Have you ever visited someone living in a famous city so many times that you lost track of the city’s main tourist attractions? One of my closest friends lives in Turin, and my good memories there include getting to know the locals, a great bookstore on the street, the Eataly destination grocery store, and seeing a movie at the Multisala Reposi.
But while recently planning an itinerary to the city, I had to sort through my memories and decide which of the main sights to prioritize for a short visit. My Top 10 list includes five worthwhile events in the next year, and five things to do anytime.
Best 5 Events in Turin in 2009 / 2010
1) The actual Shroud of Turin will be briefly on display from April 10th to May 23rd, 2010, and then will probably go back into storage for another few years. The last time the Shroud was on display for a few weeks in 2000, it had 2 million visitors. This in a city with 3.8 million visitors in all of 2008. (Personally I want to know whether the shroud looks the same after the news came out that it was accidentally washed with a red shirt).
2) Attend the chocolate festival, CioccolaTo, scheduled for February of 2010. The area around Turin is known for chocolate, and it’s where the famous Giandiuia originated. Yum.
3) Listen to free live music at the Traffic Music Festival, ng>on from July 14th to 17th, 2010. Lots of contemporary Italian and international bands perform on outdoor stages.
4) Enjoy the free outdoor Luci D’artista contemporary art exhibit of light sculptures and installations (photo below) spread across the city from mid-November to mid-January every year. I love this exhibit: it makes the city appear magical, especailly if you’re lucky enough to see it under the snow.
#5) The International White Truffle Fair is held during the months of October and November in the nearby town of Alba. Even if you don’t go to the fair or feel like going on a truffle hunt (which involves running through the woods with dogs for several hours in the middle of the night), make sure to order something with even a tiny amount of white truffles (they’re not cheap) from a restaurant menu in Turin. Sublime.
Best Five “Anytime” Things to See & Do
1) Take the panoramic lift to the top of the symbol of Turin, the Mole Antonelliana (photo at the top of this post). The 167m building was originally commissioned as a synagogue, but during construction it was taken over by the city because of a falling out with the Jewish community over costs and construction time. It was finally completed over 100m higher than originally planned, and a year after the architect’s death, in 1889. It now houses the famous National Museum of Cinema.
2) Visit the Royal Residences in the city center, the Palazzo Reale and the Palazzo Madama, which were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997.
3) Visit the Egyptian museum, with the best collection of Egyptian art and artifacts in the world after the museum in Cairo. It’s also, impressively, one of the few things in the entire country open on the famous Italian holiday of ferragosto. So if you’re in Italy on August 15th and not up for the beach crowds, beeline it there.
4) Explore, shop, and have a coffee in Turin’s historic center, even if it’s raining: you’ll keep dry under the 18 km of covered arcades in the city.
Want more suggestions? Check out this 5-minute YouTube video on Turin: