I went to Torino (or Turin), Italy in the autumn of 2017. It was October and we decided to have a short city-break in one of the cities of Italy we thought to be less “touristy”. Torino is located in the north of Italy, and it is the capital city of the Piedmont region. It is also a business and industrial forum, being very close to Milan, in terms of such development.
We arrived in Torino sometime in the afternoon. Our accommodation was rather far from the city centre, some 4 or 5 subway stations away, plus an extra 10-minute walk. Somehow, it never actually bothered us. We rented a one-bedroom apartment in a quiet neighbourhood and getting from there to the subway felt like walking our home neighbourhood.
Besides being a comfy apartment in a quiet neighbourhood, the best perk of this accommodation was actually the gelateria on the ground floor of the building. Possibly, the best gelato we ever had, every day we were there, at least twice a day…we basically lived on gelato for 3 days. So, if you ever go to Torino, even if you feel it’s out of the way, do go to Gelateria Telesio. It is totally worth it.
After getting ourselves settled in the apartment and obviously having some gelato we decided to do a recon mission in the city centre. By the time we reached it, darkness had already descended over Torino, so of course, there was no point in trying to visit any museums, but rather just stroll around the city center and make mental notes of what to return to the next few days.
And so, the following day we started with the Egyptian Museum, which we thoroughly enjoyed, although it did give us the creeps from time to time, with its mummies and sarcophagi, though, I guess, that’s what made it interesting. If I remember correctly, the visit took about two hours, although if you are a “meticulous” tourist, it will probably take you longer, so if you plan to visit it, make sure you set aside enough time.
After the Egyptian Museum, we headed toward Mole Antonelliana, probably one of the most popular buildings and tourist points in Torino. This building was originally meant to be a synagogue but it now holds the National Museum of Cinema and it is believed to be the tallest museum in the world. The interior is a big circular room and you can get to the top with a lift that goes through the middle of the building, which makes the trip up quite thrilling. We didn’t visit the Museum of Cinema, but we did admire the inside and outside of the building and hopped on the lift that took us to the top, where we enjoyed a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
Once out of the Mole Antonelliana, we stopped at a restaurant nearby where I ate, for the first time, ravioli. After satisfying my appetite, we continued our discovery of the city, at Porta Palatina, an imposing gate-towers structure, a remnant of Roman times, and The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, which is accompanied by a completely different bell tower, in terms of architectural style. This Cathedral, also named “Duomo di Torino”, is considered to be the most important church of the city. What makes it so important and attractive? “The Shroud of Turin”. This is a linen sheet, made in a manner used in ancient Egypt, that was used as a funeral cloth. Of course, the connection between this and the shroud of Jesus was made, making the linen sheet a holy object that attracts many tourists and pilgrims to the Duomo. And of course, whether it was the shroud of Jesus or another crucified man, the object is still impressive for its story.
On our third day in Torino, we visited the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale di Torino) where we spent almost the whole day, as it comprises various parts. We started with the main building, the actual Palace, saw the Sabauda Gallery, the Royal Armoury, and spent some time relaxing in the Royal Gardens. We also had a cappuccino at the Caffe Reale and this gave us a chance to unwind after all the walking we did. After the cappuccino, I, of course, just had to see the Royal Library, which still functions as a public library and is somewhat smaller than I expected. However, the old architecture and the walls lined with books still give you a feeling of an insignificant speck of dust in the greatness of time.
After seeing all there was to see of the Royal Palace, we started moving away from it and we got to Piazza Solferino and took a short stroll through the park there, then ended up having dinner in an American restaurant, called the T-Bone Station, where i devoured a big burger and fries. You didn’t think I could actually live solely on gelato, did you?
For a city-break, I would say Torino is the perfect city. It still gives you enough places to visit, many of them with some surprising features, such as the Mole Antonelliana with its lift or the Duomo di Torino and its Shroud, while allowing you to take a slow pace, enjoy walks through the city center and have plenty of great gelato – if you know where to go. Besides this, we somehow felt very much at home in this city, so we probably wouldn’t have gotten bored even if we’d stayed longer. As I was looking at the pictures we took and following Google Maps to pinpoint all the places we’ve seen, I realised I actually miss it and hope to someday return to this weirdly familiar, yet extraordinary city.