Explore History in Turin
Brisk fall days are perfect for exploring Turin’s rich culture, history, arts, and myths in one of the countless museums and other exhibitions that the city has to offer.
Turin was the first capital of the reunited Kingdom of Italy and is the “Hollywood of Italy,” the cradle of the Slow Food Movement, and the home of Fiat. Don’t forget about the Arte Povera, which is a contemporary art style born in Turin, and the Black and White Magic Triangles that are said to cross in the city center.
As the days get colder, I’d like to take you on a full-day Museum excursion to experience Turin’s cultural heritage.
Part of the Lingotto building hosts the Pinacoteca Agnelli, designed by Renzo Piano, which permanently showcases masterpieces from the Fiat founders’ private art collection including works of Picasso, Renoir, and Manet. From the gallery, you also get access to the former Fiat rooftop test track, which, even after several renovations of the building, remained in the original state. It’s impressive to imagine the first Fiat cars in the 1930s racing the 1.8 km circuit on the roof to be approved before shipped.
From here, we continue to discover the history of the automotive at the Museo dell’Automobile, just a ten-minute walk from the hotel, a must-see for car enthusiasts. On three floors, you are taken on an all-senses journey from the first steam vehicles, vintage cars, solar prototypes, and even F1 bolides. Take a tour with one of the enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides, which takes around 1.5 hours.
Within a ten-minute metro ride, we arrive at the historical city center of Turin. From far, you can spot the 168-meter high iconic landmark, the Mole Antonelliana, originally built in 1863 as a synagogue, and today is home to the National Museum of Cinema. Follow the corkscrew stairs up five floors to the exhibition area where you can dive into the history of cinema starting with the earliest versions, the shadow games, to the most spectacular effects of today’s Hollywood industry. Book a ride with the glass elevator that takes you from the ground floor through the exhibition space up to a viewing platform from where you can enjoy a fascinating panorama all over Turin and to the Alps.
Next on our list, and just a short walk through the charming Piazzas of Turin, is the second-largest Egyptian Museum in the world, second to the one in Cairo. The museum was founded in 1824 by King Carlo Felice after several Italian archaeological excavation missions. By that time, findings were still divided between the excavator and Egypt. It’s a fascinating collection of sculptures, tombs, and even a mummy. The English audio guide helps you understand and learn the most during your visit in approximately 1.5 hours.
Let’s jump from the ancient Egyptians to the early 1900s and the beginning of contemporary art movements in the country. Turin was a main stage for the Arte Povera, literally “Poor Arts,” at the end of the 1960s, where the trend was to return to simple, daily-life objects and messages. Every year in November, Turin celebrates contemporary artists with an international exhibition called Artissima. If you are not in town during this particular weekend, I recommend you visit the GAM Torino, Italy’s first public collection of modern art, containing masterpieces of Divisionism, Futurism and Arte Povera. It is the place to admire and interpret modern, young, international contemporary art, along with many temporary exhibitions and art events.
Last but not least, Turin is known as the “Paris of Italy.” Since it was the first capital of the reunited Kingdom of Italy, as you walk through the city center, you can still admire wide open places, stunning palaces, and arch-covered roads of this pompous era. Don’t miss the Royal Palace of Venaria, which is slightly outside of Turin, but easily reachable by car or bus. The palace is an architectural and landscape masterpiece that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. It’s also one of the least-known, most Instagrammable places I have ever seen!
You might feel in Turin you could even spend another few days discovering the hidden treasures of culture, history, and fine arts. You are right – there is so much more to see! Just get the Torino & Piemonte Card for up to five consecutive days and get free admission to more than 80 cultural sites. You will find thousands of reasons to explore ancient history and reward your curiosity – you will fall in love with Turin.