Saturday, June 1, 2013

Turin a city between past and future



Over the past 100 years or so Turin has rather become Italy's forgotten city. For tourists, it comes a long way down the list behind the magnetic must-see destinations of Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. For Italians, Turin is still perceived as a kind of "grim up north" metropolis of heavy industry, with its emblematic Fiat factories.

Today Torino is a city of art, a modern and exciting one that looks ahead towards tomorrow. Torino’s future has already begun: the city is capable not only of guaranteeing infrastructures and services to businesses, but a 360° span of proposals that have granted it access to the prestigious Michelin Guide’s classification as a “three-star city” along with Florence, Venice and Rome. This is because Torino offers a quality of life made up of art, culture, gastronomy and art de vivre that can only be found here.  



When in the city what immediately strikes the eye are its surroundings, with imposing Alpine peaks that encircle its skyline. The Piedmontese Capital presents itself as a city with a singular charm: emperors traversed it, kingdoms arose in it, and it was thus that power left its indelible marks on it. A metropolis that regards its past by looking toward the future, with the ambition of a city that, as a tiny village in the Region of Piedmont, became the capital of both a realm and a nation, only to later become a capital of cars and cinema.

During the day, it is possible to go for a walk through the streets or under the 18 kilometres of arcades to admire the store windows of the fashion world’s finest designers or to visit the artisans’ shops or those of artists. Without omitting  the pleasure of wandering around through the many markets: from Porta Palazzo, Europe’s largest outdoor market, to Balon, the famous flea market that features antique goods. There are many other markets to be visited, from neighbourhood markets to those that present typical gastronomic products.



When the time comes for a break, there are many time-honoured cafés to choose from that are a part of Torino’s customs and culture. The decision is whether to choose a classy caffè or a funky bar. Traditionalists will tell you not to miss the celebrated Belle Epoque Caffè Platti (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 72, ), but a more fun time is to had at the lively student haunt Pasticceria Abrate (Via Po 10), or the terminally hip La Drogheria (Piazza Vittorio Veneto 18), whose DJ has everyone dancing even before the official aperitivo hour is over. If you find the buffet is not enough to fill you up, head for fashionable trattoria Pastis (Piazza Emanuele Filiberto 9b, +39 011 521 1085) or, for a traditional Piemontese meal, try the Tre Galline (Via Bellezia 37, +39 011 436 6553).



Nature

New projects will offer the citizens of the “city with the most beautiful natural location” (as Le Corbusier once said) an environment that is even more immaculate. Even distinguished philosophers like Rousseau and Nietzsche agreed with the great architect Le Corbusier that Torino could be defined as one of the most fascinating of cities. These projects plan upon recuperating banks of the rivers and transforming them into a single river park that measures 70 kilometres in length with a 17 million square metre surface.
They were referring to the extraordinary backdrop of the Alps, the rolling hills so close to the centre of the city, the Po  and other rivers – Dora Riparia, Stura and Sangone – that flow through the region’s capital as well as the 18 million square metres of greenery and 300 kilometres of tree-lined streets that make this city one of the world’s wealthiest from an environmental viewpoint.





A heritage that is fully enjoyed by residents – who love to spend their free time outdoors – and embellished by great public projects such as the new river park along the Dora that is redelivering an immense green area dotted with well-equipped areas, bicycle routes, pedestrian and play areas to its citizens.

Walks and hikes in the Parco della Collina Torinese (Park of the Hills of Torino) – made up of Bosco del Vaj (Vaj woods), Collina di Superga (Superga hill) as well as the hills of il Colle della Maddalena and Cavoretto -  offer the capital an opportunity and a heritage of inestimable natural wealth. The Parco del Meisino (Meisino park) is a naturalistic oasis in which one of Europe’s most important colonies of grey herons live in an urban environment. A visit to the historic Giardini Reali (royal gardens), a canoe ride along the waters of the Po river, a jog through the Parco del Valentino (Valentino park) up to the Italia 61 park, a bike ride along the many bicycle routes immersed in green are all a must-see for anyone living in Torino or discovering it.


The best way for discovering the many facets of Turin is..


Is to go on a tour of the city's historical centre taking in the museums and foundations that reconstruct its history and reveal its artistic and cultural treasures. This includes Europe's largest collection of archaeological finds at the Egyptian Museum, or the more recent history of the 'seventh art' brilliantly presented at the National Museum of Cinema, the exceptional treasure of ancient art held in Palazzo Madama, and then of course, Palazzo Reale, the powerhouse behind Italy's very first capital.
Turin is also a vital point of reference for contemporary art: works and installations produced over the last thirty years by internationally famous artists are placed for all to see in the open air or on display at the country's most important Museum of Contemporary Art within the 17th century Castle of Rivoli.




The mainly baroque art of the many places of worship in the town's centre blends with the spirituality to be found therein: the Sanctuary of the Consolata and the Sanctuary of Maria Ausiliatrice are a couple of Turin's best loved churches. Other places that are a must are the Duomo where there will be held the Ostension of the Holy Shroud in the spring, the twin churches in Piazza San Carlo, and the Church of San Lorenzo with its famous dome by Guarini or the Basilica of Superga which, as well as holding the tombs of the Savoy family, also offers a breathtaking view of the city and mountains. Lastly, just a stone's throw from the city centre, palaces, castles and fortresses dominate the hills, plains and mountains of the province of Turin. These are of inestimable value and some of the most outstanding are the Royal Residences, a legacy of exceptional cultural and environmental interest, leading to their denomination as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The mainly baroque art of the many places of worship in the town's centre blends with the spirituality to be found therein: the Sanctuary of the Consolata and the Sanctuary of Maria Ausiliatrice are a couple of Turin's best loved churches. Other places that are a must are the Duomo where there will be held the Ostension of the Holy Shroud in the spring, the twin churches in Piazza San Carlo, and the Church of San Lorenzo with its famous dome by Guarini or the Basilica of Superga which, as well as holding the tombs of the Savoy family, also offers a breathtaking view of the city and mountains. Lastly, just a stone's throw from the city centre, palaces, castles and fortresses dominate the hills, plains and mountains of the province of Turin. These are of inestimable value and some of the most outstanding are the Royal Residences, a legacy of exceptional cultural and environmental interest, leading to their denomination as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.



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