What activity does one normally associate with tourism in Europe? Landmark hopping of course. Here in the regional capital of Piemonte, Torino, we do just that.
A well endowed city in the landmark department, Torino certainly does not disappoint. Setting out from our strategically positioned apartment rental steps from Piazza Castello, we took the number 15 bus toward our first landmark of the day, Basilica di Superga.
Public transportation for some visitors can be a bit intimidating, but it’s actually quite easy. Get a map of the bus routes from the tourist information office, and suddenly an entire region is within reach, not just the city center. Tickets can be purchased at any Tabacheria or newsstand, and validated once you board the bus. At least here in Torino, the busses have monitors and verbal announcements of the next stop, so you always know where you are.
Bus 15 took us through the sprawling city to the end of the line at Sassi, where we transferred to the Superga cog railway. The rail seemingly runs whenever the operators feel like it and not on any set schedule, but once full, the climb took about 20 minutes. Roundtrip tickets are 6,00€.
On a clear day (unlike our sunny but hazy Day) the panorama is truly spectacular. The entire city spread out beneath and the majestic snow covered Italian Alps as a backdrop. Today at least the weather was nice, and while we didn’t have much of a mountain view, the Basillica was well worth the visit. Classic baroque and massive Corinthian columns. From the piazza out front, the city of Torino below spreads out in all directions.
Back down the mountain, pizza for lunch, bus back to the town center. Our next Torino landmark destination is the Mole Antonelliana. Originally conceived as an epic synagogue, today it houses the Museo del Cinema, and an observation deck from its ornate spire.
Upon learning the elevator to observation deck is currently closed for “extraordinary maintenance”, we detoured through the Giardini Reali. The royal gardens today are not much to write home about, but still provide a pleasant escape from the noise of the city. Also featured in this park is a stoic monument to the Carabinieri.
Admission to the Molo Antonelliana Museo del Cinema is 10,00€. Real film buffs could easily spend an entire day exploring the contents of this museum. Covering everything from “film archeology” in its earliest forms of shadow box theater, flip book peep shows, and the development of lenses and equipment, through the silent movie era into the modern day genres we are all familiar with, this place is film historian’s dream come true. All the exhibits are interactive and hands providing a real immersive experience. The central atrium currently is showing a temporary exhibition of World War I film and photography.
Torino is also a city of Piazzas, argueably none more famous than the iconic Piazza San Carlo located halfway down the luxury shopping arcade lined Via Roma, between Torino Porta Nuova and Palazzo Reale. Enjoy a spritz and apperitivo from one of a half dozen cafes lining the square and then choose your favorite landmark shopping destination brand along Via Roma, as we did.
Obviously the landmarks of Torino are many, and although today we’ve only seen a few, this is why we’re here for three days. Stay tuned.