This is an excerpt from the book “Turin“
Walking is definitely the best way to feel the pulse of Turin: stroll around the city parks, drop into its historic cafès, take in the multiethnic quarters, enjoy fashion and shopping, but don’t forget that Turin is magical too. So put on your walking shoes and let your curiosity lead the way.
Turin has a Baroque face and an Art Nouveau face, it has its Royal Residences, its bridges and 18km of arcades lining the city center, but there are innovative installations too, set on creating a brand new look.
A tour of 20th-century and contemporary Turin combines a history lesson with an introduction to some avant-garde infrastructures and works of art.
For centuries Turin lingered on the edge of the Ancient Roman “checkerboard” layout legacy (even today a distinguishing feature of the city center) and it entered a golden age in the 1600s, thanks to the commitment of the Savoia family, who commissioned the greatest architects of the time to enhance their capital.
Capital of the Duchy of Savoy, the Kingdom of Sardinia and then the first capital of Italy, the heart of the Torinese baroque system is the “Corona delle Delizie”: a circuit of 14 Royal Residences – urban, suburban and some located in the rest of Piedmont – declared “Patrimonio dell’Umanità” in 1997.
The entire region is starred with these magnificent buildings that form a vast circuit. Stately palaces, fairytale castles and immense parks recount a history of dukes and bellicose kings, lovers of art and collectors, refined royal ladies who loved ballet and the theatre, famous royal architects.
Places built for the purpose of entertainment and leisure, splendid hunting lodges, palatial buildings at the heart of modern Italy, the Royal Residences narrate the epic deeds of the House of Savoy, from the grand dukes to the first kings of Italy.
In town we should remember: Palazzo Reale, the Royal Palace was the Savoia residence until 1865, Palazzo Madama, the home of the Museo di Arte Antica and Palazzo Carignano, location of the Subalpine Parliament and first national Parliament, following the Unification of Italy.
The Palazzo Reale is an impressive seventeenth-century building, which has been altered and extended on various occasions down the centuries. It still bears traces of the work of the most important artists active in Turin. Until 1865 it served as the residence of the Dukes of Savoy, the Kings of Sardinia and the Kings of Italy.
Out of town: the Stupinigi Hunting Lodge or Palazzina di Caccia, the palace at Venaria Reale and Rivoli Castle.
Stupinigi, a small hunting hut…
The Stupinigi Hunting Lodge, with its beautiful park and extensive surrounding grounds, is extraordinarily bold and original.
Today it houses the Museum of Art and Furnishing, with its furniture, paintings and objects of great value from the original furnishings of the Lodge, as well as from other Savoy residences.
The Rivoli Castle is connected by a 20-kilometre direct road to the Basilica of Superga, that was built to satisfy a vow made by Vittorio Amedeo II in front of the statue of the Mother of Graces during a difficult time for the Savoy dynasty. In 1706 Turin was invaded by the French troops of Luigi XIV who ambitiously hoped to transform Piedmont into a French province, but found a fierce resistance on the part of the Duke Vittorio Amedeo II.
On 2 September 1706 the Duke, along with Prince Eugenio, climbed the hills of Superga to examine the battlefield from a great height. The small church at the top of the hill served the few parishioners of Superga. In front of the statue of the Madonna, the Duke made a vow: if he obtained victory against the French, he would erect in that place a large church in her honor.
On the morning of the 7th September at 10 o’clock the fighting began. The battle was bloody and terrible but the Piedmontese army had the better of their French counterparts who were defeated. Turin was free and Piedmont maintained its liberty.
The Duke Vittorio Amedeo II assumed the crown of Sicily and then Sardinia and in 1717 laid the first stone of the glorious temple vowed in the honor of the Madre del Salvadore – The Savour of Turin.
Where to stay in Turin
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