Famous for its Baroque grand cafés and architecture, wide avenues and arcaded shopping promenades, Turin is an excellent short-break destination. This is a city of café culture and sugary delights, with elegant coffee houses and bars at every turn and enticing shop windows such as those of the historic Confetteria Stratta, piled high with gold foiled gianduiotti chocolates.
Piazza San Carlo: One of the city’s most attractive locations is the Piazza San Carlo, unquestionably Turin’s loveliest square and, for many, one of the most scenic squares in Europe. Bordered by 17th century baroque facades, the equestrian statue of Emanuele Filiberto stands in the middle of the square, overlooked by the twin facades of the churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo. Stylish shops hide behind the piazza’s porticos but it is the cafés – the glittery old school San Carlo and Café Torino – that are the real draw, once frequented by politicians and artists and still a great place to linger over a triple layered (coffee, chocolate and cream) bicerin.
Cars and race tracks: At the top of the list of must-sees for any self-respecting car enthusiast is the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile, with its collection of antique and classic cars and contemporary art. Fans of The Italian Job hoping to visit the iconic rooftop test drive track at the former Fiat factory at Lingotto can still do so although the factory has now been transformed into a contemporary public space with shopping centre, theatre and art gallery.
Birds' eye views: Along with its car industry, the 167m spindly Mole Antonelliana has become a distinctive symbol of Turin. Whizz up to the 85m high outdoor viewing deck, accessible via a glass elevator, for the best views of Turin and the Alps. Now home to the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, the original plan for the tower at the time of its construction in 1862 was to use it as a synagogue.
Palaces and churches: The 17th century Palazzo Reale looks relatively unassuming from the outside but once inside, prepare to be dazzled by the state apartments and the library. There are also beautiful Royal Gardens. The Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, which is adjacent to the Palazzo Reale, is home to the Turin Shroud, reputedly the cloth that wrapped Christ in the tomb, although this goes on show only once every ten years or so.
Other highlights include hunting lodges, palaces and the Borgo Medievale, built in 1884 to represent the perceived image at the time of a medieval village, and subsequently maintained within the Parco del Valentino.
Head out of the city: A few kilometres south of Turin, the grand Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi, a former hunting lodge and one of the residences of the Royal House of Savoy, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Accommodation: The recently refurbished Turin Palace Hotel is perfectly located in the heart of Turin, just a short stroll from many of the city centre attractions.
Find out more about Turin from the Turismo Torino.