48 hours in: Turin

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The first capital of a united Italy and the home of the Savoy dynasty offers great cuisine, excellent value and some startling cultural gems

Travel Essentials

Why go now?

Between now and Easter, this stylish city at the foot of the Alps is welcoming, uncrowded and accessible, thanks to the frequent ski flights. Turin is much more than a gateway to the mountains: it is one of Italy's great cities, offering visitors a spectrum of indulgence from high culture to rich chocolate.

Touch down

British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) and easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyJet.com) compete from Gatwick, while Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) flies from Stansted. Turin airport is 16km north-east of the city at Caselle. The fastest and cheapest way in is by train, which leaves every half-hour from the airport station and costs €3.70. Buy a ticket and cancel it at the platform entrance before boarding the train. The journey takes only 20 minutes to Stazione Dora (1) – a good 15 minutes' walk from the centre. Your rail ticket entitles you to transfer to one city bus service within 70 minutes – revalidate it on boarding.

The Sadem airport bus departs roughly every 15 minutes, with a fare of €6.50 if you buy a ticket in advance in the arrivals hall – or €7.50 if you pay the driver. The journey serves Porta Susa station (2), for the west of the city centre, and terminates at Porta Nuova station (3) about 45 minutes after leaving the airport. All three stations are undergoing substantial engineering work.

A taxi should cost €30 to most city- centre destinations.

Get your bearings

The city centre is contained within the Dora river to the north and the Po river to the east. A combination of narrow streets based on the original Roman grid, sliced through by broad avenues, makes Turin easy to navigate – as does the ever-visible wall of the Alps to the north. The city's main squares are Piazza Castello (4), an odd-shaped space part-filled with the ungainly Palazzo Madama; Piazza San Carlo (5), right in the middle; and Piazza Vittorio Veneto (6), which opens out to the Po. You can hardly move for tourist offices (00 39 011 535 181; turismotorino.org). The main bureau at Porta Nuova station (3) is temporarily shut for refurbishment, so visit instead the office on Via Milano (7) or the kiosk on Via Giuseppe Verdi (8). Standard daily opening is 9am-7pm.

Check in

Turin vies with Milan as northern Italy's leading business city. Consequently, it has lots of hotels, and an oversupply of beds at weekends – including at two particularly characterful and comfortable three-stars that offer outstanding value; rates include breakfast and the €2.30 per person, per night city tax.

The most central is the Hotel Dogano Vecchia (9) at Via Corte d'Appello 4 (00 39 011 436 6752; hoteldoganovecchia.com), an atmospheric old mansion where Mozart stayed in 1771 during one of his many European tours. Today, it feels in places as though the last Grand Tourist has only just checked out. Double rooms are in three grades, with those overlooking the street at €65; standard doubles are €85, and superior rooms €95.

The Albergo Dock Milano (10), close to Porta Susa station at Via Cernaia 46 (00 39 011 562 2622; hoteldockmilano.it), is rather more basic – reflected in a standard double rate at weekends of just €56.


Day One

Take a hike

The primary city of the House of Savoy, and the first capital of a united Italy, has some outstanding civic architecture – best appreciated with a stroll through the centre with pauses for coffee or hot chocolate. Start at the equestrian statue of Emanuele Filiberto in Piazza San Carlo (5), honouring the duke who made Turin capital of the Duchy of Savoy in 1563. Walk north between the chic boutiques flanking Via Roma to Piazza Castello (4). On the right is the velvet embrace of Baratti & Milano (11) awaits; order an espresso and stand at the counter to enjoy the opulence and sense of history for just €1.10. Glimpse the adjacent Galleria Subalpina, then walk along Via Po – a handsomely porticoed street, lined with shops (with little display cases in the pillars) and numerous cafés – such as Ciocco & Lata (12) at number 32 and Caffe Vittorio Veneto (13) just where the street opens up into the broad, cobbled piazza. Ahead stands the 19th-century church of Gran Madre di Dio (14), built to imitate the Pantheon – and featured in the film The Italian Job. Cross the river and climb the steps for a view north towards the Alps.

Take a view

For an even better perspective, climb the steep hill, the Monte di Cappuccini, just south. The church and convent of Santa Maria (15) stands at the top, while just below is a museum celebrating the mountains – and Turin as venue of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Out to lunch

Cross the river back to the centre, and find the Société Lutece (16) – whose tables spill into the wide, green Piazza Carlina (officially known as Carlo Emanuele II). This rustic brasserie (00 39 011 887 644; societe-lutece.it) has salads and pasta with a Gallic twist.

Cultural afternoon

Close by, at Via Accademia delle Scienze 6, the Museo Egizio (17) (00 39 011 561 7776; museoegizio.org) fills a 17th-century palazzo that was once a Jesuit college. Today, it is an old-school museum brimming with Egyptian artefacts. Renovations make some of the collection inaccessible, but current highlights include a statue of Tutankhamun with the god, Amun, and a hierarchy of sarcophagi. Open from 8.30am to 7.30pm daily except Monday, €7.50 (free on your birthday).

Window shopping

Via Roma and Via Garibaldi are the main shopping streets, but a more spectacular retail offering takes place at Porta Palazzo (18), a Roman gate that gives its name to a sprawling market.

An aperitif

The cosiest bar in town is probably the Caffè-Vini Emilio Ranzini (19) at Via Porta Palatina 9g (00 39 011 765 0477), which serves wine and elaborate snacks – but only until 5pm on Saturday (9.30am-8.30pm Mon-Fri); a proper Turin aperitivo experience. Any later, and you should visit the retro Caffé Nazionale (20) at Via Po 18 (00 39 011 882 140) for an apericena – order a glass of vermouth, the local drink, and tuck into the buffet, all for €7.

Dining with the locals

Ristorante Pizzeria Alla Mole (21) at Via Verdi 10 serves simple but delicious and exceptionally good value set meals costing as little as €7. The price includes a pizza, a glass of beer or wine; and an espresso to round off the feast. Opens evenings except Sunday from 7pm (and lunch from Monday to Friday).

Tre Galline (22) at Via Bellezia 37 (00 39 011 436 6553; 3galline.it) serves Piedmontese specialities such as bollito misto, a rich stew. It opens from 7.45pm for dinner, except Sundays, and on Saturdays for lunch.


Day Two

Sunday morning: go to church

Start at the Duomo (23), an austere cathedral (open 8am-12.30pm and 3-7pm) with a remarkable relic: the Shroud of Turin, which some say was used to wrap the body of Christ. The cloth is kept out of sight in a climate-controlled casket, but the story unfolds at the fascinating Museo della Sindone (24) at Via San Domenico 28 (00 39 011 436 5832; sindone.org; 9am-noon and 3-7pm daily, €6) – which explains the context and conflicting theories of the shroud. The adjacent Santo Sudario church has a replica of the shroud on show behind the altar.

For a more elaborate place of worship, plunge into the Baroque splendour of the Santuario della Consolata (25) on the piazza of the same name (00 39 011 483 6111; laconsolata.org). Chapels dripping with ornamentation orbit around an oval nave.

Out to brunch

Directly opposite, the Caffè Cioccolateria Al Bicerin (26) on the south side of the Piazza del Consolata (00 39 011 436 9325; bicerin.it; 8.30am-7.30pm daily except Weds) is a Torinese treasure dating from 1763. This tiny café is named for the city's signature drink: the bicerin (€5) is served in a wine glass, and comprises an intense, dark mix of coffee and hot chocolate beneath a layer of cream that slowly melts as you sip. While you indulge, admire the original 18th-century panelling and marble tables.

A walk in the park

Turin boasts plenty of greenery – starting in the city centre. From the Porta Palatina (27) , wander east past the remains of a Roman amphitheatre (28) through the Giardini Reali. Your target, at the far end, is the astonishing, 167m Mole Antonelliana (29) – a 19th-century folly resembling an extruded pyramid.

Take a ride ...

… in a glass elevator through thin air at the Mole Antonelliana (29) at Via Montebello 20 (00 39 011 813 8560; museonazionaledelcinema.org). In one minute flat it takes you from the basement through the vast interior to a hole in the ceiling and the viewing platform. A €12 ticket includes the intriguing National Museum of Cinema that fills the ground floor and upper chambers; open 9am-8pm daily except Mondays (Saturdays to 11pm).

Icing on the cake

Turin's passionate affair with cocoa began centuries ago, and today is indulged most exquisitely at Caffe Olsen (30) at Via Sant'Agostino 4 (00 39 011 436 1573; 9.30am-7pm) and Guido Gobino (31) at Via Lagrange 1 (00 39 011 566 0707; 10am-8pm) – either of which will transform your appreciation of chocolate.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project