Think of Turin and football and Fiat may come to mind. But the city has so much more to offer, including rich Baroque architecture, cultural spaces such as the Egyptian Museum, and mouthwatering chocolate. No wonder the region boasts 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Start off at the Egyptian Museum, one of the most significant outside of Egypt. Formed from the massive collection of the French Consul General in Egypt, you could spend hours here. Highlights include a reconstructed 14th century BC tomb of a pharaoh, 5000-year-old linen, and a statue of Tutankhamen.
For more modern history, head to the Cinema Museum (Museo Nazionale del Cinema). The museum tracks the development of film, including horses galloping filmed in 1878. If you’re travelling with children, the Cinema Museum is particularly great, with plenty of interactive exhibits to entertain. Don’t miss climbing the tower to the observation deck at the top, affording a striking view of the city and mountains.
Perhaps the most famous inhabitant of the city is the Shroud of Turin, housed in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. According to tradition, the Turin Shroud is the cloth in which Jesus was wrapped when taken from the cross, and his image is believed to mark the cloth. Unfortunately for anyone wanting to view the Shroud, it’s preserved in an aluminium casket behind bulletproof glass and only rarely taken out. To learn more about the history of the cloth, head to the Museo della Sindone.
Castle Square (Piazza Castello) is at the centre of the city. You can experience a crash course in Turin architecture simply by standing in the Piazza and slowly turning in a circle: the three arched walkways surrounding the square were all built in different periods.
At one end of the Piazza stands the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale), home of the royal family for 200 years between 1660 and 1861. Stepping inside, surrounded by lavish gilded furniture, chandeliers and silk-covered walls, you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported to Versailles. But it’s not all frippery: there’s also the Royal Armoury, one of the most significant collections of weapons and armour in Europe.
Another royal family home is Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi, a few kilometres outside the city. This was the Savoy family hunting lodge, but don’t expect anything rustic; it’s just as lavish as the Royal Palace. Everything is on a grand scale, including the surrounding gardens and forest, perfect for a picnic.
No guide to anywhere in Italy would be complete without mentioning the food and Turin is widely considered the Italian capital of chocolate. One speciality you shouldn’t miss is Bicerin, a drink made from coffee, chocolate and cream. Get a chocolatey pick-me-up from either Caffe Olsen or Guido Gobino, one of the city’s finest chocolatiers.
For savoury dishes, explore the neighbourhood of San Salvario, a hive of cafes and restaurants. You’ll find traditional cuisine, heavy on butter and truffles, and international restaurants.
RACQ Travel can help you plan your ultimate Italian adventure, from sightseeing to accommodation and guided tours. Visit RACQ Travel or contact one of our friendly travel consultants on 1300 096 166.
Image credits include: Andrew Smith.