To discover Turin means to discover two thousand years of history, and walking through the city’s streets is like visiting an open air museum.
Palazzo Carignano, which today houses the Museo del Risorgimento (Risorgimento Museum), was the seat of the first ever Italian Parliament and was designed by Guarini, who was also responsible for another building overlooking Piazza Carignano and which houses the Galleria Sabauda (Savoyard Gallery), one of Italy’s most important picture galleries. Built in 1832 by order of Carlo Alberto, and featuring the paintings from the Dukes and Kings of Savoy, it conserves a number of works from the Italian and European schools (Beato Angelico, Pollaiolo, Tintoretto, Poussin and Van Dick among others).
The very same building also features the Egyptian Museum. Created in 1824 by Carlo Felice, it is the oldest of its kind in the world and the second most important after Cairo, housing over 30,000 exhibits.
Palazzo Madama is a building that symbolises two thousand years of the city’s history. In 1848 it became the seat of the Subalpine Senate and it has been the home of the Museum of Ancient Art since 1934, featuring a vast collection of three thousand paintings, miniatures, sculptures, ceramics, furniture, tapestries, gold and silver that date from the Byzantine period right up to the modern era. Opposite Palazzo Madama is the Church of S. Lorenzo, while the ‘Duomo’ (‘Cathedral’) and the ‘Palazzo Reale’ (‘Royal Palace’) stand to its right. The cathedral is flanked by the Chapel of the Holy Shroud and its beautiful dome designed by Guarini. The chapel has preserved and periodically displayed the Holy Shroud since 1684.
Behind the State Archive and the ‘Teatro Regio’ (‘Royal Theatre’) extends the Riding Area, which is dominated by the towering form of the Mole Antonelliana, the city’s best known landmark, built in 1863 according to Alessandro Antonelli’s design. The ‘Mole’, 167 metres high, is the tallest brickwork building in the world and houses the National Cinema Museum, a spectacular multimedia exhibition created to celebrate cinema from its origins right up to the present day.
Turin has a wealth of museums that really do have something for everyone. On the one hand, there is the heritage handed down by the House of Savoy, and on the other the city’s passion for modern and contemporary art, which can be discovered at the Gallery of Modern Art, Palazzo Bricherasio, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, the Giovanni and Morella Agnelli Picture Gallery, Rivoli Castle and numerous other expositions, of which some are even open air.In order to discover all of these treasures, the local authorities have created the ‘Abbonamento’ and the ‘Carta Musei Torino Piemonte’, special subscriptions and season tickets which enable enthusiasts to visit more than 120 collections in the city of Turin and the region of Piedmont (Info: Tel. 800 329329).
Turin, however, is also a city rich in parkland, and one of its most beautiful and characteristic areas is the Parco del Valentino, 500 hectares of greenery right in the heart of the city centre. Situated on the banks of the river Po, between the Isabella and Umberto I bridges, the park follows the course of the river past the Castello del Valentino, favourite residence of Madama Reale Cristina of France, who organised tournaments, tilts, feasts and fluvial battles in its grounds. A Botanical Garden has been present since the 18th century, and features a rich variety of plants as well as a fascinating library.
Turin is a city of traditions and a thousand faces, but it is also a modern metropolis undergoing continuous transformation and which intends to establish itself as an international reference point for tourism and culture. The 2006 Winter Olympic Games will constitute an event of worldwide importance and the ideal opportunity to lead the city in this direction. You will find all the information you need at the Atrium, the futuristic structure in wood, steel and glass designed by Giugiaro and situated in Piazza Solferino in the city centre.