48 Hours In Turin
Located in the foothills of the Alps, with mountains providing a dramatic backdrop to the city, Turin has a thriving arts culture and up and coming culinary scene - with craft beer breweries and restaurants specialising in vegan food springing up.
A Little History Of Turin
In the 16th century, Turin was the Seat of the House of Savoy and the part of the historical centre that was built during this time is on the World Heritage list. It was also the first capital city of unified Italy between 1861 and 1865 and is known as the ‘cradle of Italian liberty’ for the part it played in the unification of the country.
Turin has a reputation as an industrious part of Italy - it’s home to a large portion of the Italian car industry with the headquarters of Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo all located there. It was also the birthplace of Italian cinema and has a long history in chocolate production - Gianduja, an 18th-century chocolate and hazelnut paste thought to be the inspiration behind Nutella, was invented there. Delicious!
Start your first morning in Turin with a leisurely walk round the city’s historic centre to get your bearings. A combination of architectural styles are evident and you can see influences from other European cities, particularly Paris and Vienna, in Turin’s numerous squares and boulevards. While you’re wandering, be sure to see Piazza San Carlo which is home to a spectacular bronze statue of Emmanuel Philibert, an Italian Duke depicted on horseback after battle. On this pedestrianised square there are also two of Turin’s oldest cafes - Caffe Torino and Caffe San Carlo which are ideally located should you require a coffee break.
Also worth seeing is Piazza Castello. Regarded as the heart of the city, this partially pedestrianised square is where you’ll find several important buildings, including Palazzo Reale (the former Savoy Royal House) and the Royal Library of Turin. Whilst wandering, look out for the portico (covered walkways) which are found all over the city. They were originally built so that the nobility could take long walks whilst being protected from the elements.
Those wanting to indulge in some retail therapy should visit Via Roma where you’ll find a selection of upmarket shops.
For lunch, Da Cianci Piola Caffé is a small, traditional piola (Piedmontese dialect for casual, inexpensive eatery) with a reputation for excellent, seasonal food from a small, regularly changing, good value menu. Such is it’s notoriety, it’s often hard to get a table, so arrive a few minutes before it opens to stand the best chance.
After lunch head for Mole Antonelliana, a major landmark which dominates Turin’s skyline. Originally built as a synagogue, the building’s 167-metre aluminium spire appears on the Italian two-cent coin and was the emblem of the 2006 Winter Olympics. For stunning panoramic views, take the lift up to the outdoor viewing deck. Once you’re back on solid ground, the building houses the National Museum of Cinema which takes visitors on a tour of the history of cinema.
For dinner Porto di Savona, Turin’s oldest restaurant is a must-visit. It opened in 1861 and has been serving dishes from around the region ever since. Be sure to check out the ever-changing dishes of the day whilst enjoying the warm, 19th-century taverna decor.
For your second morning enjoy a leisurely Italian breakfast before going to Museo Egizio. This museum houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian artefacts in the world and is the only one outside Cairo solely dedicated to Ancient Egypt. With permanent collections and changing exhibits, it’s well worth the 13 euro entry fee.
For an authentic taste of Turin, you need to try a Bicerin. Made by layering espresso, chocolate and milk in a glass, Bicerin was invented in Turin in the 18th century. Today, the best place to try some is in Caffe al Bicerin where you can sit at the original oak tables where legend has it both Nietzche and Puccini enjoyed their drinks.
For a different slice of Turin’s culture, spend the afternoon taking a tour of the home of Italy’s most successful football team Juventus. Allianz Stadium can be reached by bus or metro and once there you can tour the grounds and learn about the club’s history in their museum.
Lovers of Italian food should pay Eataly a visit. Established in 2007, Eataly is a huge food emporium dedicated to Italian cuisine. Spend some time wandering it’s aisles and picking up a few souvenirs before having an informal dinner in one of the many cafes and restaurants within this former factory.
Where to stay
Hotel Roma e Rocco Cavour is ideally positioned opposite Turin’s train station and close to a metro stop. Managed by the same family since 1854, this hotel offers a range of reasonably priced room options to suit different budgets.
Hotel Victoria is located within Turin’s historic centre, just a short walk from some of the cities main sights. This hotel boasts elegant, luxurious rooms that wouldn’t be out of place in an English country house, a generous breakfast buffet and one of the best spas in Turin.
Hotel Torino Porta Susa is a more budget-friendly offering in the heart of the city. It has great guest reviews and various room options.
Turin is an Italian city often overshadowed by some of it’s more well-known rivals. But with stunning architecture, a great food scene, far fewer tourists and enough culture to keep even the most enthusiastic mini-breaker busy, we think it’s earned its place as a great choice for your next True Italian Adventure.