Description and Characteristics
Lively and elegant, always in movement, nonetheless Torino is incredibly a city set in the heart of verdant areas: gently resting on the hillside and enclosed by the winding course of the river Po, it owes much of its charm to its enchanting location at the foot of the western Alps, watched over by snowy peaks.
The first Capital of Italia invites you to discover its ancient and modern history, the palaces and museums, the parks and tree-lined avenues, the river and the hills, the restaurants and historic coffee houses, the long colonnaded streets and the multiethnic neighbourhoods, the great events and the many little pleasures which have always made it unique, in a balance between the rational Roman town layout, th measured pomp of Piemonte baroque and the originality of the modern and contemporary architecture.
Museums of Torino
You should discover the diversity of Torino through its many amazing museums, testifying to the history, culture, industry and internationality of the city. Already back in 1824, François Champollion - who deciphered the hieroglyphs - wrote about the Egyptian Museum (second only to the one in Cairo) that “the road to Memphis and Thebes passes through Torino”.
In the early 1900s, our city was the birthplace of Italian cinema: it was therefore inevitable that here was created the National Museum of Cinema in the glorious setting of the Mole Antonelliana.
Many buildings bear witness to the love of the House of Savoy for culture: the Royal Armoury, one of Europe’s richest, the Savoy Gallery with a collection of Italian and Flemish art, the Museum of Ancient Art at Madama Palace and the National Museum of the Italian Risorgimento in Carignano Palace.
Torino’s industrial vocation has found its exhibition centre in the renovated MAUTO- National Automobile Museum which tells of the city’s automotive history and the social issues related to it.
On Monte dei Cappuccini, in a panoramic position over the city and the Alps, stands the National Museum of the Mountain, started in 1874 to ideally unite the mountains of the entire world.
Torino is also the Italian capital of today’s - and tomorrow’s! - art, with international institutions such as GAM-Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, the Merz Foundation, the Giovanni e Marella Agnelli Art Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art at Rivoli Castle, all home to major exhibitions and precious permanent collections.
But the city itself is a veritable open-air museum, with works by world famous artists such as the igloo by Merz, the “Arte povera” of Penone, the complex of the PAV-Living Art Park... and it is in continual transformation!
Relive the atmospheres of bygone times and of Torino as the first Capital of Italia in the glorious Royal Residences, home to the life and power of the House of Savoy: a “crown of delights” that characterises and encircles the city, forming a unicum in Europe, recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
Right in the centre, in Piazza Castello, there are the majestic Royal Palace - which, with the Savoy Gallery, the Royal Armoury, the Royal Library and the Archaeological Museum, form the Royal Hub - and Madama Palace with its magnificent baroque facade and the Museum of Ancient Art filled with beautiful works.
Not far away is a typical example of Piemonte baroque: the imposing Carignano Palace, since 1878 home to the National Museum of the Italian Risorgimento.
Along the River Po is Valentino Castle, built by Christine of France in the French style and now housing the Faculty of Architecture of Torino Polytechnic.
Just a short way from the centre, the hill embraces Villa della Regina, surrounded by Italianate gardens with pavilions, fountains and agricultural areas.
The “crown” is completed by a wonderful collection of castles and residences in the surrounding areas.
The incredible Royal Palace of Venaria now hosts major events, exhibitions and concerts in its magnificent interiors and spectacular gardens.
A favourite spot of the Savoy family for sumptuous feasts and solemn weddings was the Stupinigi Hunting Lodge, modelled on the style of contemporarily built Central European residences. One of the most ancient of Savoy residences is the monumental Moncalieri Castle which was a defensive bulwark in medieval times and transformed by the Savoy into a place for educating the young princes.
Built in the 11th century, Rivoli Castle became a courtly residence in the early 1600s, but the subsequent project by Juvarra remained unfinished: the Museum of Contemporary Art is therefore housed in an original architectural context.
La Mandria Castle was the favourite of Victor Emmanuel II: the Royal Apartments, perfectly preserved, reveal the intimate and family usage made by Rosa Vercellana, known as “la Bela Rosin”, his mistress and, later, morganatic wife.
Lastly, just a few kilometres outside Torino, the elegant Ducal Castle of Agliè is surrounded by a park with ancient trees and contains precious furnishings and collections; in Cavour Castle at Santena the famous statesman initiated and held the most important political meetings; at Susa Castle the marriage between the Countess Adelaïde and Otto of Savoy marked the origin of the Savoy dynasty.
Places of Worship
Torino has always been a city imbued with a mystical atmosphere which, even now, can be breathed during the exposition of the Holy Shroud, the sacred linen in which the body of Christ was wrapped, now held in the renaissance building of St John Cathedral.
Many churches are gems of the history of art, such as St Lawrence with the bold dome by Guarini, St Philip Neri the city’s largest religious building, and the Great Mother of God which oversees, imposing and mysterious, the two banks of the River Po.
A triumph of baroque art is to be found in the twin churches of St Charles and St Christina in Piazza San Carlo, the church of Corpus Domini consecrated to the miracle of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Shrine of the Consolata which, with the neoclassical Basilica of Mary Help of Christians founded by Don Bosco, is the chief church of popular devotion not only by the town’s citizens.
Lastly, on a panoramic viewpoint that embraces the ring of the Alps, the Basilica of Superga by Juvarra dominates the city, a building where the monumental tombs of the Savoy kings are housed in the basement.
The religious vocation of Torino and the entire region can also be seen in the works of the Social Saints who, acting in different fields and using different methods, educated the working classes and the young, founded congregations spread around the world and marked the history of the Church: the saints Giovanni Bosco, Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo, Giuseppe Cafasso, Leonardo Murialdo and the blessed Francesco Faà di Bruno, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Giuseppe Allamano and Giulia Falletti di Barolo.