Torino deserves to be on that “bucket list” of things to see among the many beautiful Italian cities.
It is “Torino” for us and “Turin” in English, even if it is unnecessary to change that pronounceable name.
I visited Torino a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to see the Egyptian Museum, which is second to the one in Cairo only.
Torino is a city of a thousand facets: the ancient capital of the Savoy Kingdom with a regal appearance, the cradle of the Risorgimento and the scene of significant historical events for Italy, an industrial city that was then able to reinvent itself, a pole of innovation and a city of artistic and cultural experimentation.
Torino reminded me a little of Paris, with its long “boulevards” and trees-lined streets. I thought it was the city for me. It is not the first town that comes to mind when visiting Italy, yet it offers so much.
The Road to Menfi and Thebes Passes Through Turin
As I said above, there is a very important Egyptian museum in Torino, which is second only to the one in Cairo. As early as 1832, the Museum opened to the public.
In 1824, the Savoy King Carlo Felice acquired 5,268 pieces that the French General Consul, Bernardino Drovetti, built during his stay in Egypt.
In 1833, the collection of Piedmontese Giuseppe Sossio (over 1,200 pieces) was added to the Egyptian Museum. The collection was complemented and completed by the finds of Egyptologist Ernesto Schiapparelli during his excavation campaigns between 1900 and 1920, which further filled out the collection.
The latest intervention has radically re-functionalized the spaces, the entire museum itinerary (divided into five exhibition floors), and the plant equipment because of the grand reopening of 2015.
If you can’t travel to Cairo, Torino Egyptian Museum is definitely a valid option.
But Torino is Much More
The city used to be a major European political center. From 1563, it was the capital of the Duchy of Savoy and the first capital of the then Kingdom of Italy from 1861 to 1865.
It was well ruled by the Savoy family. Unfortunately, the Savoy failed to live up to its name in the most recent history.
The city has a rich culture and history, is known for its art galleries, historical Cafes, restaurants, palaces, parks, and gardens. Torino is very green, and I love it. When visiting, it strikes you to its Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo, architecture.
In Piedmont, there are the best hazelnuts ever. When the cocoa became too expensive because of a tax imposed by Napoleon in 1806, a chocolatier in Turin named Michele Prochet extended the little chocolate he had by mixing it with hazelnuts. Thus, the Gianduiotto was created (1852); may he be blessed!
From there, another culinary genius (Michele Ferrero) decided to push it a little further. In 1963, he created Nutella, which accompanied me thru my childhood with goodness!
Legend has it that the name Nutella came from NUT (for hazelnuts) and ELLA from Ella Fitzgerald, because Mr. Ferrero was a fan of hers. That’s what I was told, It is a nice story, I want to believe it.
Suppose you have the “blues” and walk the streets and porticos of Torino. There will be plenty of chocolate cakes, Giandouiotti, and chocolate spreads to take good care of those blues. If in need of a more significant push, then there is the Bicerin!
The enveloping taste of this drink with its warm mélange of chocolate and coffee has conquered the hearts of the Torinese and many illustrous people, including the writer Alexandre Dumas. Best if tasted at Caffe Baratti & Milano. A lovely historical Caffè in the city’s heart, Caffè Baratti & Milano is one of the oldest and most prestigious historic cafes in Turin, located in the central Galleria Subalpina, open since 1875.
Torino is much more than a walk downtown. Torino is crossed by the River Po—the Italian biggest river—and along the river banks, there is the most romantic Park ever, Valentino Park! A most convenient green getaway for the weekends.
“The street lamps in love“. Two street lamps, made by the master artist-gardener Rodolfo Marasciuolo, are placed on a bench. They seem to hug each other in an accomplice and loving embrace. The upper part of the lamppost that appears to be a “she” is bent over the imaginary shoulder of “him”.
The palace of Venaria Reale is one of the Savoy residences now part of the UNESCO serial site registered in the World Heritage List since 1997. The Palace of Venaria was commissioned by Duke Carlo Emanuele II Savoy, who intended to make it the base for hunting trips on the Turin hilly moors. Works started in 1658. The Duke intended the “hunting Lodge” to be a summer residence for the court and courtiers. That way, he could keep an eye on them, just like what the king of France did just a few years apart with Versailles.
Venaria is relatively empty of furniture because Napoleon, when passing by Italy, always left with a few souvenirs…
Called Galleria di Diana in recent years but historically referred to as the Galleria Grande and dedicated to the glories and virtues of the Charles Emmanuel III reign. It constitutes the most spectacular setting of the entire palace.
It is about 15 meters high, 11 wide, and 73 long. It has a refined stucco decoration covering the entire vault and walls. In addition to being a place of representation of power, it connected the residential part of the complex to the chapel and the stables through antechambers, halls, and galleries.
Stupinigi is yet another hunting lodge (they loved to hunt those European rulers!).
A Savoy Residence for Hunting and Festivals. Built in 1729, the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi is one of the monumental jewels of Turin, 10 km from downtown Torino.
Stupinigi was Reopened to the public after major restoration work; the Palazzina di Caccia is one of the most extraordinary eighteenth-century complexes in Europe. Still has its original furnishings, paintings, cabinet-making masterpieces, and land design.
It was built from 1717 to 1731 for Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy, at the top of a hill in the vicinity of Torino called Superga, to fulfill a vow the Duke and future King of Sardinia had made after defeating the besieging French army. The church contains the tombs of many princes and kings of the House of Savoy, including the Monument to Carlo Emanuele III (1733) and Carlo Alberto of Savoy.
Superga Hill can be quite foggy some days.