, Victor-Emmanuel, who will become the king of very young Italy, helped in this by his minister Cavour. Turin will be the capital between 1861 and 1865, before this role was played by Florence, then Rome.
Economically, Turin has been and remains a stronghold in Italy, thanks to the various agricultural activities in its immediate surroundings and to companies such as Fiat, Olivetti, Lavazza or Martini.
Stroll in Turin
Strengthened by its political status, Turin was, as it were, recast between the 17th and the 19th century, which gives its large center a fairly homogeneous appearance. Most of the buildings were built of brick and covered with stucco, hence the strong feeling of being in a strong and powerful city.
Turin can be discovered along squares, streets andarteries lined with arcades (they total 24 km!). There is a particular style Baroque specific, says Piedmontese, more sober than elsewhere.
It is impossible to name here all the interesting churches, palaces or museums (often located in the latter) of Turin. Note that this is at the heart of his downtown that are the most important sites to visit. Which is useful if you have limited time.
On Piazza Castello, you have the Senate which mixes pieces of a Roman door, a medieval castle and a baroque facade! There is also there San Lorenzo church and its cupola adorned with windows which, from the inside, draw intriguing faces (17th century), as well as the imposing Royal Palace (17e).
Behind it: the Cathedral and its campanile (15th), the only real manifestations of the city's Renaissance architecture. It is she who keeps the famous Shroud, shown episodically. After Roman ruins overlooking a park, rises the Porta Palatina (vestige of Roman and medieval ramparts) opening onto the quadrilatero romano.
A short distance away there is the majestic piazza San Carlo, in particular adorned with the twin churches of San Carlo and Santa Cristina (17th), the piazza Carignano and its exposed brick palace (17th century) where major events took place during the Risorgimento.
Here are also two of Turin's great cultural institutions, the Egyptian museum (Egyptian museum) and the National Cinema Museum. The latter is housed in the Môle Antonelliana (19th century), a surprising building that was first designed to become a synagogue. Its spire rises to 167 m. By a central elevator, one rises to the top of this monument which recalls the Thai temples ...
Where gastronomy has the right of citizenship
Shops abound in the center of Turin, and in particular those dedicated to eating well and drinking well (including regional wines, to be enjoyed at the tempo moderato, naturally).
Special mention to the gigantic market, not badly frequented by the French border, which is held on the Republic Square, where a part is reserved for local producers: fruits, vegetables, cheeses, hams ...
There are all kinds of restaurants here, from the trattoria to chic addresses. Bakers, pastry chefs, chocolate makers and artisan ice-cream makers are also doing everything to honor the city's reputation for gourmet food. cafes perpetuate an old tradition in sometimes sumptuous places (the San Carlo, for example, on the square of the same name).
Finally, Turin is the birthplace of the chain of luxury gourmet stores Eataly, which launched its first store near the former industrial site of Ingot, now rehabilitated and dedicated to culture and leisure. Since then, the brand has conquered Italy and many cities around the world. In 2018, she will open a new temple of good Italian food in Paris, in the Marais district.
In this city, we practice the art ofappetizer which consists of making customers pay for a drink in exchange for what, they can devour various small dishes at will. So do not be surprised to see masses of young people in front of certain addresses, particularly in the quadrilatero romano.
Around the center of Turin
On the other side of the Po, there are residential districts on the hillsides. In the vicinity: the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile «Avv. Giovanni Agnelli ", palaces, castles and fortresses, including the Rivoli castle (contemporary art museum) or the sumptuous Venaria Reale (the “Piedmontese Versailles”), natural parks, the Susa valley, the Alps…
In addition, the Riviera and Genoa, Milan, or Lake Maggiore are not very far. If ever the urge - understandably - takes you to extend your transalpine escapade ...
Read also our report Turin, the discreet charm of Italy
To prepare for your stay, consult our Italy online guide.
Turin Tourist Office
Italian National Tourist Office
How to get there ?
- Train. Three daily TGVs from France, towards Milan. Main stops on the line: Paris (departure), Lyon, Chambéry.
- Plane. Turin International Airport. Find your plane ticket
- Main major roads. Access from the Maurienne valley or the Chamonix valley and the Aosta Valley.
Good to know
- The city center is largely pedestrianized.
- Public transport: tram, bus, a metro line.
- Vélib 'type bicycle rental service.
Or sleep ?
Where to eat ?
- Porto di Savona. A good, typical Piedmontese trattoria with a popular atmosphere. On the vast Piazza Vittorio Veneto which overlooks the Po.
- M ** Bun. A slow fast food! Almost all the products come from around Turin, including wines, beers and the Mole Cola soda that makes you forget its Yankee competitor ... A la carte: burgers, tartars, soups, local specialties ... Low prices. Two addresses in Turin and one in Rivoli.
- Pepino. A Neapolitan glacier, installed in Turin in 1884, which claims the invention of the pinguino (our eskimo). It offers a large selection of gelati in various forms. Everything is delicious. Piazza Carignano.
- Il Circolo dei lettori. A funny place. On the first floor of the Palazzo Greneri della Rocca (17th-18th centuries) a literary circle is established. Various rooms are used for meetings with writers or appointments, or for quiet working sessions. A bar and a restaurant can be found in this small labyrinth with free access. Via Giambattista Bogino.
- Let's Cook School. Italian cooking classes for all ages and levels. In the end, we eat what we have prepared with the chef. Efficient and user-friendly. Via Vittorio Alfieri.
, 360 pages, € 29.90