THE MAGIC OF CHRIST­MAS

Dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, the city of the Savoys is trans­formed into an en­chanted place, amidst lu­mi­nous art­works, ar­ti­sanal na­tiv­ity scenes, mar­kets, magic shows and con­certs.

Where Turin - - CONTENTS - BY CHIARA ZAC­CARELLI Chiara Zac­carelli Travel Ed­i­tor ® Where Italia

Dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, the city of Turin is trans­formed into an en­chan­tic place.

In Novem­ber, the fes­tiv­i­ties in Turin get off to a mag­i­cal start when the ‘Luci d’Artista’ are switched on. For the past twenty two years, th­ese mag­nif­i­cent lu­mi­nous art­works have lit up the city of the Savoys, an­tic­i­pat­ing the an­nual Christ­mas events by about a month. On 1 De­cem­ber, with the light­ing of the huge Christ­mas tree in pi­azza Castello, ‘Un Natale coi Fioc­chi’, the ac­tion-packed pro­gramme of city-wide events, kicks off. Th­ese in­clude tra­di­tional Christ­mas mar­kets, na­tiv­ity scenes, con­certs, an ad­vent cal­en­dar, multi- cul­tural events and fes­tive food and drink.

Be­low, you’ll find a de­tailed over­view of all the ac­tiv­i­ties that an­i­mate Turin dur­ing the hol­i­days.

AN OPEN-AIR MU­SEUM

From 31 Oc­to­ber to 13 Jan­uary, Luci d’Artista, an event cur­rently cel­e­brat­ing its 22nd an­niver­sary, trans­forms the city into an ope­nair mu­seum with a daz­zling dis­play of lu­mi­nous art­works lo­cated in squares and streets across Turin. A stun­ning col­lec­tive ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tur­ing Mario Airò’s ‘Cos­mome­trie’ in pi­azza Carig­nano, one of the most pic­turesque and his­tor­i­cal squares in the re­gion of Piedmont; Daniel Buren’s ‘Fly­ing Car­pet’ in pi­azza Palazzo di Città; Francesco Ca­so­rati’s ‘Flight over…’ in via Roma, Turin’s main shop­ping street; Mario Merz’s ‘ The Flight of Num­bers’ which dom­i­nates the dome of the city’s land­mark Mole Antonelliana; Gi­ulio Paolini’s ‘Palo­mar’ which il­lu­mi­nates via Po with plan­ets, satel­lites and tightrope walk­ers and Michelan­gelo Pis­to­letto’s ‘Love Dif­fer­ence’, a mes­sage of peace and tol­er­ance, aptly lo­cated in the multi-eth­nic dis­trict of Porta Palazzo.

To en­sure that you don’t miss any of the artists’ lights take a spe­cial tour on­board a CitySightseeing bus. The ‘ Luci d’artista spe­cial tour’ of­fers vis­i­tors spec­tac­u­lar views of the in­stal­la­tions scat­tered across the city. Guided tours are avail­able in English, French and Ital­ian (www.city-sightseeing.it/it/torino)

TURIN’S EN­CHANTED CHRIST­MAS

Two of Turin’s main Christ­mas at­trac­tions are hosted against the spec­tac­u­lar back­drop of pi­azza San Carlo: the Ad­vent Cal­en­dar and the Christ­mas tree. Ev­ery day, at 6pm, un­til 25 De­cem­ber, one of the cal­en­dar’s huge win­dows is opened by the fire­men of the Co­mando Provin­ciale di Torino. The cal­en­dar is a fairy­tale-like work of art cre­ated by Turin’s Teatro Regio based on sketches by renowned il­lus­tra­tor and set de­signer Emanuele Luz­zati. The open­ing of the first win­dow of the cal­en­dar co­in­cides with the light­ing of the city’s huge Christ­mas tree. An­other sym­bol of the Christ­mas hol­i­days in Turin is the Na­tiv­ity scene which has been hosted, for sev­eral years now, in Parco Valentino’s Me­dieval Vil­lage on the Po River. Built for the Ital­ian Gen­eral Ex­po­si­tion of Turin in 1884, though ini­tially des­tined for de­mo­li­tion, the Me­dieval Vil­lage be­came a civic mu­seum in 1942. This replica of a typ­i­cal late me­dieval town is based on a model of authen­tic 15th cen­tury Pied­mon­tese and Val­dostan vil­lages.

Houses, ‘palazzi’, walls, foun­tains, a draw­bridge and ar­ti­sanal ‘bot­teghe’ con­trib­ute to giv­ing vis­i­tors the il­lu­sion of a real, in­hab­ited me­dieval vil­lage. While walk­ing along the paths of the vil­lage, you’ll no­tice a scat­ter­ing of fig­urines from the na­tiv­ity scene, il­lu­mi­nated and dis­played amidst the por­ti­coes and court­yards lead­ing to Pi­azza del Mel­o­grano, where the main scene is hosted. The work, which was ex­e­cuted by the late renowned Ge­noese set de­signer Emanuele Luz­zati, com­prises 90 hand-painted wood fig­ures, in­clud­ing char­ac­ters from well­known fairy­tales for chil­dren. The na­tiv­ity scene, the me­dieval at­mos­phere of the vil­lage and the spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral back­drop of the park con­trib­ute to cre­at­ing a mag­i­cal, en­chanted at­mos­phere. The na­tiv­ity con­tin­ues to be one of the undis­puted sym­bols of Christ­mas, and is deeply rooted in Ital­ian tra­di­tion. An­other not-to-be-missed na­tiv­ity in the Pied­mon­tese cap­i­tal is the one found in the church of SS. An­nun­zi­ata, a mag­nif­i­cent ex­am­ple of neoBaroque ar­chi­tec­ture si­t­u­ated in via Po, just a short dis­tance from the Mole Antonelliana. This his­toric na­tiv­ity was built by Ital­ian set de­signer Francesco Canon­ica at the be­gin­ning of the 1900s. It com­prises more than 200 char­ac­ters, many of which were sculpted by ex­pert ar­ti­sans from Val Gar­dena, of which 100 are an­i­mated. Apro­pos en­chanted at­mos­pheres, Turin is renowned for its tra­di­tional Christ­mas mar­kets which, thanks to their dec­o­ra­tions, lights, mu­sic and aro­mas, con­jure up im­ages of tra­di­tional North­ern Euro­pean cities. At their myr­iad stalls, re­sem­bling charm­ing wooden chalets, in ad­di­tion to pur­chas­ing sou­venirs, hand­i­crafts, cloth­ing, leather goods, ceram­ics and na­tiv­ity scenes, you can sam­ple lo­cal spe­cial­ties from Piedmont and other Ital­ian re­gions. Among the largest and most pic­turesque mar­kets in Turin, the one set up in the cov­ered court­yard (Cor­tile del Maglio) of the vi­brant, multi-eth­nic Borgo Dora neigh­bour­hood, is a real Santa’s vil­lage, fea­tur­ing 80 stalls, plus four pro­jec­tors screen­ing iconic Christ­mas-themed im­ages. In by­gone days, the cov­ered square was used as a foundry to build canons for the mil­i­tary com­pex of the Arse­nale. The court­yard takes its name from the large struc­ture lo­cated at its cen­tre, a ma­chine, known as a ‘maglio’, that was used to forge and mould metal pieces. The court­yard now houses ar­ti­sanal ‘bot­teghe’, shops and cafes.

Other mar­kets can be found in pi­azza Solferino, which hosts an ice rink dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, in pi­azza Santa Rita and in pi­azza Castello, for­merly the hub of court life dur­ing the reign of the Savoys and still one of the most vi­brant ar­eas of the his­toric cen­tre.

DED­I­CATED TO MAGIC

The city’s tra­di­tional fes­tive events also in­clude nu­mer­ous ini­tia­tives as­so­ci­ated with magic, this year’s theme for ‘ Un Natale coi Fioc­chi’, fea­tur­ing an ac­tion-packed pro­gram.

The or­ga­niz­ers’ ob­jec­tive is to trans­form the Savoy city into an ‘en­chanted cas­tle’ for the whole month of De­cem­ber. Var­i­ous lo­ca­tions across the city will treat the pub­lic to sleights of hand and con­jur­ing tricks. In par­tic­u­lar, the ‘ One man show’ will be the fo­cus of the events in pi­azza San Carlo, while an ‘ Il­lu­sion­ar­ium’, an in­ter­ac­tive mu­seum fea­tur­ing the most fa­mous op­ti­cal il­lu­sions in the world, will be set up in pi­azza Solferino. Al­ter­nately, ma­gi­cians from the ‘Close-Up’ The­atre will en­ter­tain the pub­lic in pi­azza Santa Rita with per­for­mances of ta­ble magic, in­volv­ing di­rect au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion. The Cor­tile del Maglio will host a ‘Magic School’ where mas­ters spe­cial­iz­ing in the art of magic will tell sto­ries about fa­mous ma­gi­cians and teach magic tricks to chil­dren.

New Year’s Eve will also be ded­i­cated to magic, with a New Year’s Eve party in pi­azza Castello and a per­for­mance by the ‘ Mas­ters of Magic’, fea­tur­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned dancers, artists and il­lu­sion­ists.

MU­SIC ALL THE WAY

Even fans of mu­sic will be spoilt for choice. Turin’s 2018 Christ­mas pro­gram will in­clude a fab­u­lous line-up of con­certs at churches, in squares and at pe­riod ‘palazzi’. In par­tic­u­lar, the ‘ In­trecci Baroc­chi’ event takes place at sev­eral dif­fer­ent spec­tac­u­lar lo­ca­tions in the cen­tre of Turin in­clud­ing his­toric houses, re­li­gious build­ings and con­cert halls. Here, or­ches­tras, choirs, soloists and en­sem­bles will en­ter­tain au­di­ences with recitals rang­ing from some of the great­est mas­ter­pieces of mu­sic to less well-known Baroque works, in a bid to pro­mote this vast, yet of­ten un­known reper­toire of sa­cred works. The high­light of the event will be held on 15 and 18 De­cem­ber at Tem­pio Valdese, with the ex­e­cu­tion of one of the most fa­mous sa­cred com­po­si­tions of all time, Jo­hann Se­bas­tian Bach’s Christ­mas Ora­to­rio, con­ducted by Ruben Jais. Dur­ing the same pe­riod, for the third con­sec­u­tive year, ‘ Back to Bach’ re­turns to Turin with the aim of demon­strat­ing how the mu­sic by this fa­mous Ger­man com­poser can serve as in­spi­ra­tion for a wider ap­pre­ci­a­tion of dif­fer­ent types of sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ences. The 2018 edi­tion, which ends on 15 De­cem­ber, fea­tures per­for­mances by pres­ti­gious en­sem­bles and world-class soloists, plus a se­ries of more ed­u­ca­tion­ally-ori­ented ‘off-site’ events, de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the most im­por­tant Pied­mon­tese and Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions, to present Bach’s mu­sic in an in­no­va­tive and, at times, al­most ir­rev­er­ent way (www.coro­magh­ini.it).

On 19 De­cem­ber, the Teatro Colosseo and ‘ The Har­lem Spirit of Gospel Choir’ will wel­come au­di­ences to one of their le­gendary Christ­mas shows. This fab­u­lous con­cert, fea­tur­ing some of the best voices on the Amer­i­can Gospel scene, will cover a wide range of styles, rang­ing from clas­si­cal songs to the re-vis­i­ta­tion of con­tem­po­rary pieces, in a blend of in­no­va­tive, up­lift­ing sounds.

Christ­mas mar­ket in Pi­azza Castello

Christ­mas tree in Pi­azza Castello

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