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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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