The stately arcades of Via Roma, Turin’s premier shopping street, were designed in 1714 by Filippo Juvarra. This chic thoroughfare runs from the circular Piazza Carlo Felice, ringed with outdoor cafes and constructed around formal gardens, north into Piazza San Carlo, quite possibly Italy’s most beautiful square. In summer Piazza San Carlo is Turin’s harmonious outdoor salone, its arcaded sidewalks lined with big-name fashion stores and elegant cafes, including the genteel Caffé Torino (www.caffe-torino.it; tel. 011/545-118). In the center of the piazza prances a 19th-century equestrian statue of Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy. Two 17th-century churches, San Carlo and Santa Cristina, face each other like bookends at the southern entrance to the square.
At the far 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. Farther north still stands the massive complex of the Palazzo Reale, residence of the Savoy dukes from 1646 to 1865. Adjacent to the royal palace is Turin’s Duomo and a park Containing two landmarks of Roman Turin: the remains of a theater and fragments of wall, as well as the Porta Palatina, a Roman-era city gate, flanked by twin 16-sided towers on Piazza San Giovanni Battista. To the west lies the Area Romana, the oldest part of the city, a charming web of streets occupied since ancient times.
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