Are you going to pay a visit to Turin? Do you want to learn everything about the Piedmontese capital? Discover the 12 must-do things to do in Turin!
Turin is the capital of the Piedmont area and has become the capital of the Savoy states, but also the first capital of Italy. The city has a distinctive cultural and architectural richness, mixing Savoyard, French and Italian styles.
This guides you to find the 12 must-do things to do in Turin!
1- The Mole Antonelliana
This is the location that all tourists want to go to in Turin. The Mole Antonelliana, at 167 meters high, is the highest monument in town and among the maximum masonry monuments in Europe. At the peak of the tower, a balcony provides us a magnificent panorama of the town of Turin.
The building was originally meant to house a synagogue. However, the project eventually fell through. In 1877, the town of Turin purchased the place and decided to house the Risorgimento Museum. However, the museum moved again to the Carignan Museum in 1938. In 1990, after undergoing renovation, the Mole became the new home of the National Film Museum. The museum retraces several phases of Italian and international cinema. Additionally, part of this museum is devoted to hosting temporary exhibitions.
If you don’t want to create both visits, it’s fairly possible to perform just one of the two actions.
2- The Palazzo Reale
Credit: Palazzo Reale
Situated in Piazza Castello, Palazzo Reale is among the most gorgeous places to go to in Turin. The palace has been the principal residence of the Savoy royal family since Turin became the capital of the Savoy States in 1563 (in Piazza Chambery). Its history and architectural beauty let it be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
While you are able to discover the main rooms during the year, other rooms available just for a particular time period. So don’t forget to request information so as to benefit from this exceptional opening of certain rooms. The gardens are also essential. Located behind the construction, the royal gardens are in fact composed of many gardens, including the sumptuous” Jardin des Arts”, magnified by the Nereides and Tritons fountain, designed by André Le Nôtre.
Superior plan: each first Sunday of the month, entry to the national museums (of which Palazzo Reale is one) is completely free.
3- The historic center
Credit: Historic Center
It’s not only the Palazzo Reale that is well worth a visit. Really, the entire historic district is well worth discovering. Going to the centro storico is an excellent first step when you need to see Turin. The district comprises the Mole and the Palazzo Reale. But that is not all. In Piazza Castello alone, you can admire the Palazzo Madama, comprising a medieval and a baroque part.
Then head down Via Po’ to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, a giant square where you are able to drink a coffee, a bicerin or have lunch. The region is also great for the aperitivo cena (literally aperitif-meal), typical of Turin. Finally, if you wish to go shopping, go through via Roma, the town’s shopping street.
There are other monuments to go to in the historic center. But be patient, we’ll find them in depth a bit further down!
4- The Parco del Valentino and the Borgo Medievale
Credit: Parco del Valentino
If you come to see Turin, this is the city’s calm location. The Parco del Valentino is the most famous park in town. Stretching in length more than 50 hectares, the park runs along the Po river, which is observed on a seat. A real place to call home, many tourists and locals come to relax on the lawns or near a pond. Others also go there to operate or to respect the Fountain of the Twelve Months.
However, we recommend walking to go to the Borgo Medievale. Located in the park, this village is a historical reconstruction motivated by different Piedmontese and Valle d’Aosta castles. It includes in particular the Rocca, a normal fortification of medieval Italy.
In the end, the park is also home to the Castello del Valentino, another royal residence of the Savoy family. Its structure will remind you of a few French castles. The palace now belongs to the Polytechnic University of Turin, which has installed its architectural unit.
5- The Church of Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappuccini
Credit: Church of Santa Maria
Let’s take a little bit of height and head across the Po to find Monte dei Capuccini. Monte dei Capuccini is a mountain overlooking Turin and the Po. If an entire district was built on the mountain, it owes its reputation to a single monument specifically: the Church of Santa Maria and its convent.
Consecrated in 1656, this late Renaissance building is adjacent to a monastery employed by the Capuchin brotherhood (frati Cappuccini in Italian). The geographical position of this place of worship consequently made it a real natural tactical point. Legend has it that during the French siege of this city, the Capuchins would have the local resistance fighters. But on entering the church, fire from the tabernacle could have struck down the military.
While going to the place, you’ll also have a superb view of the Piedmontese capital.
6- The Automobile Museum
Credit: Automobile Museum
If you don’t understand it yet, Turin is also the capital of the car! In actuality, this is the place where the historic headquarters of the famed manufacturer FIAT is situated. The history of FIAT is intimately connected to that of town, as you will discover during your trip. However, the museum does not just concentrate on the history of FIAT but on the history of the car, offering a modern, diverse and instinctive chronological tour.
Finally, the museum isn’t to be missed for all of the tifosi of the Scuderia Ferrari, because all of the Ferrari F1 single-seaters are on screen.
7- Piazza San Carlo
Let’s return to the historical center to discover a special square: Piazza San Carlo. It is among the main squares in town, where an equestrian statue of the Duke of Savoy Emmanuel-Philibert is erected.
However, what really sets this square apart from others is the fact that it is home to the”twin churches”. In actuality, in this square are side by side the churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo, whose structure is nearly identical. Another detail that will draw your fascination is that the buildings surrounding the square still house cannonballs that were fired from the French military. Another small detail, on the construction in the corner of via Alfieri, you can see a tiny square representing the Last Supper. And if you take via Alfieri, you can observe what the Turinese call “The Devil’s Gate”.
Finally, for soccer fans who would love to see Turin, Piazza San Carlo is the place where Juventus’ tifosi come to observe the evenings of terrific victory.
It’s not possible to go to Turin without going there! Superga is a mountain situated east of Turin, which climbs to a height of 670 meters. If the place isn’t situated in the city of Turin, it remains one of the emblems of the city. The mountain offers a magnificent panorama of Turin and the Alps. On a sunny day, you may even see Mont Blanc. At the peak of the hill, you will run into the Basilica of Superga, a splendid rococo building designed by the Sicilian architect Filippo Juvara.
Superga is also famous for its drama, as in 1949 a particular flight from the Avio-Linee Italiane crashed on the mountain. The plane was chartered by the Torino football team, who were returning from a friendly game played in Lisbon. At the moment, the Torino was among the greatest teams in the world and for that reason the pride of the Torino people. In the collision, 31 people died, including just about all of the club’s staff. Since that time, every 4 May, fans have gathered in the memorial (situated next to the basilica) to pay tribute to what was called the ‘Grande Torino’.
9- The Royal Palace at Venaria
The Royal Palace of Venaria (Reggia di Venaria in Italian) is a historical residence of the Savoy family situated in Venaria Reale, north of Turin, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace is among the greatest in the world. It was constructed at the request of Duke Charles-Emmanuel II, who wanted to get a pied-à-terre for his hunting parties. The palace has a special facade, since from the 17th century that a brick building was added to the principal facade, which was coated in plaster.
Behind the palace, you will find gardens, which aren’t the original gardens. These were destroyed by Napoleon’s army. But, beautiful modern gardens have recently been laid out.
Finally, end your trip to Venaria by heading towards the Chapel of St. Hubert, finished in 1729 and which has a sublime high altar made by Giovanni Baratta.
10- The Egyptological Museum
Credit: Egypt Museum
The Museo Egizio is the main museum in Turin. As its name implies, the museum is devoted to Egyptian antiquities and contains among the biggest Egyptological collections in the world. Each year millions of tourists come to go to Turin particularly for the museum. You can for example find an authentic reproduction of the temple of Ellesiya.
11- The Duomo
The Dome of Turin is essential for all those that are enthusiastic about the Renaissance, coming to pay a visit to Turin. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist of Turin, also known as the Dome, is the main church of Turin. Constructed at the end of the 15th century, the Cathedral is one of the few surviving Renaissance monuments in Turin.
While the Cathedral is coated with white marble, the bell tower is constructed from red bricks. The monument is also composed of a rotunda where the Holy Shroud (il Sindone) is maintained.
12- The Palatine Gate
Credit: Palatina Gate
The Palatina Gate is a vestige dating partly from Roman times and partially from the Middle Ages. The gate was among the four major gates of a Roman town named Augusta Taurinorum. In 2006, once the city will host the Winter Olympic Games, the municipality decided to make the Archaeological Park, an area including the construction and the remains of the Ancient Theatre. The building of this area was meant to make it easier to go to these remains.