Turin is known for its cold, greyness and large industries. On the other hand, it is also a fascinating, interesting city. Linked to the Savoy tradition and being the ex capital of Italy, it is a city of charm, rich in historic monuments with the entrepreneurial spirit of a city in continual economic growth. It is an ordered city, built to an urban plan from the roman period with linear streets that are clearly set out. Turin is an elegant city that does not flaunt its “regal” past, traces of which can be found in its artistic, historic and museum heritage.
Centre: The physical, historic and cultural centre is the symbol of the ancient capital of kingdom of Savoy. Turin would not be the same without its “palaces”, such as the come Palazzo Madama or the Palazzo Reale, and the porticoes which date from the baroque period. These make up an extraordinary walk which winds around the centre for 18 kilometres, and were built to protect the royal family and their court from bad weather. Starting from the Porta Nuova walk towards the Cittadella, and from there walk to Piazza Castello and under the porticoes which are surrounded by shops, bars and cafés of all kinds until you reach the River Po. Crossing Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Carlo Felice, walk opposite Palazzo Reale and in the distance, continuing towards Via Po, the Gran Madre can be seen beyond the Piazza Vittorio bridge.
The numerous cafés in the centre are an excellent refuge in the cold winter days where one can warm up with a tea or a hot chocolate. Platti is a seductive place with its desserts, as is Pfatish with its chocolates. The atmosphere in Caffè Torino is a perfect place to taste “bicerin” as is Baratti, in the Galleria Subalpina, which has a reminiscent feeling of far-off days of princes and princesses. On the opposite side of Piazza Castello is the Cathedral which houses the Holy Shroud and is currently undergoing restoration after the fire of a few years ago. The Mole Antonelliana stands out amongst the other buildings, and offers a splendid landscape view of the city to anyone who climbs to the top.
Crocetta-Cenisia: This is a mostly residential area which is popular with the torinesi for its elegance. The famous Crocetta market offers a wide variety of quality products. This is the place to take a deep breath of good Turin air amongst distinguished buildings and sophisticated shops.
Mirafiori: This area is mainly associated with Fiat, which has its enormous factories here. In the last ten years, this working class area has been revamped and it is now one of the most popular places for people looking to buy a new house. There are many green areas here, including the famous Park, Parco del Valentino, and the Superga’s Park
North Turin: This area is highly populated; there are many shops here, but the large number of crowded buildings darken the atmosphere. There are a number of wholesale shops in the area, such as Revedi, but tourists generally prefer to shop in the centre of town.
Turin is one of thirty three international official centres for witchcraft. Their focal point is either the astrological sundial on the right side of the Cathedral or the Egyptian Museum which has the second best collection of Egyptian cultural and traditional material and documentation in the world.
San Salvario: The multi ethnic area of Turin extends from Porta Nuova to Porte Palatine. The large number of immigrants pouring into Turin in the last few years have settled in this area recreating the atmosphere of their homelands. The Torinesi have partly abandoned this area which is one of the districts that is most in need of rehabilitation.
History of Turin
Little is known about Turin before the Roman domination. It is probable that the Taurini, a people of Celtic or Ligurian origin, lived here. The city was destroyed by Hannibal in 221 BC during his descent from the Alps towards Rome. Julius Caesar gave the inhabitants of Taurinum Roman citizenship and changed the name of the city to Julia and then it was renamed Augusta Taurinorum by Augustus. The city was plundered by the Lombards and it became one of their thirty dukedoms. The task of protecting the transalpine routes and suppressing possible revolts by neighbouring peoples was taken over from the duke by the Count of the Carolingians. The area then passed into the hands of the Arduini who, under Berengario II, set up the realm of Italy. The most important Marquis was Olderico whose death led to the succession of the Counts of Savoy. Nonetheless, Turin was not immediately handed over to the House of Savoy, although they had the title of Marquis they had to share power with the bishop for a long time. After mixed fortunes, Amedeo III took control of the city, which then passed into the hands of Angioini and on to Guglielmo XII, Marquis of Monferrato who lost it to Tommaso III. From then on the House of Savoy continued to rule until the sixteenth century. The city was then entrusted to the French king Francesco I, whose successor returned it to Emanuele Filiberto. The French were frequently involved in disputes over the successors and alternately backed the success of one pretender or other. From 1800 to 1814 Turin was the capital of the French department of the Po, and in 1815 the House of Savoy was restored. Ever since then the history of Turin has merged with the State of Savoy and, subsequently that of Italy.
In 1848 Piedmont was at the centre of the first Italian war of independence. The Piedmontesi defeated the Austrians at Pastrengo and then, thanks to the endurance of Tuscan volunteers at Curtatone and Montanara, they managed to overcome them at Goito. On the 30th October, Carlo Alberto was crowned King of Italy. However, the war rapidly turned against the Piedmontesi who were forced to surrender to the Austrians and give up Tuscany. After the annexation of Lombardy, Tuscany, Emilia and Romagna, and the Papal State, the international policies of Cavour and the exploits of Garibaldi, who conquered the Kingdom of the Due Sicilie in February 1861, Vittorio Emanuele II was proclaimed King of Italy on the 18th February. The capital was originally in Turin but was moved to Rome on the 27th March. The Albertine Statute celebrated fifty years in 1898.
Over time Turin became more and more industrialized and it was therefore heavily bombed during the Second World War by the Allies and later subjected to terrible destruction by the retreating Germans. In the 1950’s Fiat played an essential role in the re-development of the city, and, after a period of recession in the 1980’s, it gained importance in the 1990’s as one of the most developed technological regions. Thanks to Turin’s new image, the city will host the winter Olympics in 2006.