Italian Charm: Turin

LOCATED IN ITALY’S NORTHWEST PIEDMONT REGION, TURIN IS ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES FOR ITS HISTORY, ITS ARCHITECTURE AND ITS LOCAL CULTURE.

With its back to the Alps and its face turned to the fertile Po Valley, Turin has been a city caught between Italy and France throughout history, a city that combines the beauty of both sides. The name comes from Tau, a word meaning mountains in Celtic and said to come from the Taurinians, a Celtic-Roman tribe who settled in the region before the Roman era. In Italian Torino means little bull, and there is a figure of a bull on the city’s flag. Widely regarded as a miracle of symmetry, the city’s architecture bears witness to two thousand years of history. Exhibiting a variety ranging from the Baroque to the Hellenistic to Art Nouveau, it calls to mind an open air museum. What’s more, it’s not unusual to come across buildings that are wonders of design, one of them being the Mole Antonelliana, dubbed Italy’s Eiffel Tower and an icon of the city. Hosting the National Museum of Cinema today, this building although constructed in the 19th century looks much older.

FIRST CAPITAL

Famous for its glitzy shopping districts with their vaulted arcades, Turin is also a city rich in palaces and religious structures. The Savoy Royal Palace Complex and all its buildings have been declared a Unesco World Culture Heritage. The Duomo, a Renaissance cathedral, the 17th century Palazzo Reale, the fortress-like Palazzo Madama, the Palatine Towers, and the famous Santuario della Consolata with a statue of the Madonna in the crypt below the church are among the city’s sights worth seeing. Meanwhile the linen shroud in which the body of Jesus is believed to have been wrapped when it was taken down from the cross is preserved in the Santa Sindone Chapel of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (San Giovanni Battista). One of the city’s oldest institutions of higher education, Turin University was founded in the early 15th century. Many buildings in the streets - jammed with art galleries and antique shops - point to the city’s long history, a history as turbulent as it is long. The oldest known settlement was destroyed in an attack by Hannibal of Carthage in 218 B.C. Rebuilt during the reign of Julius Caesar, the city underwent a major development in the 1500’s when it was the capital of the Dukedom of Savoy. Capital of the Sardinian Kingdom in the 18th century, Turin was soon transformed into one of Europe’s most important cities. Then, in the middle of the 19th century, the kings of the various Italian city-states met in Turin to discuss the subject of Italian unification. Between 1861 and 1865 Turin earned the title of first capital city of a united Italy. Rapidly industrializing in the last century, the city became one of Italy’s leading centers of production. Thanks to its layout on a grid plan, it’s not hard to find your way in Turin. The Via Roma is the name of the main avenue lined with prestigious shops and cafes. The Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Castello meanwhile are two lovely squares where you can feel the heartbeat of the city.  The city’s giddy energy rarely slows, even at midnight. And this is perhaps Turin’s main distinction…

SLOW FOOD CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

Turin is the acknowledged center of the Slow Food movement, which emerged as a reaction to the disappearance of local culinary traditions in the rapid pace of modern life. There is no shortage of people who come to Italy today expressly to eat.

As with eating in general, many people come to Turin just for its famous chocolates. The century-old venues that produce or sell Turin’s famous-taste chocolates can be seen on a half-day tour. The sheer variety of creative shapes will make your head spin.

BEGÜM AKDOĞANLAR

Fashion designer

“One of Italy’s leading wine-growing regions, Turin also takes pride in its century-old automotive industry. The city, which was badly damaged in the Second World War, revived in the 1960’s when the Italian film and automotive industries began to be drawn here. The most important motor museum in Italy, the Museo dell’Automobile, is also at Turin.”
 
Turkish Airlines flies Istanbul-Turin-Istanbul Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Departure times are 9:35 a.m. from Istanbul and 12:35 p.m. from Turin. For information: www.turkishairlines.com

There are two famous flea markets in Turin. Balôn, a secondhand goods market, is set up on Saturday mornings directly behind the Piazza della Repubblica. And at the Gran Balôn, set up on the second Sunday of every month on the Via e Piazza Borgo Dora, there is nothing you won’t find: antiques, carpets, silver wares, clothing, postcards, books, film and sheet music.