Here we go, my number-one destination in Italy (apart from Rome). Turin is the city I was most excited about. There were some disappointments but even more pleasant surprises. Is Turin worth visiting? Definitely! What to do in Turin? I’m about to tell you. We are Jan and Karin, and this is the best of Turin sightseeing.
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I’ll start easy. Turin is a large city and capital of the Piedmont region. This means that there are many grandeur palaces, spectacular museums, and thousands of squares lined with stunning buildings and majestic memorials.
We started our “Gran Torino” tour on Piazza San Carlo (mostly because it’s close to the Egyptian Museum I was curious about, but more on that note later). It’s a large rectangular square with a bronze equestrian statue of the duke of Savoy in the middle. What makes this place particularly photogenic are two symmetrical churches at the end, the church of Santa Cristina and the San Carlo Borromeo church, forming a frame for the statue. We took a morning coffee in the square enjoying the view of arcades buildings and a quiet atmosphere. No wonder it’s called “a drawing room of Turin”. Moreover, the Turin Shroud is in one of them.
We couldn’t miss the best viewing point of the city, so we decided to climb up the hill to Monte dei Capuccini for the most iconic view of Turin with the Alps in the background (like the one from the title picture). The name of the hill comes from the order of Capuchins, who built a church and a convent up on the top. When we were already there, we decided to look inside the Museo della Montagna, as we had a free entrance with the Torino + Piemonte Card. Nothing interesting there… except the 2006 Winter Olympic Games exhibition which commemorates the hosting of the Olympics. You can wrap up the visit in one hour or so.
This is a funny one. As if the entire Piedmonte region hadn’t enough castles and palaces, they decided to build a fake medieval village in the center of Turin on the riverbank in Valentino Park. Borgo Medievale was created at the end of the 19th century as a reconstruction of a typical 15th-century Piedmonte village. Pretty good job if you ask me. Like, you know it’s not the real deal, but the whole village is complex and beautifully decorated. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it there, maybe next time. It’s situated in Valentino Park across the river from Monte dei Capuccini, ideal for a picnic or a late afternoon walk along the riverbank.
Tip: Another notable building in the park is Castello del Valentino, a splendor Savoy residence in a French style, nowadays home to the University’s Department of Architecture. I would call it a pocket version of Versailles.
The only standing Roman gate to the city. Originally, there were four of them, but they didn’t make it to these days. In fact, Turin has many interesting tourist attractions, but it’s not nearly as rich in Roman monuments as Aosta city. And even Porta Palatina isn’t completely Roman, the two towers on the side were added during the 15th century. On the other hand, it’s supposedly the best-preserved Roman monument in northern Italy. I had the opportunity to compare Porta Palatina with the Roman monuments in Aosta and while there’s much more in Aosta, they’re not in such a good state. The visit is for like ten-minute window, including the picture taking.
Read also: Top 10 Things to Do in Aosta Valley
Now the (un)real deal. I think Turin is not so sought after by tourists in comparison to other big cities in Italy. Which is a pity because it’s truly beautiful. But those who travel to Turin usually do so because of one of the most important Christian artifacts of all times. Millions of Christians come to Turin Cathedral to see the Turin Shroud with their own eyes… and they get disappointed. You literally cannot see anything. The Holy Shroud is kept in a bullet-proof, climate-controlled, air-tight box in a separate chapel. If you want to see at least the replica of the shroud you need to visit the Most Holy Shroud Museum.
Interested in the history of the Turin Shroud? Read up on its authenticity, occasional display and more in the article A Sceptic Visits the Turin Shroud: It Sucks and It’s Fake Anyway
Besides the Shroud, the cathedral is not that interesting. It was built in the 15th century and modified several times (after fires and renovations and such). Some members of the Savoy Royal Family are buried there and that’s it. Long story short, the Turin Cathedral sucks and I’m sorry I didn’t do a more thorough research which would save my time.
Our tips for Torino: ?️ Where to stay: Turin Palace Hotel (9.5 ⭐) | Principi di Piemonte (9.2 ⭐) | Liberty Hotel (9.1 ⭐) ? Save money with Torino + Piemonte Card (I recommend the 2-days card).* ☕ Cool coffee spot with delicious snacks: Café di Palazzo Reale. *Check the name when filling the form carefully. We accidentally ended up with two cards in Karin’s name.
This was the most beautiful palace I’ve seen in Italy. It’s located on Piazza Castello, and we went on the tour accidentally, but it was totally worth it. I wanted to get to the Royal Armory, but you have to pass through the whole palace to get there, so I surrendered, and we did the entire tour. And it was one of the rare occasions when I was pleasantly surprised.
You can tell the Savoy Royal Family must’ve been the Rockefellers of their time by the lavish interiors. Everything is gilded, richly decorated, and the single chandelier is worth my annual salary. The ticket to Royal Palace covers:
This place was simply mind-blowing. The tour took us around 2 hours and we didn’t visit everything, so clear enough time in your schedule for this UNESCO masterpiece.
Did you know that Turin is the birthplace of Italian cinema? Well, I didn’t either. The National Museum of Cinema was a thrilling visit for an hour and a half. To begin with, it’s located in Mole Antonelliana which is like an Eiffel Tower of Turin. This most notorious Turin landmark is a must-see tourist attraction for everyone! The cinema exhibitions trace the history of the silver screen from the first cameras to the Star Wars movies props (yep, Star Wars were filmed in Italy).
For the ultimate experience, take the panoramic elevator to the 85 meters high viewing platform. I’m telling you; it will blow your head off.
According to The Times magazine, the National Car Museum in Turin is one of the 50 best museums in the world. The regular reader won’t be so surprised to hear that, but I disagree. Like yeah, it has three floors and almost 200 cars on display, from the first Ferraris and Rolls-Royces to the F1 race cars and military jeeps. But I still think the Hollywood Cars Museum in Las Vegas is better. What to say, I was keeping this one as the cherry on the top of Turin sightseeing and the Egyptian Museum got me far more.
To be clear, I’m not saying it’s not wort a visit. It’s like a boy’s paradise. You get to see the evolution of various types of cars, history of engines and tires, and most importantly…a love of my life. The 1968 Jaguar E-Type, the most beautiful car in the world. I always say I’m gonna buy this beauty for my retirement and just flex in it like a proper old grumpy man. The original piece is worth more than 2 million USD. Wish me luck.
Top number 1 must-see place in Turin! I didn’t expect much, and I was stunned. It’s so huge! It’s the largest Egyptian Museum out of Egypt. Most of the artifact were discovered at the beginning of the 20th century at archeological sites in Libya and Egypt and moved to Italy (what about the eighth commandment, huh?). The funny thing is, the collection is so big, that in normal museum a single burial statue would be cherished as a Holy Grail. In Turin? Yeah, well, let’s stack all that crap in one big showcase signed “Burial Statues”. On the bright side, the signs and labels are in English (unlike in Austria, Germany, or Spain). This Covid-themed one in particular caught my eye:
The fact they stole the entire temples and statues is acceptable, but I felt kind of weird seeing the 24 human and 17 animal real mummies. That’s a bit morbid, even for me. Like, yeah, it’s interesting, but the idea that someone will dig me up after 4 000 years I’ve been dead and start to showcase me, that’s just awkward (lucky cremated fellas, right?). I like the museum’s approach on the other hand. If you think it’s ethically wrong (or the contrary) to display the dead bodies, you can express your opinion in the official survey issued by Museo Egizio on that matter.
Okay, that’s not for everyone. As I said, Turin is like a Disneyland for big boys. For any football fan, visiting the Juventus Turin Stadium is a must. It was officially opened in 2011 with a capacity of 41 000 seated spectators. Now I can show off a little, because the first ever guided tour was led by former Juventus player, now a member of the board, Czech midfielder Pavel Nedvěd. Anyhow, the daily tours will take you to the dressing rooms, facilities, and the pitch as well as to the museum (J-Museum) on the grounds. The whole tour takes around an hour.
Opening times and Prices:
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