Half the fun of a visit to this lovely basilica is the 6.5km (4-mile) journey northeast of the city center on a narrow-gauge railway through the lush countryside of the Parco Naturale della Collina di Superga. The church was built as thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for Turin’s deliverance from the French siege of 1706. Prince Vittorio Amedeo II commissioned Filippo Juvarra, the Sicilian architect who designed much of Turin’s elegant center, to build the magical Baroque confection on a hill high above the city. The eye-catching exterior has a beautiful colonnaded portico, an elaborate dome, and twin bell towers, and is actually more visually appealing than the ornate but gloomy interior, a circular chamber beneath the dome with six chapels protruding off. Many scions of the House of Savoy are buried here in the Crypt of Kings beneath the main chapel.

advertisement