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Turin, Italy

Visiting Turin in Northern Italy

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Turin, Italy

Turin cityscape.

(c) City of Turin.

by Susan Breslow Sardone

Turin, also called Torino, is a northern Italian city that, like the best of weddings, combines something old and something new.

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While Turin is best known as the repository of the shroud of Turin (a fabric believers maintain covered Christ after the crucifixion) and birthplace of Fiat and Italy's automotive industry, the city's hosting of the XX Winter Olympics has attracted fresh attention to Turin.

Founded by the Romans in 28 BC, Turin today has a population of one million and is just an hour from both the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. To reach Turin, international visitors fly to Malpensa Airport in Milan, also an hour away.

Italy being Italy, though, there's much more to Turin than the Olympic Games:

  • Appreciate art? Turin's support of contemporary art is part of the city's pride, and works of art are on display in museums, along city streets, even on billboards.

  • Are you fans of exceptional architecture? Turin's collection of Grand Baroque buildings, many of which were built in the 17th and 18th centuries by the Savoy dynasty that united Italy, is unparalleled. The Duomo di San Giovanni, built in 1498, is Turin's last vestige of Renaissance architecture and home of the Shroud. Other styles include Neo-Classical, Art Nouveau, and 20th-century Modern.

  • Prefer the work of newer architects? In the 1990s this serious, all-business city began transforming its cityscape thanks to structures designed by Renzo Piano, Gae Aulenti, Mario Botta, Massimiliano Fuksas, Mario Bellini, Norman Foster, and other greats.

  • Make a beeline for museums? Turin has more than 40 of them, including the Egyptian Museum, Agnelli Picture Gallery, and GAM, home to contemporary art. The Royal Library of Turin shelters the famous self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci.

  • Favor Fiats? Admire fine automobile design? Turin has been called the Motown of Italy, and you can trace its origins at the Automotive Museum.

  • Eager to hear opera? Turin's Regio Theater is where La Bohème premiered.

  • Crazy for Italian cinema? Before Rome's Cinecittà, there was Turin, birthplace of the country's film industry and home to its Cinema Museum since 1960.

  • Like to linger in cafes? Turin is home to both new and well-preserved historic cafes where you an indulge in Piedmont delicacies that range from frito misto to white Alba truffles. The city is also where vermouth was invented.

  • Live to shop? Storefronts along the Royal Court carry the wares of the world's finest designers. Porta Palazzo is the largest open market in Europe, and the Gran Balôn is the largest flea market in Turin.

  • Love chocolate? In Turin you can savor the unique flavor of gianduiotti, which blends chocolate and hazelnuts. Complement it with bicerin, a hot drink that combines coffee, cream, and chocolate. Mmm.

    Turin Landmarks

    Those who hope to see the Shroud of Turin will have to wait almost a generation: The fragile linen cloth is not scheduled to go back on display in the Cathedral until 2025. However the Duomo is open to visitors who can view a blowup of the image on the relic.

    A Turin icon that distinguishes its skyline, Mole Antonelliana is a tall, brick-and-iron building topped by a spire. It was commissioned by Turin's Jewish community as a synagogue in 1862. Today it houses the city's popular National Museum of Cinema.

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