Be­tween ho­li­ness and es­o­teri­cism

The Gran Madre di Dio, un­ques­tion­ably in­spired by the Pan­theon in Rome, is - amidst faith and mythol­ogy, black magic and di­vine be­liefs - one of the most in­trigu­ing churches in Turin. By

Where Turin - - SIGHTSEEIN­G | MUSEUMS & ATTRACTION­S - Chiara Zac­carelli

The tour of the Gran Madre starts from a dis­tance. You can en­joy one of the most spec­tac­u­lar and pic­turesque panora­mas of Turin, as you grad­u­ally ap­proach it from pi­azza Vit­to­rio Veneto and cross over the Ponte Vit­to­rio Emanuele I, with a view of the church, lo­cated on the right bank of the Po river, framed by Monte dei Cap­puc­cini. The Gran Madre, boast­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tic shape of a neo- clas­si­cal tem­ple, was built in the style of the Pan­theon in Rome, and is one of the most im­por­tant places of Catholic wor­ship in Turin. The church, which was com­mis­sioned by the De­cu­ri­ons to cel­e­brate the re­turn of Vit­to­rio Emanuele I of Savoy, af­ter the de­feat of Napoleon in 1814, was in­au­gu­rated in 1831.

The am­bigu­ous ap­peal of this church is re­in­forced by var­i­ous le­gends. It ap­pears that the church was built in the place where sev­eral cen­turies ago, a tem­ple ded­i­cated to the god­dess Isis, also known as the “Gran Madre” (Great Mother), once stood. Isis, the bride of Osiris, was the god­dess of fer­til­ity, magic and the af­ter­life. So given the lat­ter, it is per­haps not sim­ply by chance that the church also hosts the Os­suary of the Fallen of the First World War. Some also claim that this church is yet an­other se­cret repos­i­tory for the Holy Grail, and the statue of a woman rep­re­sent­ing Faith, stand­ing on one side of the stair­way, is thought to be point­ing to the place where the chal­ice is buried. In­side, the sculp­tural works are par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy, as is the dome, a mas­ter­piece of Pied­mon­tese neo- clas­si­cism, char­ac­ter­ized by five or­ders of oc­tag­o­nal ceiling cof­fers, built en­tirely in re­in­forced con­crete, ter­mi­nat­ing with a cir­cu­lar ocu­lus mea­sur­ing over three me­ters in di­am­e­ter, through which the sun­light fil­ters.

>> Pi­azza Gran Madre di Dio, 4. Map I6

Al­lianz Ju­ven­tus Sta­dium

De­signed to host up to 41,507 spec­ta­tors, the Al­lianz Sta­dium is the sixth largest sta­dium in Italy and the largest in Pied­mont. Bet­ter known as the Ju­ven­tus Sta­dium, it is owned by the Ju­ven­tus Foot­ball Club whose home matches have been played here since 2011, the year when the fa­cil­ity was opened. One of the most avant- garde, eco­com­pat­i­ble fa­cil­i­ties in the world, in ad­di­tion to be­ing one of the two ar­chi­tec­tural sym­bols of mod­ern- day Turin, the Sta­dium is one of the city’s ma­jor hubs of tourist at­trac­tion. The com­plex also houses Area 12, a shop­ping mall fea­tur­ing a hy­per­mar­ket, shops and sev­eral restau­rants. The J- Mu­seum, the first of­fi­cial foot­ball mu­seum of the ‘ bian­con­era’ team is hosted in­side the east area. www.ju­ven­tus.com/it/sta­dium- e-mu­seum. Corso Gae­tano Scirea, 50. T: 899 999897. Off Map

Basil­ica di Superga

Com­mis­sioned by Vit­to­rio Amedeo II as a thanks­giv­ing to the Vir­gin Mary for Turin’s de­liv­er­ance from the French siege of 1706, the Basil­ica is one of the many mas­ter­pieces by ar­chi­tect Filippo Ju­varra, who de­signed it ac­cord­ing to the style of the era with a colon­naded por­tico, clois­ters (the build­ing still houses a fri­ars’ con­vent) and a dome. Sit­u­ated on one of the hills sur­round­ing Turin and framed by the Alpine moun­tain range, the Basil­ica dom­i­nates the city and offers vis­i­tors a breathtaki­ng view that is even more stun­ning when viewed from the top of the dome (131 steps). Af­ter vis­it­ing the tombs of the Savoy fam­ily, the Popes’ cham­ber and the royal apart­ments, you can walk around the build­ing to see the memo­rial that pays tribute to the ‘Grande Torino’. In 1949, a plane car­ry­ing the en­tire Turin foot­ball team on their re­turn from an away match crashed into the side of the church, killing all on board. Al­though the Basil­ica can be reached by car or pub­lic trans­port, one of the most pic­turesque ways of ac­cess­ing it is by the Rack Tramway, an orig­i­nal 1934 tram which rattles the 3km up the hill­side. Strada Basil­ica di Superga, 73.

T: 011 8997456. Tramway: Pi­azza Mo­dena, 6.

Off Map

Castello di Rivoli - Museo d’Arte Con­tem­po­ranea

The head­quar­ters of Turin’s Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art since 1984, the Castello di Rivoli, a mas­ter­piece of Baroque art de­signed by Filippo Ju­varra in 1718, is lo­cated out­side the city, at the en­trance to Val di Susa. The mu­seum offers a rich col­lec­tion of works documentin­g the lat­est artis­tic trends. High­lights in­clude works by Sol Le­witt, Richard Long, Michelan­gelo Pis­to­letto, Transa­van­guardia, Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan, Vanessa Beecroft, as well as new gen­er­a­tion artists. Open Tues- Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm. Closed on Mon­day, 1 Jan­uary, 1 May, 24-25 and 31 De­cem­ber. Full ticket price: €8.50. www.castel­lodirivoli.org. Pi­azza Mafalda di Savoia, Rivoli. T: 011 9565280. Off Map

GAM - Gal­le­ria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Con­tem­po­ranea

GAM boasts an ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion of 45,000 works by renowned 19th and 20th- cen­tury Ital­ian and Euro­pean artists, in­clud­ing Balla, Sev­erini Boc­cioni, De Chirico, Dix, Ernst and Klee. High­lights in­clude paint­ings, sculp­tures, draw­ings, in­stal­la­tions, videos and pho­tos, plus one of the most im­por­tant col­lec­tions of video art. In ad­di­tion to the above, this must-visit mu­seum offers a fab­u­lous pro­gram of ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tions by Ital­ian and in­ter­na­tional artists. The Art Li­brary and the Pho­to­graphic Ar­chives of Turin’s Civic Mu­se­ums are head­quar­tered at GAM. Open Tues-Sun 10am- 6pm. Closed on Mon­day. Mu­seum full ticket price: €10. www.gam­torino.it. Via Ma­genta, 31. T: 011 4429518. Map C5

J-Mu­seum (Ju­ven­tus Mu­seum)

Lo­cated in the Al­lianz Sta­dium com­plex, in the north­west­ern area of Turin, the J- Mu­seum is ded­i­cated to the his­tory and tri­umphs of the Ju­ven­tus Foot­ball Club. Opened in 2012, it is one of the world’s best and most in­no­va­tive sports mu­se­ums. State- of the-art tech­nol­ogy, mem­o­ra­bilia and an adrenalin-filled at­mos­phere of­fer fans a unique, mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence. By pur­chas­ing a com­bined Mu­seum and Sta­dium Tour ticket you can also visit sev­eral ar­eas of the Al­lianz Sta­dium that are gen­er­ally off-lim­its to the pub­lic. Open from 16 Septem­ber to 15 March, Mon- Fri 10.30am- 6pm; SatSun and Holy­days 10.30am-7.30pm. Closed on 25 De­cem­ber and ev­ery Tues­day (un­less match­day). The ticket of­fice closes one hours be­fore the mu­seum. Match­day open­ing hours: see of­fi­cial site. Full ticket price: €15. www.ju­ven­tus.com/it/sta­di­ume-mu­seum. Via Dru­ento 153. T: 011 4530486.

Off Map

Lingotto

This com­plex of cream coloured con­crete and glass build­ings, built in 1916, based on a project by Matté Trucco to house the FIAT fac­tory (now FCA), still sym­bol­izes the wealth of the city. Re­con­verted by Renzo Piano in the 1980s, it now hosts the pavil­ions of Lingotto Fiere, the head­quar­ters of ma­jor events in­clud­ing Au­to­mo­toretrò (www.au­to­mo­toretro. it) and the In­ter­na­tional Book Fair; the ‘8 Gallery’ shop­ping mall, where you can ad­mire the spi­ral ramp that leads to the au­to­drome (www.8gallery. it) and the ‘Pi­na­coteca Gio­vanni e Marella Agnelli’, a small art gallery packed with mas­ter­pieces. On ex­it­ing the Pi­na­coteca you can visit the rooftop test track and ad­mire the ‘Bolla’, the bub­ble- shaped, blue glass meet­ing room. The old Carpano plants, ly­ing ad­ja­cent to the Lingotto com­plex, are now oc­cu­pied by ‘Eataly’s’ vast food mar­ket. (www.eataly. net). Lingotto: Via Nizza, 294. Off Map

Mole Antonellia­na

The Mole has been an ar­chi­tec­tural land­mark of the city since 1889. Named af­ter its cre­ator, ar­chi­tect Alessan­dro An­tonelli, the Mole was pur­chased by the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Turin and made into a mon­u­ment of na­tional unity. At the time of its con­struc­tion it was the high­est brick build­ing in Europe, stand­ing at a height of 167 me­tres. Built ac­cord­ing to eclec­tic 19th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­tural tech­niques, the Mole rises through lay­ers of win­dows and pseu­doGreek col­umns to a huge ribbed cupola and a needle­like spire. On the top, a twelve- pointed star is sil­hou­et­ted against the Turi­nese sky­line. In­side, a panoramic, glass el­e­va­tor takes vis­i­tors on a ride through the roof of the mu­seum’s vast atrium and up 85 me­tres in­side the tower to the 360- de­gree ob­ser­va­tion plat­form at the top of the cupola. The view of Turin and its sur­round­ing Alpine range is ab­so­lutely spec­tac­u­lar. Vis­i­tors can also ac­cess the panoramic deck on foot by climb­ing the 573 steps lo­cated in­side the cav­ity of the cupola ( by reser­va­tion from Mon­day to Friday, and with­out reser­va­tion on Satur­days, Sun­days and pub­lic hol­i­days). Since 2000, the Mole Antonellia­na has hosted the Na­tional Mu­seum of Cin­ema. Via Mon­te­bello, 20. T: 011 8138563.

Map H4

Musei Reali

In 2014, in- depth restora­tions al­lowed all the build­ings in the com­plex, the Royal Palace, the Ar­moury, the Royal Li­brary, the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Mu­seum, the Savoy Gallery, Palazzo Chi­ablese and, lastly, the Royal Gar­dens to be con­nected. Vis­i­tors are now able en­joy a unique mu­seum tour, com­pris­ing a 3km route spread over 30,000 sq.m. of exhibition space and 7 hectares of Royal Gar­dens. The ori­gins of the Royal Mu­se­ums date back to 1563, when Duke Emanuele Filib­erto of Savoy moved the cap­i­tal from Cham­béry to Turin. This marked the be­gin­ning of a ma­jor ur­ban trans­for­ma­tion and the en­rich­ment of the dy­nas­tic col­lec­tions, which now in­clude ar­ti­facts dat­ing from the pre­his­toric era to the present time. Be­tween the 17th and 18th cen­turies, the ap­pear­ance of the res­i­dence, with the im­pos­ing Royal Palace at its cen­tre, was ex­panded and changed, thanks to the work of sev­eral of the era’s most il­lus­tri­ous ar­chi­tects. A Savoy Res­i­dence un­til 1865, the Royal Mu­se­ums are now owned by the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment. On- site ameni­ties in­clude a food court in the for­mer Re­gia Frut­te­ria. www.mu­seire­ali.beni­cul­tur­ali.it. Pi­azzetta Reale, 1. Map F3

Museo della Sin­done

Housed in the crypt of the church of SS. Su­dario, this fas­ci­nat­ing mu­seum doc­u­ments one of the most stud­ied ob­jects in hu­man his­tory: the Sin­done, the fa­mous ‘Holy Shroud’ a linen cloth which ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion Christ was wrapped in when de­posed from the cross. The mu­seum pro­vides vis­i­tors with in­for­ma­tion about its prove­nance and his­tory (from the se­cond half of the 5th cen­tury when it be­came the prop­erty of the House of Savoy), as well as the var­i­ous the­o­ries and mys­ter­ies sur­round­ing it. Other high­lights in­clude the ob­jects and paint­ings dis­played dur­ing Pub­lic Osten­sions (cycli­cal show­ings of the Shroud). Open daily 9am- Noon, 3pm-7pm. Full ticket price: € 6. www.sin­done.it/ museo. Chiesa del SS. Su­dario, via San Domenico, 28. T: 011 4365832. Map E2

Museo Egizio

Turin’s Egyp­tian Mu­seum is the old­est Egyp­tian mu­seum in the world and the se­cond in terms of the value and qual­ity of its trea­sures out­side of Cairo. It was founded in 1824, when king Carlo Felice of Savoy pur­chased the col­lec­tion from art ex­pert Bernardino Drovetti. It is housed in­side the his­toric Palazzo dell’Ac­cademia delle Scienze, built in the 17th cen­tury by ar­chi­tect Guar­ino Guar­ini. In 2006, dur­ing Turin’s Win­ter Olympics, the mu­seum was re-mod­elled by Os­car-win­ning set de­signer Dante Fer­retti. The exhibition space is spread over five floors and houses more than 37,000 ar­ti­facts rang­ing from the Pa­le­olithic to the Cop­tic era. The ar­chae­ol­o­gist and Egyp­tol­o­gist Jean- François Cham­pol­lion once said: ‘the road to Mem­phis and Thebes passes through Turin’. Make sure to arm your­self with an au­dio guide: it’s free and en­ables you to tai­lor the itin­er­ary of your visit ac­cord­ing to your re­quire­ments. Open Tues-Sun 9am- 6.30pm, Mon 9am-2pm. Full ticket price: €15. www.museoe­gizio.it. Via Ac­cademia delle Scienze, 6. T: 011 4406903. Map F4

Museo Lavazza

Lavazza is one of the most fa­mous and old­est brands of Ital­ian cof­fee. Dur­ing its 120 years in the in­dus­try, it has marked the his­tory of Italy’s cof­fee cul­ture with ad­ver­tise­ments and celebri­ties that have be­come an integral part of its pub­lic im­age. The mu­seum uses a cir­cu­lar route to fo­cus on its cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tions and fa­mous ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns and to ex­plore ev­ery­thing re­lated to Lavazza’s his­tory and cof­fee pro­duc­tion. In or­der to ac­cess the mu­seum’s nu­mer­ous in­ter­ac­tive sec­tions, vis­i­tors are pro­vided with a Lavazza espresso cup at the en­trance. This iconic ob­ject is de­signed to ac­ti­vate the in­stal­la­tions and unlock mul­ti­me­dia con­tent across the mu­seum. Open Wed-Sun 10am- 6pm (last ad­mis­sion 5.30pm). Closed on 15 Au­gust. Full ticket price: 10 €. museo. lavazza.com. Via Bologna, 32A. T: 011 2179621.

Map H1

Museo Nazionale del Cin­ema

The Na­tional Mu­seum of Cin­ema, housed in the Mole Antonellia­na, is one of the world’s most im­por­tant film mu­se­ums. Fea­tur­ing a unique, ver­ti­cal lay­out, this ‘tem­ple of cin­ema’ spi­rals up­wards through sev­eral exhibition lev­els, cre­at­ing a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of its ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tions through an evoca­tive, in­ter­ac­tive itin­er­ary. In ad­di­tion to a vast film li­brary con­tain­ing more than 7,000 ti­tles, the mu­seum offers col­lec­tions ded­i­cated to the ar­chae­ol­ogy of cin­ema, the ‘Aula del Tem­pio’ ( Tem­ple Room), the fo­cal heart of the mu­seum, with ar­eas ded­i­cated to the great gen­res of cin­e­matic his­tory. Don’t miss the ‘Rampa’ (the Ramp) which, like a movie, un­folds to re­veal the dome, of­fer­ing a breathtaki­ng view over the mu­seum from above, the ‘Macchina del Cin­ema’ (the Movie Ma­chine), an area ded­i­cated to the film in­dus­try and the ‘Gal­le­ria dei Man­i­festi’ (the Poster Gallery). Open 9am- 8pm, Sat 9am11pm. Closed on Tues www.museocin­ema.it. Mole Antonellia­na. Via Mon­te­bello, 20. T: 011 8138560- 011 8138561.

Map H4

OGR-Of­ficine Grandi Ri­parazioni

From a for­mer rail re­pair work­shop to a new hub of con­tem­po­rary cul­ture and in­no­va­tion. Opened in 2017, fol­low­ing a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion, this ma­jes­tic, late 19th cen­tury in­dus­trial com­plex in the heart of Turin has be­come a meet­ing place for con­tem­po­rary cul­ture. The venue hosts a rich pro­gram of ex­hi­bi­tions, per­for­mances, con­certs – both clas­si­cal and elec­tronic – as well as events ded­i­cated to theatre, dance and the per­form­ing arts. Other ini­tia­tives in­clude work­shops, start- ups and pre­sen­ta­tions. Open Thurs-Sun 11am-7pm; Fri 11am8pm. www.ogr­torino.it. Corso Castelfi­dardo, 22. T: 011 4365832. Map G4

Parco del Valentino

Lo­cated on the banks of the River Po, this is the city’s largest and most pop­u­lar park. Spread over a sur­face area of 550,000 sq.m, the park’s in­te­rior houses nu­mer­ous trea­sures in­clud­ing the Castello del Valentino, a UNESCO world her­itage site, now home to the Po­litec­nico di Torino’s fac­ulty of ar­chi­tec­ture; the Me­dieval Vil­lage and Cas­tle, faith­ful 19th cen­tury re­con­struc­tions based on the model of Pied­mont and Val­dostano cas­tles, and the Botan­i­cal Gar­dens, es­tab­lished in 1729 for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses and open to the pub­lic since 1995. Tac­tile tours of the fa­cil­ity for blind or par­tially sighted vis­i­tors are also avail­able. Start­ing from Ponte Um­berto I, you can walk or cy­cle along the river, or stroll along the park’s paths. The park is al­ways open, but the Castello del Valentino is not open to the pub­lic. The Botan­i­cal Gar­dens can be vis­ited from mid- April to mid- Oc­to­ber. To­gether with the Reggia di Venaria, Villa della Regina, Castello di Mon­calieri, Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi and Castello di Rivoli, the Castello del Valentino is a part of

the cir­cuit of the Royal Res­i­dences of Turin and Pied­mont, a UNESCO world her­itage site (www. res­i­den­z­e­re­ali.it). The park some­times hosts events such as ‘ Terra Madre-Salone del Gusto’ ( Mother Earth Tast­ing Fes­ti­val www.sa­lonedel­gusto.com or the ‘ Salone dell’Au­to­mo­bile’ ( Turin Car Show) www.par­co­valentino.com. Park: Corso Mas­simo D’Azeglio / Valentino Cas­tle: Viale Mat­ti­oli, 39 / Town and Me­dieval Cas­tle: Viale Vir­gilio, 107 / Botan­i­cal Gar­dens: Viale Mat­ti­oli, 25. Map G7

Pi­azza San Carlo

Also known as ‘ the draw­ing room’ of the city, pi­azza San Carlo was com­mis­sioned by Marie Chris­tine of France in true Parisian style. It is a rec­tan­gle of per­fect pro­por­tions with an eques­trian statue – the so- called ‘Caval’d Brons’ - of Duke Emanuele Filib­erto of Savoy at its cen­tre and on its south­ern side, fac­ing the Porta Nuova Sta­tion, a twin pair of Baroque churches, San Carlo and Santa Christina. The for­mer was built in 1639 based on a project by ar­chi­tect Amedeo di Castel­la­m­onte, while build­ing on the lat­ter be­gan in 1619 ( its façade was de­signed by Ju­varra and dates back to 1715). Pi­azza San Carlo is flanked by seem­ingly end­less el­e­gant por­ti­coes hous­ing big- name fash­ion bou­tiques. The square is lo­cated in the mid­dle of the partly pedes­tri­an­ized ar­te­rial road of via Roma which, with its ar­caded shops and cafés, con­nects the Sta­tion of Porta Nuova to pi­azza Castello. Pi­azza San Carlo is home to sev­eral of the city’s best- known cafés and pas­try shops. Make sure to try the blends on of­fer at Caffè San Carlo, the pas­tries of Caffè Torino or the choco­lates and can­dies of Stratta. Map F4

Pi­na­coteca Gio­vanni e Marella Agnelli

Archis­tar Renzo Piano de­signed what he re­ferred to as a ‘trea­sure trove’, a cap­ti­vat­ing space lo­cated on the rooftop of Turin’s Lingotto build­ing, for­merly the head­quar­ters of the first Fiat (now FCA) au­to­mo­tive fac­tory. This in­ti­mate gallery hosts a per­ma­nent exhibition show­cas­ing the per­sonal col­lec­tion of late Fiat head Gio­vanni Agnelli and his wife Marella. Here you can ad­mire a unique col­lec­tion of seven paint­ings by Matisse, a 1913 paint­ing by Balla ded­i­cated to the theme of speed, as well as mas­ter­pieces by Sev­erini, Modigliani and Tiepolo. The col­lec­tion also in­cludes works by Canaletto, Bel­lotto, Pi­casso, Renoir, Manet and Cano. Open Tues-Sun 10am-7pm ( last en­trance 6.15pm). Closed on Mon­day and on 24 and 25 De­cem­ber. Open 10am-3pm on 31 De­cem­ber and 3pm-7pm on 1 Jan­uary. Full ticket price (Per­ma­nent Col­lec­tion + Tem­po­rary Exhibition): €10. www. pi­na­coteca-agnelli.it. En­trance: Lingotto ‘ 8 Gallery’. Via Nizza, 230/103. T: 011 0062713. Off Map

Teatro Re­gio

Com­mis­sioned by Vit­to­rio Amedeo II and de­signed by Filippo Ju­varra, the Teatro Re­gio was in­au­gu­rated in 1740. De­stroyed by a fire in 1936, and re­built in 1973 by Turi­nese ar­chi­tect Carlo Mollino, the only part of the orig­i­nal build­ing that still re­mains is its façade, now a UNESCO world her­itage site. Its un­usual gated ac­cess from Pi­azza Castello, a ‘ bronze gate’ named Odis­sea Mu­si­cale ( Mu­si­cal Odyssey) is a work by fa­mous artist- sculp­tor Um­berto Mas­troianni. The Re­gio is one of the most im­por­tant Ital­ian the­atres on the Euro­pean scene, and offers an ac­tion- packed pro­gram of opera, bal­let, sym­phony con­certs and other cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties. www.teatrore­gio.torino.it. Pi­azza Castello, 215. T: 011 88151. Map F3/G3

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