Grande, Torino! (no, not the film…)

I had a long weekend recently, so I decided to explore a new Italian city. Torino had always been on my list because of its museums and architecture, as well as its historical significance as Italy’s first capital (take that Rome!). I headed out with Blablacar and decided to try my luck with Couchsurfing as well (we were really going for a budget weekend). We were #blessed with great drivers there and back, as well as a great host family. As for transport and accommodations, we got super lucky. And as for Torino itself, what can I say other than VACCI! (go there!)

I’ll have pictures uploading soon from all my various trips, but Torino itself has lots of different eras of architecture in a small space, as well as an abundance of green urban spaces, which is always welcomed. Some highlights include:

– Museo del Cinema: a HUGE museum dedicated to the development of Italian and international film. With our ticket, we were also able to take the elevator to the top of the Mole Antonelliana, the structure in which the museum is situated. From there we had a great 360-degree view of Torino and the Po river. The museum is amazing and organized well, however it does require a bit of time; I would say at least 3 or 4 hours. If you need a break during your visit, there is a nice big room with chaise-lounges where you can put your feet up and watch a film on a one of the two big screens. We didn’t get to see all of the museum, unfortunately (though this just gives me an excuse to go back hehe).

– Balon and Porta Palazzo: Balon is a giant outdoor flea market near Porta Palazzo (another large produce market). Lots of great ethnic food in the area! Near Porta Palazzo there are also the ruins of a Roman porta or entryway, from back when Torino was a walled city. Really cool to walk through the arches, with statues of great Roman figures flanking the ruins.

– Chiesa del Gran Madre: This is a church on the other river bank that looks out over the piazza Vittorio Emanuele. It’s similar aesthetically to the Parthenon of Rome, but inside it’s pretty bland. The view (and selfie potential) from the top of the stairs, though, is awesome.

– If you have some time (i.e. one whole day) a trip to the Reggia di Venaria Reale, which is this enormous and beautifully preserved palace with surrounding gardens and royal stables, etc. This palace dates back to the Savoia family, (or even before…we rushed through the museum…) and the gardens are the definition of sprawling. On a nice, sunny day, you can eat a picnic lunch hidden away in the manicured shrubs and tan alongside the man-made river, watching the pristine swans glide by. The whole estate just leaks elegance from every angle, and, as if that weren’t enough, has a great view of the snowy Alps. Tickets can be a bit expensive, but they accept all kinds of student IDs and Ikea family cards and FrecciaCards for super discounts. The town of Venaria itself isn’t too memorable, but the Reggia deserves a visit!

Food in Torino didn’t disappoint. While we were lucky in that our hosts offered us dinner, lunch at MacBun (the local farse of McDonalds) was fantastic and worth a mention. Burgers are made from purely Piedmontese beef, with only the bare necesseties – lettuce, tomato and homemade ketchup, mayo or mustard. The potatoes are sliced thin width-wise and fried, resulting in crispy golden sheets of delicious carbohydrates.

All in all, I’m very glad I was able to see Torino before I leave Italy. It was truly the trip of a lifetime made even better by the people we met along the way.

Mole Antonelliana
Mole Antonelliana
bubbles in Piazza San Carlo
bubbles in Piazza San Carlo

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