Turin Travel Guide

Italy's Royal Gateway - A Blend of Historical Splendor, Industrial Prowess, and Cultural Richness

Torino (Turin in English) is a dynamic, exciting city where royal palaces, bustling piazzas, and world-class museums meet. Given a thorough makeover when it hosted the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, this progressive city in Italy’s northwestern corner has never been better. As the Piedmont region capital (a gourmet region in northwest Italy) and Italy’s former capital, Torino serves as a cultural reference for northern Italy and as one of its major economic engines. Home to the Fiat factories (the famed Italian car manufacturer) and the birthplace of some of Italy’s largest companies, it’s also an important industrial center.

However, cars will be the last thing you think of as you stroll the lively city center or sip coffee in the sprawling Piazza San Carlo. There is no end to the distractions and attractions lining Torino’s busy streets. Stroll past opulent palaces, beautiful historic churches, picture-perfect squares, and welcoming Italian cafés. Don’t miss a visit to the cathedral, where the world-famous ‘Shroud of Turin’ is held, or to the Egyptian museum, which ranks as one of the world’s best.

Although industrial sprawl mars the city’s appearance from afar, it nevertheless enjoys a privileged setting. Surrounded by mountains – the Alps to the west and north, and Monferrato’s peaks to the south – and crisscrossed by rivers like the Po, the Dora Riparia, the Stura di Lanzo, and the Sangone, this is a verdant, affluent area. With its cold winters and pleasantly breezy summers, the continental climate sets it apart from the rest of Italy, where a warmer Mediterranean climate holds sway.

Turin’s storied history stretches back to pre-Roman times. The Taurini settled it before becoming a walled Roman military camp in 28 BC. The city’s basic street structure can trace its roots back to that settlement. When the Roman Empire fell, the city was ruled alternately by the Lombards, the Franks, and the Arudinic dynasty before falling into the hands of Savoy’s Counts, who held the city until Italy was unified in 1861 and Turin became its first capital. Previously, it had been the capital of a large kingdom encompassing Sardinia and the Duchy of Savoy.

  • Bagna Cauda
    Bagna Cauda

    Gastronomy & Wine

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  • Piazza Castello

    The city’s main public square, the porticoed Piazza Castello, is lined with palaces, like the imposing Palazzo Madama, now home to the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica (Civic Museum of Ancient Art) and the grand Palazzo Reale.

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  • Palazzo Reale

    Torino was the home of the royal Savoy family, and this opulent Royal Palace is proof of the family’s power and grandeur. Built-in the mid-1600s, the palace boasts a beautiful garden designed by Louis le Nôtre, better known for his work at Versailles.

  • Piazza San Carlo

    “Torino’s drawing-room,” this quintessentially Italian plaza is beloved for its historic cafés and the pleasing atmosphere created by its his-and-hers baroque churches, the twin San Carlo and Santa Cristina.

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  • Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista

    World-famous as the holder of the sindone (Christ’s Shroud), the Torino Cathedral is a must for any visitor. Some people believe that the shroud was used to wrap Jesus Christ after the crucifixion. Science, however, places the cloth’s age at 700 years. Whether or not you believe in the shroud’s authenticity, stop in at the fascinating Museo della Sindone (Museum of the Shroud) to learn more. The original is kept in a vacuum-sealed box; what you see on display is a reproduction.

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  • Museo Egizio

    This excellent Egyptian museum is considered to hold one of the world’s most important collections of Egyptian artifacts and ancient art, following only collections in Egypt and London. It’s the city’s best-known museum.

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  • Mole Antonelliana

    You can’t miss this large, imposing building, which towers 167 meters above Torino and is the city’s most distinguishing feature. Inside you will find the excellent Museo Nazionale del Cinema, the national cinema museum, which offers a lighthearted look at Italian film memorabilia.

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