Turin has lately been making...
Turin has lately been making itself dramatically more accessible, inviting, and navigable for tourists. The periodic viewings of the Shroud both jam the city (the two-month-long showing last spring, the first in twenty years, drew more than a million people) and set deadlines for renovation. The Royal Palace was repainted and cars were banned from much of the main piazza in time for last spring's onslaught, and the showing next year, in honor of the millennial, is likely to bring more renovation.
Yet even as it spruces up, Turin retains the intimacy and bustle of a pre-war city. On recent visits, when I would find that some Italian magazine had just highlighted the many improvements and called for yet more, I encountered very few tourists but many friendly natives. Turin has long been an insiders' secret. That may soon change...
Blood royalty, rather than industrial royalty, built the city. Turin was the seat of the House of Savoy, whose kings reigned, at least nominally, until 1946. One of them, the reform-minded Carlo Alberto, helped to stoke the revolutionary fervor that led to Italy's unification, in 1861, with Turin as the capital. (The capital was moved to Florence in 1865 and to Rome five years later.) The first Italian Parliament met in Turin's most beautiful building -- the Palazzo Carignano, built in the late seventeenth century and the birthplace of Carlo Alberto.
Sightseeing should begin at the palazzo, which is within steps of the city's main museums and just blocks away from the best shops and nicest cafés. The palazzo is a Baroque marvel of undulating lines and red-brick ornament, including, unexpectedly, motifs taken from Native American feather headdresses (to commemorate Piedmontese participation in a French victory over the tribes of Quebec). Today it houses an absorbing museum of the unification of Italy -- helpfully, many of the placards are in English -- with excellent summaries of the country's wartime history. History comes alive across the way at the Ristorante del Cambio, an elaborately decorated restaurant where Count Camillo di Cavour, the architect of unification, held court and kept an eye on who was going in and out of Parliament. Perhaps he ate bollito misto, fragrant boiled meats sliced on a rolling silver cart, which is still the house specialty.
Cycling in Torino
Despite consciousness is growing among drivers, like in most urban areas it is suggested to avoid shared roads in town by choosing to stay on dedicated trails. Traffic restrictions have dictated a consistent increase of freewheeling Turinese commuters although the ratio is far behind that of northern European countries.
Turin is expanding and renovating its network of cycling trails and routes within the urban area. There are currently over 100 Km (60 mi) of dedicated cycling trails across the city and these are a viable solution to reach most neighborhoods.
One of the best cycling trails is the one unfolding along the Po river inside Vallere and Valentino parks, extending to Stupinigi Castle and its park to the south, and Colletta park or San Mauro to the north. Try to avoid Sunday crowds if cycling through parks.
One of my favorite tours is what I call "the 4 rivers", 50 Km (30 mi) along the Dora, Stura, Po and Sangone rivers. Most of the ride is within city parks and dedicated trails.
Public bicycle rentals are available at various locations including selected city parks, check website link herebelow for information (page in Italian language only).
Map of cycling paths can be accessed from this link.
Each Saturday is the Balôn, a...
Each Saturday is the Balôn, a large flea market near the city's marvelous cast-iron-and-glass food markets; on the second Sunday of every month an expanded version, the Gran Balôn, draws dealers and customers from all over the region.
OLD Malpensa Airport Connection
Malpensa Torino con Eurostar Alta Velocità
From 10th February a brand new connection between Milan Malpensa Airport and Turin (via Novara) in just 1 hour and 27 minutes.
Is now starting on service the High Speed railway line between Novara and Turin. The train is the "Eurostar Alta Velocità"
The schedule of the new fast Eurostar is:
Turin 06:55 - Malpensa 08:22
Turin 16:55 - Malpensa 18:22
Malpensa 10:40 - Turin 12:05
Malpensa 20:40 - Turin 22:05
Take note: this connections does NOT pass via Milan city.
the fare is 16 euro 2nd class or 21 euro 1st class.
3RD MARCH 2006 UPDATE: TRENITALIA REPORTED TODAY THAT THIS SERVICE IS SUSPENDED. Check on their website further info.
8th december 2008 Update: Trenitalia does not think to activate this service again. So sorry :-(
Revised Tip: Chinese food....and more in Turin
- Update as of May 2008 -
Rather than deleting obsolete tips, I try to update them when possible.
Capitol restaurant has changed, the new ownership has turned it into a Japanese food place - which is a growing trend in town.
Name changed to "Kirin" which mostly offers raw seafood dishes such as sushi, sashimi and maki. Selection of different dishes is honestly not as wide as one may expect, therefore this place is probably recommended more to those who enjoy raw seafood - not me.
Price level is average for this kind of restaurant, which is clean and has a sober ambience.
Old tip was:
I've tried many different Chinese restaurants in town and one among my favorites is definitely Capitol.
Maybe not the fancier place you can find, but the quality of food is excellent and in addition to Chinese specialties they also serve Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
I've been eating at this place in the last 15 years or so and they never let me down.
Ask for Linda, tell her you knew about this restaurant from me and she'll treat you like a king and queen! - Update as of May 2008 -
I had dumplings, tempura vegetables and fried shrimp. All of this was nothing memorable.
I asked for spicy hot sauce which was far from being oriental stuff, as it otherwise proved to be the typical Mexican chunky dip sauce for nachos.
Too bad the former Capitol has gone.