Via Roma is Turin’s premier shopping street; it was designed by Filippo Juvarra in 1714 and leads in stately, arcaded progression from the circular Piazza Carlo Felice, ringed with outdoor cafes and constructed around formal gardens, into Italy’s most beautiful square. Piazza San Carlo acts as the city’s harmonious outdoor salone in summer, surrounded by arcaded sidewalks lined with big-name fashion stores and elegant cafes, including the genteel Caffé Ristorante Torino ((tel) 011-545-118). In the center of the piazza is a 19th-century equestrian statue of Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy. Facing each other at the southern entrance to the square is a pair of 17th-century churches, San Carlo and Santa Cristina. At the north end of Via Roma, the Piazza Castello is dominated by Palazzo Madama, named for its 17th-century inhabitant, Christine Marie of France, who married into the Savoy dynasty in 1619. Further north still stands the massive complex of the Palazzo Reale, residence of the Savoy dukes from 1646 to 1865.
Several tour companies run trips around Turin and Piedmont. Viator (www.viator.com; (tel) 702-648-5873) offers an intriguing underground tour of the city’s catacombs and hosts guided tours of the Barolo region. A hop-on, hop-off bus service circles the major attractions and is run by Torino City Sightseeing (www.torino.city-sightseeing.it; (tel) 011-535-181), while Delicious Italy (www.deliciousitaly.com; (tel) 06-8411-222) showcases the food stores and restaurants that have given Turin its gourmet reputation.
Turin’s beautiful playground is Parco del Valentino, which cradles the left banks of the River Po between the Ponte Umberto I and the Ponte Isabella. Its first incarnation was in 1630, when it was the private garden of the Savoy dukes, but the park was much extended in romantic English-landscape style in the 1860s and opened to the hoi polloi. It’s now a romantic place to stroll among the botanical gardens, flowerbeds, and manicured lawns. The Castello del Valentino was built in 1660, and was the pleasure palace of Christine Marie of France but is closed to the public. The castle forms an incongruous backdrop to the Borgo Medievale, a riverside replica of a 15th-century Piedmontese village. It’s a pleasant walk back into the city center along Corso Emanuele Vittorio II, or Tram 9 takes you back to Porta Nuova.
There are half a dozen rowing clubs on the Po; Reale Societa Canottieri Cerea (www.canottiericerea.it) is the oldest. Jogging and cycling routes encompass the riverside pathways, and the hiking center of the Gran Paradiso is around an hour away. Of course Turin is ideally situated an hour away from the ski resorts of Valle d’Aosta in the Alps, and it’s just a little further to the sandy beaches of the Riviera delle Palme to the south.
Especially for Kids
There’s plenty for kids to do in Turin. There are the open spaces of Parco del Valentino to run around in, plus free admission to the open-air Borgo Medievale, a mock-Piedmontese village built for the Italian General Exposition in 1884 (Viale Virgilio 107; www.borgomedioevaletorino.it; (tel) 011-4431-701; open 9am–7pm [8pm in summer]). Most youngsters will be intrigued by the Museum of Cinema at the Mole Antonelliana and if that doesn’t suit, the trip up the Mole’s tower to see the city lying far below certainly will.
The Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile provides the perfect junior antidote to Turin’s baroque attractions, as does a trip to the Olympic stadium, built for the 2006 winter games and now home to rival Serie A Italian football stars Torino and Juventus. Both the stadium and its sports museum are open for guided tours (www.olympicstadiumturin.com; Tues–Fri 2–6pm; Sat–Sun 10am–6pm; tours 14€ adults, 10€ under 16, seniors, students).
If your kids would rather participate in sport than just dream of it, the winter’s siren call to the ski slopes of Valle d’Aosta can be answered in about an hour.
And if all else fails, pop into Caffè Fiorio (Via Po 8; (tel) 011-8173-225) for some delicious ice cream.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.