All eyes will turn to Turin this weekend as it hosts the biggest live music event in the world. The city is often described as 'underrated', and with its fascinating history and culture, diverse architecture, and the most heavenly cuisine, we think it's time this Italian hub gets the attention it deserves. Here's Wanderlust's reasons for booking your trip to this year's Eurovision host...
Did you know Turin was the first capital of Italy? In the mid 1800s it gained its reputation as an industrial powerhouse. But now, it’s become much more of a culture hub, protecting and preserving some of its most fascinating architectural designs. For instance, the Santuario della Consolata is a beautiful church, first constructed in the 10th century, and the Royal Palace of Turin is the historic residence for the House of Savoy. Turin’s baroque square of Piazza Castello is a stunning centrepiece for the city, with a selection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings, shops and cafes dotted around. In recognition of these wonderful buildings, Turin was awarded UNESCO’s 'City of Design' in 2014.
Of course, we haven't forgotten the Mole Antonelliana. The 19th-century spire-topped monument is known as the symbol of Turin, and now houses the interactive National Cinema Museum. Turin has more than 40 museums across its city, with other must-visits including the Egyptian Museum, best known for its important archaeological finds, and the Automobile Museum, a nod to the city’s fascinating car heritage.
The art scene is huge in Turin, too. Head to the GAM - Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art to see more than 45,000 works of sculptures, paintings and installations. Contemporary art is also celebrated every November at the annual Artissima Art Fair. And finally, the Palazzo Madama is a striking building housing a great collection of paintings from the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque period.
Sitting at the foot of a hillside with 320km of tree-lined avenues and encircled by the River Po and its tributaries, Turin has some of the best green spaces to escape to for a breath of fresh air in the city. Within the Po Valley and the Torino Hills, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, there’s an extensive network of trails for walking, running and cycling. For those looking for a space to relax, there's large parks dotted around the city including Valentino Park and the Royal Gardens. Travel a few kilometres outside of Turin to visit Mandria Park, a large nature reserve home to several wild animal species.
Northern Italy is a foodie’s secret paradise, but most may skip Turin to visit hotspots like Milan. This is a mistake, as Turin offers the best of Italian food at its traditional restaurants, historical cafes, buzzing markets, gelato parlours and wine bars. Visit Baratti & Milano for a taste of history in this spectacular coffee shop, where the hot chocolate is rated highly. In fact, Turin and the region of Piedmont are considered the largest Italian centres for chocolate production, with the city being the home of the chocolate/hazelnut combination (known as gianduja). It’s no wonder it’s also where Nutella was born!
Haven’t tried Barolo wine yet? Head an hour out of the city to visit Le Langhe for a taste of this intense red straight from its origins, and complete the experience with a board of locally made cheese. The rolling hills are topped with ancient castles and medieval towns making for a magical day out in the Italian countryside.
Of course, it seems only right to also explore the Alps. A day trip to Ceresole is a fabulous place to embrace the great outdoors, with hiking trails surrounded by snow-capped peaks and enchanting lakes.
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