The main urban centre of Piedmont and the first capital of Italy, Torino embodies all that is means to be “piemontese.” It was the city the Savoy family chose as their reigning seat and so forged in their name. Their influence can be felt in the sumptuous noble palaces and the sinuous design of Piedmont Baroque; in the symmetrical charm of the piazzas, bridges, and parks along the Po River; the mysterious remains of the Medieval and Roman rulers of the past; the metalwork and craftmanship on store fronts and city streets; and the wide portico boulevards that all lead to the centre of town. Torino is a city of a thousand faces that is pulling away its industrial mask from the 20th-century to reveal the noblesse and elegance that has long attracted kings.
The best places to get to know Torino are Piazza Castello and the Royal Museums, which house permanent and temporary exhibitions. The adjacent Duomo is a fine example of Renaissance architecture and also preserves and displays the Holy Shroud. From here you can admire the Porta Palatina, the grandiose Roman entrance to the city built by Julius Augusta Taurinorum. Pass through it to gain entrance to the Quadrilatero, a maze of narrow streets and Medieval buildings that are now home to shops, bars and restaurants, as well as the MAO (Museo d’Arte Orientale).
You cannot leave Turin without a visit to the Egyptian Museum, the most important in the world after the one in Cairo. Similarly, you must visit the Mole Antonelliana, home to the National Cinema Museum. Stroll through the Medieval village that surrounds the stunning Valentino Park then head to the Monte dei Cappuccini and the Superga, two important places of worship on the hills that overlook the city.
To get an idea of the city’s dynamism, get lost in the Porta Palazzo market and neighbourhood. Each Saturday, behind the market, you will find the Balon, a chaotic yet bewitching antiques market that spills onto the streets. Enjoy an aperitif in San Salvario, Turin’s nightlife and trendy centre.
To understand post-Industrial Turin, you must visit the Mauto, the National Automobile Museum, near Lingotto and headquarters of FIAT until 1982. Today, it stands as a vivid example of industrial archeology: the building has been repurposed into a multi-purpose space that houses shops, malls, exhibitions, and large-scale events such as Salone del Gusto and Salone del Libro.