Italian That Made Its Mark

Turin has been cited recently as one of Europe’s most dazzling destinations for its magnificent city squares, its taste festivals and its thematic museums.

It’s my second visit to this beautiful city of baroque facades, courtyards and boulevards, all  set in an extraordinary Alpine landscape around the River Po in Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region. On my first visit I had been drawn to Turin by the Chocolate Festival and the city’s being home to the Slow Food movement.  Now I’m here again to finish strolling from one end to the other of this city whose taste has been in my mouth since last year, and to breathe the excellent autumn air.

CHOCK FULL OF HISTORY

Thanks to its layout on a grid plan going back 2,000 years and considered a marvel of symmetry, it’s not difficult to find directions in Turin. Via Roma is the main thoroughfare lined with the prestigious shops and cafes. Along this famous avenue, Piazzo San Carlo and Piazza Castello are two squares when you can feel the heartbeat of the city. The Royal Palace of the House of Savoy and all its structures have been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The Renaissance cathedral, aka the Duomo, the 17th century Palazzo Reale, the castle-like Palazzo Madama, the Palatine Towers, the Icon of the Virgin Mary and the famous Santuario della Consolata are among the city’s sights worth seeing. Turin’s mind-boggling energy never slows even at evening. Watching the crowds go by as you sit in a cafe sipping your espresso, encountering a magnificent building on every corner, taking in the restaurants, chocolate shops and small galleries, and observing the city’s fashionably dressed residents is a pleasure in and of itself.

FROM CINEMA TO CLASSIC CARS

The National Museum of Cinema is located inside one of Turin’s main attractions, the Mole Antonelliana Tower, often dubbed the Eiffel of Italy and one of the city’s iconic structures. This 161-meter tower was built in 1859. You can watch an excellent outer space installation from the horizontal seats in the dome-shaped middle section. Another big attraction is the breathtaking view visible from Cinema Museum’s glass-cage elevators. The Egyptian Museum is another of the city’s impressive artistic and cultural offerings, housing the largest permanent collection on Egypt in the world outside Cairo. Exhibited in a five-story building on the Via Academia, the collection includes genuine mummies, millennia-old papyri, and a large number of artifacts representative of life in ancient Egypt. Turin National Automobile Museum, known for its extensive, 170-piece collection, is located on the same square (Lingotto) with a giant lecture hall, exhibition areas, shopping centers and a 10,000-square-meter gastronomy market. You can reach the museum from the city center in five minutes by metro.

THE SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT

Slow Food is a movement that seeks answers to questions like where does food come from, what factors constitute taste and how does the choice of food affect culture. Unlike the fast food culture, slow food aims to preserve the culture of traditional nutrition and derive enjoyment as well as satiety. It was launched in the Piedmont region in reaction to Italy’s opening up to its first international fast food chain branch in 1986. With over 100,000 members and 1,300 branches around the world today, it is an organization of civil society that places supreme importance on human health. Slow Food restaurants, which offer natural menus without additives whose ingredients are selected from organic markets, can be found almost all over Turin.

TOWARDS 2015 EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF SPORTS

A true sport city with everything from winter sports to football, Turin is putting itself forward as the strongest candidate for European Capital of Sports in 2015, a title held this year by Istanbul.

Turin’s candidacy for 2015 European Capital of Sports was announced by the Federation for the Association of the European Capitals and Cities of Sports (ACES), sponsored by the European Commission. This city, which hosted the 2006 World Winter Olympics, is no stranger to the concepts of sport, athlete and investment. Turin is at the same time host to two footballs clubs that are cited among the best in Europe. The first of them, Juventus, is one of Italy’s top football teams and occupies a prominent place in the world rankings. The city’s other football club, Torino, not only has a strong fan base but is also the official user of the city’s largest stadium, the Stadio Olimpico. One of Europe’s major stadiums, Stadio Olimpico hosted both the FIFA World Cup in 1934 and the 2006 Winter Olympics. Another of Turin’s sports successes is in the game of volleyball. The city’s official volleyball team, C.U.S. Turin, was European Volleybal Champion in the 1979/1980 season, going down in history as the first team from Western Europe to take part. Meanwhile the club’s success in the Italian Volleyball League continues apace. Turin’s first rugby team has the same name as the volleyball team. Finally, Turin also boasts Europe’s largest motorsport park, the Valentino Park Circuit.