The former capital of the Kingdom of Italy, Turin has always had an aristocratic, slightly reserved air. It remains the capital of the Italian motor car, home to Fiat and the Agnellis, along with the Bertone, Pininfarina and Giugiaro families, and other celebrated craftsmen and car specialists. With its regal history providing a backdrop, Turin always looks to the future, with its busy cultural centre, devoted to design and contemporary art. We present the best of this intriguing city
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
The centre of Turin is a concentration of art and history. An orthogonal urban grid, landmarks include the Piazza Castello, symbol of the Savoy monarchy, Palazzo Madama and Palazzo Reale, the 17th-century Piazza San Carlo with the churches of San Carlo and Santa Cristina and Piazza Carignano, the site of the first Parliament, which today houses the Museum of the Risorgimento. There’s also the famous Egyptian Museum and iconic Mole Antonelliana, not forgetting the luxury shopping streets and 18km of porticos, leading to Piazza Vittorio Veneto and the River Po.
Via Lagrange is where you’ll find brands like Prada, Trussardi, Chanel and Jo Malone, as well as Miu Miu, Cucinelli and Church’s. The Eataly foodmarket is in the centre, but it might be more fun to do your culinary purchasing at PAISSA (http://www.paissa.it), a grocery store that opened in 1884. There’s also the refurbished SAN CARLO DAL 1973 concept store (sancarlodal1973.com) in the piazza of the same name, a historic address for the city; TOP TEN (Via Soleri 2), with stylish clothes and interiors to match, LE PASSAGE (Via Giuseppe Mazzini 3) and OLYMPIC (Piazza San Carlo 176). LA GIOIELLERIA VIRANO (www.viranogioielli.it). The Ferrari dealership is FORZA SPA (Via Pier Carlo Boggio 56).
SEE AND DO
Turin’s city centre is awash with history. A visit to the EGYPTIAN MUSEUM (www.museoegizio.it) is indispensable. It is the second most important collection in the world after the one in Cairo, and from 2014 will be enlarging its space, taking over the area currently devoted to the Galleria Sabauda collection (which will be exhibited at Palazzo Reale). Opened in 2000 inside the striking Mole Antonelliana, designed by Alessandro Antonelli in 1863, is the NATIONAL CINEMA MUSEUM (www.museocinema.it). If you book in advance, you can enjoy other examples of Antonelli’s unique architectural style, like CASA SCACCABAROZZI (Via Giulia di Barolo 9) or, as it’s known locally, the “Fetta di Polenta”, due to the triangular shape of the land on which it was built in 1840. Worth a visit is also CASA MOLLINO (Via Giovanni Francesco Napione 2), the last residence of the architect Carlo Mollino, born in the Piedmontese capital during the early years of the 20th century.
EAT AND DRINK
The Slow Food revolution was born in Piedmont, and there is little doubt that the movement has had a profound influence on the quality of food and drink on offer in the city. You can enjoy a quick bite at PASTIFICIO DE FILIPPIS (Via Lagrange 39), which have been making pasta since 1872, or sit down for a five-star dinner at MAGORABIN (www.magorabin.it). For a more informal environment, try MARE NOSTRUM (www.ristorantemarenostrum.it) for deck-fresh fish; or, under the same ownership, but in more a contemporary vein, the new OINOS (www.oinosrestaurant.it), where sushi is reimagined as sushiliano, absorbing the tastes of southern Italy.
From a design environment to a super-Classical one, amid artworks from yesteryear, at IL CIRCOLO DEI LETTORI www.circolodeilettori.it, with stop-offs at the city’s historic cafés: CONFETTERIA BARATTI (Galleria Subalpina), MULASSANO (Piazza Castello, 15) and CONFETTERIA STRATTA (Piazza San Carlo 191). Ice cream on a stick, known as the pinguino (penguin), was invented at PEPINO (Piazza Carignano 8). You’ll need to wait a while for the re-opening of the nearby café of the nobility, IL CAMBIO www.delcambio.it. First opened in 1757, it is currently in the process of being restored.
There are a number of excellent hotels in the centre, beginning with GRAND HOTEL SITEA(www.grandhotelsitea.it), recently chosen by Ferrari enthusiasts for an exclusive party, with its famous CARIGNANO restaurant that faces out on to an enclosed garden. The PRINCIPI DI PIEMONTE(http://www.atahotels.it/en/principi-di-piemonte), has a very central location, housed in a wonderful 1930s building; its American Bar is ideal both for a business meeting or a more relaxed occasion. As the name indicates, the GOLDEN PALACE (thi.it), with its Art Deco inspiration, is a splendid address.
VALENTINO , SAN SALVARIO and LINGOTTO
The Valentino, the first Italian public park, stretches along the banks of the Po and the edges of newly fashionable San Salvario, before continuing on its way up towards the Lingotto, that great symbol of the Italian industrial revolution of Turin and, of course, of Fiat. Lingotto is also home to the Fondazione Pinacoteca del Lingotto Giovanni e Marella Agnelli art gallery and National Museum of the Motor Car.
SEE AND DO
Go for a walk in the Valentino Park, with the Castle and the “Medieval” quarter, which was actually created for an exhibition in the not-so-distant 1900, before a tour of car-related sites, starting, naturally enough, at the LINGOTTO. The plant was conceived in 1916 to bring together production and assembly lines under one roof, with, famously, a test track on top of said roof. During the 1920s the plant became a symbol of power of the Agnelli family, before Renzo Piano’s stunning redesign for the new Millennium, including a “treasure chest” that houses the PINACOTECA GIOVANNI E MARELLA AGNELLI (www.pinacoteca-agnelli.it), the Agnelli art collection. There are statues by Canova, paintings by Canaletto, Matisse, Picasso and Balla, while on a clear day you can see the entire arc of the Alps. And don’t forget to pay a visit to the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE MOTOR CAR (www.museoauto.it), tracing the history of the car, from the earliest days and invention of the internal combustion engine right up to today’s models. There is, needless to say, a special place for Ferrari.
Walking along the edge of the Valentino Park, along the Po, you come across DUPARC CONTEMPORARY SUITES (www.duparcsuites.com), an example of 1970s Italian Rationalism, an elegant, austere building with contemporary artworks inside, spacious apartment blocks that dominate the top of the hill, and the Duparc Oriental Spa, a wellness centre of Japanese inspiration, to relax after a hard day’s work. The restaurant is perfect for business lunches. Inside the Lingotto former Fiat plant are two hotels, the NH LINGOTTO and NH LINGOTTO TECH (www.nh-hotels.com). Within walking distance is the AC HOTEL (www.marriott.com), on the site of a former pasta factory. All are furnished in contemporary style.
EAT AND DRINK
San Salvario is now very much the place to be; at weekends it is hard to get away from all the people bar-hopping on their way towards one of the many restaurants in the area. There are two main points of reference: after an aperitif at DDR (www.ddrtorino.com), a design-conscious bar that is also great for an after dinner drink, move on to BRASSERIE BORDEAUX (Via Baretti 15), or SCANNABUE (www.scannabue.it), which has an atmosphere that is more akin to a private house. Stefano Gallo, at work in the kitchens of LA BARRIQUE (labarriqueristorante.it) combines Piedmontese dishes with flavours from across the Alps. The Eataly complex includes the multi-starred CASA VICINA – GUIDO PER EATALY (www.casavicina.it/), with its well-regarded seasonal produce.
EATALY (www.eataly.it) presents visitors with a culinary tour of the myriad regions and flavours of Italian food, with specialities including micro-produced cuisine and wine (there’s also space for some beer). Stock up with a trolley-full of treats. The 8GALLERY, inside the Lingotto complex, is a busy shopping mall, home to a number of popular brands, with the accent on designer clothing, accessories and technology.
OLTRE PO, GRAN MADRE
Turin is also an open-air race track; in the hills, leaving behind the rigid grid of the centro’s streets, you arrive in Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Opposite, beyond the River Po and neoclassical Church of Gran Madre di Dio, you look out over greenery to the outline of the Superga Basilica, and to the right, the Cappuccini Mountain.
SEE AND DO
LA GRAN MADRE DI DIO (Piazza della Gran Madre) is an important neoclassical church, a key part of “Magic Turin”, an apparent triangle formed with Lyon and Prague for white magic and with San Francisco and London for black magic. Indeed,
beneath the neoclassical temple it was said to be a place of worship devoted to the goddess Isis. Continuing past the building, you reach the Cappuccini Mountain and church of SANTA MARIA DEL MONTE (Piazzale Monte dei Cappuccini), a refuge from the summer heat with a balcony overlooking the city of the Savoy.
The VILLA DELLA REGINA (Strada S. Margherita 79) has an 18th-century plan, and can be reached by following the route of the hills. Enjoy panoramic roads towards Chieri and Pino Torinese and head up to the Baroque Superga Basilica. Built by Filippo Juvarra and completed in 1731, it houses the Savoy family tombs.
EAT AND DRINK
Have an aperitif on the terrace of the CIRCOLO CANOTTIERI ESPERIA (www.esperia-torino.it), looking out towards the setting sun and the rowers on the Po, or head to GRAN BAR (www.granbartorino.com) at the corner of the Gran Madre. For dinner, there’s the RISTORANTE MONFERRATO (www.ristorantemonferrato.com), which has served classic Piedmontese cuisine since 1820, or RISTORANTE CECCARELLI (ristorantececcarelli.it), with Tuscan dishes on the menu and elegant, pale interiors. The RISTORANTE MONTE CAPPUCCINI (Salita al Cai Torino 12) has a panoramic terrace perched over the city below. Tucked inside the Superga Basilica is the atmospheric RISTORANTE DEL PRIORE (www.basilicadisuperga.com/gusto.html; tel. 0118997456), with its Piedmontese menu and magnificent view.
The EXTRAVAGANZA occupies Piazza Gran Madre with vintage clothes and accessories and attracts a boho clientele. Between a wide-brimmed hat and a robe manteau find time to join the queue at PASTIFICIO GRAN MADRE (www.pastificiogranmadre.it) for a dish of ravioli del plin with either meat or cheese-fondue filling. Staying in the culinary sphere, there’s also the PASTICCERIA MEDICO (pasticceriamedico.it), where Filippo Novelli has been crowned “world champion” for his ice cream.
Try the Noto almond flavour with jam of dry apricots in Asti spumante and aromatised with orange and caramel. Then try it again.
The one downside of this exclusive zone, with its elegant apartments and townhouses with gardens protected by high walls, is that there are almost no hotels. Happily, there is one notable exception: the BEST WESTERN HOTEL CRIMEA (www.hotelcrimea.it) is a contemporary comfort zone that takes its name from the surrounding area. A little further away, and housed in a smart Liberty building, is the PRINCIPE DI TORINO (www.principeditorino.it/). Finally, the FORESTERIA (tel: 011 898 0083) is a real charmer, set inside the Basilica. Its 19 rooms, recently restructured and refurbished, have all been furnished in an 18th-century style.
Once an almost abandoned neighbourhood, over the past decade this area has developed as a magnet for a fashionable crowd, just as San Salvario is today. It still has a popular, multi-ethnic heart, but there are plenty of historic points of interest too, including the Palazzo Barolo and Palazzo Paesana di Saluzzo. There’s also the much-loved Church of the Consolata and, last but not least, The Museum of the Shroud.
SEE AND DO
The SANCTUARY OF THE CONSOLATA, in the piazza of the same name, is one of the most important places of worship for the Torinesi; built in 1678 on the site of the ancient church of Sant’Andrea. The original church’s Romanesque bell tower still remains, and it also houses a statue of the Holy Virgin Mary Consoling, in memory of the cholera epidemic that struck Turin in the 1830s. In the same piazza is BICERÌN (www.bicerin.it), opened in 1763, and former favourite of Cavour, where you can enjoy a warming glass of the drink named after the bar [made with chocolate, coffee and cream]. Afterwards, pay a visit to the PALAZZO BAROLO (www.palazzobarolo.it) where Silvio Pellico often stayed, and the nearby PALAZZO PAESANA DI SALUZZO (www.palazzosaluzzopaesana.it).
The pleasant TOWN HOUSE 70 (townhouse.it), features a large table for breakfast and roof terrace, or there’s the NH SANTO STEFANO (nh-hotels. com/NH-SantoStefano) at Porta Palatina.
EAT AND DRINK
Enjoy classic Piedmontese cuisine at I TRE GALLI(3galli.com) and L’ACINO (lacino.it). Discover some emerging chefs nearby: CONSORZIO (ristoranteconsorzio.it) is presided over by the talented Tommaso Baldassarri, who focuses on the quality of the region’s raw ingredients to offer a non-traditional cuisine, while at VINTAGE 1997(vintage1997.com) Pierluigi Consonni brings a uniquely Piedmontese approach to preparing produce, such as knife-beating the raw meat of a Fassone cow. For something lighter, AL GRASSI (algrassi.it), run by Michele Pascale, serves up tingly fresh raw fish, combined with flavoursome oils, to an appreciative crowd of regulars.
The Quadrilatero Romano is ideal for a leisurely bit of window shopping, with its independent boutiques and vintage shops and small workshops that were true “concept stores” before the term even existed. Reflecting the area’s cosmopolitan air, there are plenty of multi-ethnic shops too, including the Moroccan HAFA CAFÉ (hafacafe.it).
The city and bey ond
Rounding up the remainder of Turin’s historical and contemporary charms. Contemporary art can be found on show at the GAM (www.gamtorino.it), the FONDAZIONE RE SANDRETTO DI REBAUDENGO (fsrr.org), and at the CASTELLO DI RIVOLI (www.castellodirivoli.org); the latter is located around 20km from Turin. The Castello is also home to the COMBAL ZERO restaurant (www.combalzero.it), owned by Davide Scabin.
The annual event LUCI D’ARTISTA (light installations that are genuine works of contemporary art) brightens up various key parts of the city from late November up until Christmas time. The Officine Grandi Riparazioni (www.officinegrandiriparazioni.it) was built between 1885 and 1895 as an avant-garde centre for the overhaul and repair of locomotives and railway carriages; today it is a major events venue (the new Fiat 500L was presented to the world’s press here). The JUVENTUS STADIUM, completed in 2011, is already considered a leading example of contemporary architecture in the Piedmontese capital. It is the first stadium in the world to be eco-compatible and the first in Italy without crowd barriers. You can go on a tour of both the stadium and the club’s museum if you book in advance (www.juventus.com/juve/it/stadio-e-museo).
OUTSIDE THE CITY GATES
Be sure to visit the VENARIA REALE (www.lavenaria.it/). Located half hour from the centre of the Turin, it is a grand former Savoy residence and listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The neighbouring DOLCE STIL NOVO DELLA REGGIA restaurant (www.dolcestilnovo.com/) is excellent, with chef Alfredo Russo updating classic Piemontese culinary traditions. (turismotorino.org) tel: 011 535 181
Da issue 23, Yearbook 2013