The city of Turin (pics) played host to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. My guidebook says that the event was very successful and brought a building boom to the city including a new Metro system. Since then they have hosted numerous conferences and exhibitions. You can see some of the results of these efforts yet an excess of graffiti seems to plague many areas.
We toured the Palazzo Reale which is the historic palace of the House of Savoy. Construction of the palace was begun in 1646 for Carlo Emanuele II. One wing of the palace has been turned into the Amory, showcasing a vast array of weaponry and suits of armor. This ticket also includes a viewing of the Sabauda Gallery which holds the art collection amassed by the Savoy monarchy over 400 years.
Right next door to Palazzo Reale is Duomo di San Giovanni, Turin’s cathedral which was built between 1491 and 1498. The cathedral is fairly unremarkable but its claim to fame is that it is home to the Shroud of Turin, alleged to be the burial cloth used to wrap Jesus’ body. Apparently, the one on display is a copy but even at that no photos are allowed.
We also checked out Turin’s outdoor food market, Porta Palazzo which is the largest such market we have seen anywhere. There are row after row of food stands with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, olives, cheeses, etc.
Our hotel was located a little south of the city center near an area of Turin known as Lingotto. In 1916, the Fiat car company began construction on a new manufacturing plant here. What they built was unusual and innovative. The building was 5 stories high with spiral ramps on each end. The raw materials entered on the ground floor and as the manufacturing process progressed the vehicle would go up to higher floors until it was completed and emerged on the roof where there is a 1 kilometer test track. When you see the building from a distance you can see the curve of the banked track on the roof at each end of the building. After the factory was closed in 1982, it was eventually purchased and redeveloped for exhibition space and a large shopping center.
Next door to the Lingotto factory building is another Turin landmark, Eataly. This is the flagship location for this high end Italian market. They sell all manner of gourmet Italian food products as well as fresh meats, cheeses, pastas, breads and produce. The store also incorporates a series of cafés serving these very same products for you to eat on-site. Eataly has grown to several locations in Italy as well as in Chicago and New York in the US.
Finally, Turin has a trademark coffee/chocolate drink called bicerin. It is made with espresso, hot chocolate and whole milk or whipped cream. We stopped in at one of Turin’s historic cafés, Café Fiorio, opened in 1780, to give it a try. Apparently, there can be several variations for bicerin but the one we tried is one of the classics, topped with whipped cream. It’s a beautiful café and a very tasty drink.