If you’re looking for a holiday with delicious cuisine, a rich heritage and excellent attractions in 2019 / 2020, look no further than Italy’s unsung hero, Turin. While the former capital city of Italy may not draw the country’s largest crowds, Turin has plenty to offer with an abundance of natural beauty, a vibrant cuisine and sophisticated culture. Turin Centro is refined and elegant, with stunning baroque architecture like the Palazzo Carignano, arcade squares, such as the Piazza San Carlo, and traditional Italian street cafes serving indulgent hot chocolate and shots of authentic espresso.
In Turin you can see the Alps from the Mole Antonelliana museum, visit one of the country’s pioneering opera houses, the Teatro Regio, and go on a culinary discovery experience at the nearby city of Alba. Opting for a holiday in Turin gives you excellent value for money as you are less than an hour away from the Alps and the Gran Paradiso National Park, with the potential for skiing trips in the winter months and hiking excursions in the summer.
Thanks to its location on the scenic Po River, Turin has an abundance of fresh water, nourishing the city’s stunning public parks and their lush green displays. Of all these parks, Parco del Valentino is one of the finest, with a spectacular botanical garden area, majestic castle and historic medieval village all within its gates. Turin is something of a cultural hotspot and has an excellent variety of museums and other cultural attractions, such as the Castello di Rivoil, Museo Egizio and Palazzo Reale.
For an authentic historic experience, visit the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista, which was built between 1491 and 1498, the Porta Palatina and the 1st-century Roman Amphitheatre. Owing to the city’s former status as the capital of Italy, Turin has an impressive array of palaces and castles including the Castello di Moncalieri, Palazzo Carignano and Castello di Racconigi.
Turin has a huge selection of opportunities for eating out, whether you’re looking to try traditional Turin cuisine or are looking for a place to grab quick and easy international food. The Piedmont cuisine is among the most diverse and famous in Italy, with Piedmont being the birthplace of the ‘Slow Food’ movement founded by Carlo Petrini in the 1980s with the purpose of protecting regional traditions and really savouring your food. The Salone del Gusto e Terra Madre fair, a biennial food convention is hosted in Turin in the autumn to promote the benefits of eating healthy, locally-produced food and savouring dining as a social event at the same time.
Some of Turin’s specialities include the antipasti (starters), such as stuffed veal, mini cheeses served with chilli, sweet peppers, anchovies and cold cured meats. When it comes to main dishes, the Po Valley region is famous for its arborio, a short-grained rice that is used in risotto and pasta dishes including agnolotti - a stuffed ravioli with minced lamb. Secondi (snails, fish and meat) makes Turin a carnivore foodie’s dream, as you can try a huge variety of delicious freshly-prepared meats and really expand your taste boundaries.
When it comes to romantic holidays, Italy is top of many people’s list. Turin is an excellent romantic destination if you’re looking for a more tranquil holiday with an air of sophistication, and will really appeal to refined couples that enjoy wining, dining and soaking up the culture of this historic city. With its surrounding of lush green hills and majestic Alpine mountains, Turin is a naturally romantic setting for a holiday with your loved one. The historic city centre is full to the brim with luxurious baroque-era palaces and picturesque mansions, as well as a number of maze-like arcades with trendy little boutiques and authentic Italian restaurants. With a number of regal buildings including the Palazzo Carignano, Palazzina di Stupinigi and Palazzo Madama e Casaforte degli Acaja, Turin is the perfect place to whisk away your prince or princess for a romantic marriage proposal, anniversary celebration or quiet holiday to reconnect.
Although it’s lesser known than many of the superstar Italian destinations, Turin is truly a cultural gem. With a stunning mountainous backdrop, captivating collection of historic architecture and excellent cultural attractions, Turin is one of the foremost destinations in Italy if you’re looking for a culturally-enriching holiday. Turin has a more laid-back ambience than Milan but is just as fashionable, as the home of the Primo Levi and a former hangout of the iconic Nostradamus. Turin was the seat of the Savoy royal family and has the honour of being the first capital city of Italy, has the biggest collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts outside of Egypt itself and is the birthplace of the ‘Slow Food’ movement.
Turin is also said to have the best chocolate in Italy, making this is a must-visit location for foodies with a sweet tooth. Some of the most iconic cultural attractions in the city include the legendary Shroud of Turin, known in Italian as ‘La Sindone’, which is kept in a climate-controlled chamber at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. As the Shroud itself is only displayed from time to time, you can visit a replica at the Museum of the Shroud to learn more about this iconic religious artefact. The Mole Antonelliana was originally constructed as a synagogue back in the 1860s and was formerly the tallest building on Earth – and it still holds the title for the highest brick building remaining in Europe.
With its inland location, Turin itself has no beach but due to its excellent transport connections you can reach a number of excellent beaches by rail or car. The closest seaside town is the Riviera della Palme, which is easiest to reach by rail. If you’re willing to travel further afield, you can reach a number of excellent beaches along the Ligurian Coastline, otherwise known as the Italian Riviera, by rail or car. This stretch of coastline is home to some of the most exclusive beach resorts in Italy, including Portofino and San Remo, as well as the traditional fishing villages in Cinque Terre.
A good alternative to heading to the beach is to travel to the Natural Park of the Lakes of Avigliana, which has two beautiful lakes - the Lago Piccolo and the Lago Grande. These lakes are only 30km from Turin and offer an excellent balance between the coastal beaches and the city, with a variety of natural features and sports that everybody will enjoy.
Visiting Turin with your family can be an interesting and culturally rewarding experience. Turin still flies relatively under the radar with many tourists, making it less busy and bustling than other Italian tourist resorts. If you’re looking to really immerse yourself in Italian culture, Turin is an ideal place to mingle with the locals and live a lifestyle that’s as close to authentic Italian as you can get.
Some of the best attractions in the area include the Egyptian Museum, housing what is considered the second most historically important collection of Egyptian artefacts in the world, and the Museo Wgizio. As the fourth largest city in Italy, Turin has a lot of family-friendly attractions to see including Turin eco city tours and even fun Segway tours of the city.
Action & Adventure
While Turin is renowned for its sophisticated dining scene and historic attractions, there’s no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities here either. Turin has over 160km of cycling paths that run throughout the city, as well as the surrounding parks. With numerous cycle rental shops throughout the city, it’s easy to hire a bike and go, making for a fuss-free active day exploring the naturally beautiful and verdant surroundings of Turin.
Avigliana Lakes and Nature Park is around 30km from Turin and is the ideal venue for swimming, hiking or running. Close by, you’ll also find the ZOOM amusement park and zoo, which offers an unforgettably interactive zoo experience with a water pool that gets you close to ‘swimming’ with the penguins. If you’re looking to get up close and personal with animals and keep your kids entertained, you can head to a local Agrigelateria, a working farm. Many of these local farms cater to visitors with a meet-the-animals section and fresh local produce for sale.