22 June, 2015
Turin is a vast and fascinating city and as a consequence there is plenty to do and plenty to see. Here is a quick run down of my day in Torino and all the things I got up to.
Having descended from the spire lookout of the Mole Antonelliana, I made my way downstairs to the National Museum of Cinema – which, it must be declared, is incredibly awesome! The two sites/attractions share a building and are in odd contrast – the distinctive architecture of the Mole is almost regal and demands respect, while the museum below is a dedication to everything fun, creative and wild.
Next up on my list for the day was the drop-dead gorgeous Palazzo Reale, or Royal Palace. A large square building – of course with a courtyard in the middle, as one might expect – the edifice now houses the Palace, the Library and a restaurant. The gardens are also maintained, though unfortunately were not open when I visited. The beauty of the Royal Palace is something that I am not likely to forget. Having spent many months in Italy, and also having travelled to France, Spain and England, I have become a semi-veteran of palace-visiting. Though Torino’s Palazzo Reale was something to behold. The staircase (depicted below) which leads visitors into the Palace caught my breath and that effect only accumulated as I wandered through the maze of golden rooms.
Near Palazzo Reale (and included in the combined ticket) is the Archaeological Museum, which includes the Tesoro di Marengo, Treasure of Marengo, one of the most significant finds in recent years. The Museum of Antiquities is mostly underground, beneath the Art Gallery, and it is very well presented. Eerily quiet, the Museum is controlled by calm and includes a fascinating insight into an uncovered Roman theatre.
After a quick lunch – pizza con radicchio, which was actually really delicious (see below) – I wandered across the River Po and trekked up a windy incline to reach Santa Maria del Monte, a hilltop monastery.
The view from the hilltop, il Monte dei Cappuccini, was stunning. I can’t describe it any other way. It was an uncomfortably hot day, but I was entirely content to lean against the wall and look out across the River Po to the city of Torino, spread before us in all her sophisticated glory. The church was noteworthy and unique, due to the circular installations suspended above, and they gave the sense that the place was peacefully other-wordly.
After gaining respite and recovering my energy while gazing out upon the beautiful city, displayed like a painting before me, I walked along to the Chiesa della Gran Madre di Dio (Church of the Grand Mother of God) and then back across the River towards Parco del Valentino to see the Castello.
Castello del Valentino, an impressively stunning building framed by the river on one side and the lush Parco del Valentino on the other side, was sadly closed when I visited (it is only open on selected days during the year), though I was able to have a wander around the park and explore the vibrant and lush paths. The park was so peaceful – filled with couples wandering hand-in-hand, youngsters playing football, tourists on rented bikes. Walking about with my espresso gelato in one hand and camera in the other, I was quite content.
Add to my wanderings and adventures my morning brush with the Pope (if you haven’t read that story, you can access it here: https://lapiccolaviaggiatrice.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/i-saw-the-pope-he-waved/#more-431 ) and I can truthfully say that it was a pretty solid day! Turin is, as I said before, an incredibly fascinating and diverse city with plenty to explore. Other highlights in Torino include the Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum), which I was unfortunately unable to visit, the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista, Piazza Castello and Piazza Vittorio Veneto. The city is alluring and expansive enough that one is able to lose themselves in the charming streets, wandering from one grand building to another. I was in Torino only for a day, and feel as though I have barely scraped the surface of the bewitching city. I definitely needed longer than a day to truly discover the city, and I would love to return to pick up where I left off and reacquaint myself with the beautiful streets once more.