Describing Turin is no easy task; the city is known for its cold weather, grey cityscape, and large industries. On the other hand, it is also an interesting and multifaceted city, rich in history. Formerly the capital of Italy, and linked to the Savoy tradition, it is a city of charm, brimming with historic monuments and bearing the entrepreneurial spirit of a city in continual economic growth. It is also a very ordered city, built to an urban plan with linear streets from the Roman period. Above all, Turin is an elegant city that does not flaunt its regal past, traces of which can be found in its artistic and historic heritage.
The physical, historic, and cultural centre is the symbol of the ancient capital of the Savoy kingdom. Turin would not be the same without its palaces, such as the
This is a mostly residential area which is popular with the Torinesi for its elegance. The famous
This area is mainly associated with
This area is densely populated and contains many shops, but the large number of crowded buildings darken the atmosphere. There are a number of wholesale shops in the area, such as Revedi, but tourists generally prefer to shop in the centre of town. For a more unique tour, make note that Turin is one of thirty three international official centres for witchcraft. Their focal point is either the astrological sundial on the right side of the Cathedral or the
The multi-ethnic area of Turin extends from
Piedmont is a real culinary wonderland for a number of reasons, many of them geographical: links with France through a shared dynasty heritage go back for centuries. In addition, the mild, sunny climate and an extraordinary rich soil produce some of the world's best vines in the hilly areas of Langhe and Monferrato (30/50 miles SE of Turin). Worldwide, top restaurants, exclusive retreats, and gourmet households have recognized the distinct flavor of Turin's Barolo wines. The white Alba truffle is gaining a strong reputation among culinary experts as well, even getting special coverage in magazines like "Forbes". In Italy everybody knows great red wines such as Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and the popular, strong Barbera, the farmers' everyday wine. As a result, all of the other products of Piedmont are experiencing cult status, even going so far as to make the aforementioned white truffle from Alba sell for about 10 dollars per gram—almost the same price as gold!
When exploring the Centre, there are a variety of different options to satisfy any palate. For a truly traditional experience, visit Del Cambio, which was established in the 18th century and still retains much of its original appeal. From the service to the décor, you will feel very much a part of history. If your tastes run towards more exotic fare, check out Arcadia, a combination sushi bar and Italian trattoria. For those on a budget, Porto di Savona, offers tasty dishes for a good price, with a selection of appetizers and pasta dishes that are especially good. For a taste of the Tuscan sun on a grey Turin day, stop by Al Gatto Nero and enjoy their delicious appetizers with special ingredients imported from Tuscany.
Also make sure to stop by Crocetta-Cenisia for their neighborhood Mercato della Crocetta. One of the best places to buy fresh food in the city, it is always bustling and you can find all sorts of delicious products from around the region. For a comfortable and intimate dining experience, stop by Osteria Antiche Sere and enjoy your meal in one of three cosy rooms or in their outdoor courtyard.
If you have a craving for something sweet, Turin can easily accommodate. Also in the city's Centre is Baratti & Milano, a confectionery, that was opened in 1873 and has remained a top choice for delicious and sophisticated treats. It is also a full service café, complete with cocktails and an excellent lunch menu. Not to be outdone, Peyrano-Pfatisch, stands in the Crocetta neighborhood and has gained a strong reputation as a decadent chocolate shop serving everything from cakes to candies.
Little is known about Turin before the Roman domination. It is probable that the Taurini, a people of Celtic or Ligurian origin, inhabited the area. The city was destroyed by Hannibal in 221 BC during his descent from the Alps towards Rome. Julius Caesar gave the inhabitants of Taurinum their Roman citizenship and changed the name of the city to Julia, though later it was renamed Augusta Taurinorum by Augustus. In coming centuries the city was plundered by the Lombards and became one of their thirty dukedoms. The task of protecting the transalpine routes and suppressing possible revolts by neighbouring peoples was taken over from the duke by the Count of the Carolingians. The area then passed into the hands of the Arduini who, under Berengario II, set up the realm of Italy. The most important Marquis was Olderico, whose death led to the succession of the Counts of Savoy. Nonetheless, Turin was not immediately handed over to the House of Savoy, and although the rulers had the title of Marquis, they had to share power with the bishop for a long time. After mixed fortunes, Amedeo III took control of the city, which then passed into the hands of Angioini and on to Guglielmo XII, Marquis of Monferrato, who then lost it to Tommaso III. From that point on, the House of Savoy ruled continuously until the sixteenth century. The city was then entrusted to the French king Francesco I, whose successor returned it to Emanuele Filiberto. The French were frequently involved in disputes over the successors and alternately backed the success of one pretender or other. From 1800 to 1814 Turin was the capital of the French department of the Po, and in 1815 the House of Savoy was restored. Ever since then the history of Turin has merged with the State of Savoy and, subsequently that of Italy.
In 1848 Piedmont was at the centre of the first Italian war of independence. The Piedmontesi defeated the Austrians at Pastrengo and then, thanks to the endurance of Tuscan volunteers at Curtatone and Montanara, they managed to overcome them at Goito. On the 30th October, Carlo Alberto was crowned King of Italy. However, the war rapidly turned against the Piedmontesi, who were forced to surrender to the Austrians and give up Tuscany. Vittorio Emanuele II was proclaimed King of Italy on the 18th February after the annexation of Lombardy, Tuscany, Emilia, Romagna, the Papal State, the international policies of Cavour, and the exploits of Garibaldi (who conquered the Kingdom of the Due Sicilie in February 1861). The capital was originally in Turin but was moved to Rome on the 27th March. The Albertine Statute celebrated fifty years in 1898.
Over time Turin became more and more industrialised and it was therefore heavily bombed during the Second World War by the Allies and later subjected to terrible destruction by the retreating Germans. In the 1950's Fiat played an essential role in the re-development of the city, and, after a period of recession in the 1980's, it gained importance in the 1990's as one of the most developed technological regions. Thanks to Turin's new image, the city hosted the winter Olympics in 2006.
Turin has a wide choice of hotels to meet every need and satisfy every pocket. The atmosphere in these hotels is warm and friendly, totally functional and wonderfully welcoming. Finding a place to stay in Turin is easy; all you need to do is decide what kind of visiting experience you want to have:
At number 8 Via Sacchi, next to Porta Nuova station, you'll find the luxurious four star il Turin Palace Hotel. A little further down the road is il Genova e Stazione with a decor both classic and sumptuous. L'Hotel Genio is situated across from the station in Piazza Carlo Felice, on the corner of the glamorous promenade Corso Vittorio Emanuele. You can drink in its pleasant atmosphere and elegant furnishings while making use of its convenient business services. The Starhotel Majestic (also on the same street), is very comfortable and earns the four stars allocated to it. Moving towards the centre of Piazza Carlo Felice you'll find the Roma e Rocca Cavour, a lovely hotel decorated with flair and good taste. Via Roma has a good selection of hotels for the weary traveller too, such as the Jolly Hotel Ligure which are very cosmopolitan and suitable for business travellers.
The city centre also has many accommodations to offer. If you head towards Piazza Castello, and stop in Via Carlo Alberto, you will see the Grand Hotel Sitea, richly decorated in splendour. At the top of Via San Francesco d'Assisi you'll find Le Petit Hotel, an ideal place for tourists and businessmen alike. A few doors down is L'Hotel Liberty, a which is housed in a charming period building that still retains much of its original design.
L'Hotel Diplomatic is in the direction of Porta Susa station, this is a luxurious hotel located at number 42 Via Cernaia, close to L'Hotel Dock Milano, which boasts all the modern comforts. There are several other accommodations close to the station: the City Hotel has very contemporary décor and furnishings. Near to the beautiful Parco del Valentino, the Valentino du Parc stands proudly in Via Giotto, it is small but elegant and cosy.
Do you prefer the hills and the green countryside? Then you could choose Hotel Villa Sassi, a place for repose which is submerged in greenery. The hotel also has an excellent restaurant, which is available for both guests and visitors. L'Hotel Crimea nestles at the foot of the hills with a view of the rest of the city.
If you are in Turin on business, you may want to stay at the newly built Hotel Meridien-Lingotto which is one of the most practical places to stay in the whole of Turin. For busy travellers the Jet Hotel is handily placed beside the airport. Thankfully, it isn't a modern monstrosity, as the hotel is located inside a renovated farmhouse that also houses the Antica Zecca restaurant.