by Anna Maria D’Andrea
Italy: such a small peninsula that manages to imprison so many beautiful cities, beaches, and above all ideals. This heart warming boot has become almost synonymous to these ideals. Many, when thinking of Italy, equate it to a slower paced life style, an eagerness to enjoy life, a twirl to a soft mandolin and an importance to beauty whether it be art or Italian men and women, but there is much more.
This “more” points to Torino, whom distinguishes itself among many cities because not only does it enclose all that is known to be Italian art, beauty and well good culinary wonders but it also stands out for its character. Often a forgotten site by many tourists, this is the land where many of Italy’s revolutionaries were born, first capital of Italy (yes the title did not always reside in Rome) and is of economical importance to this Mediterranean gem.
Where do you begin? Well what do you like? Torino is literally blessed with everything: religious and historical sites, great food and even better night clubs, world renowned museums, literary center and birth place of the Italian Cinema. Before engaging in this trip, you really need to sit down and list out what are your priorities and what are your preferences unless you can attempt, as many foolish tourists do, to see it all and return home even more tire than what you left.
My must sees? The Mole Antonelliana. It is at the heart of most touristic adventures as missing it is comparable to going to Paris and not at least waltzing by the tour Eiffel. Constructed in the mid 19th century, la mole is simply majestic. Nothing more, nothing less. Tall is an understatement, as it is considered to be the tallest museum in the world. Torino had early on granted freedom of religion and as a result we were blessed with this endearing synagogue now turned national cinema museum. The architecture is both simple and intricate. The clean lines well intertwined with windows somehow seem to lead you up, almost pointing to the sky. If you are not a fan of great architecture, this place should be visited should it be only for the pleasure of being witness to the most beautiful view of the city: an array of orange roof tops gently and
slowly suspended in the sky, almost gliding in it. Is that all? No. You are in the glorious east northern region of Piemonte, which entails that you are also surrounded by the breathtaking view of the royal Alps. It would almost seem as though these renowned curves are about to swallow Torino within its bosom. Honestly, it may be one the most beautiful views in Italy. And, if you are an early bird, dawn is really in la mole one of those experiences you need to add to your bucket list. A very slight and subtle orange light just caresses the mountains tops, rendering them a just a little more warm, a little more enchanting.
My next stop, as I take pleasure in pursuing royalty, is the Royal Palace. Yes, Italy has or rather had (as they are no longer recognized) a royal family: the Savoy. Exiled in the 20th century and only returned in the country as of recent, their home is living proof of their glorious past and absence. Torino having belonged temporarily to the French, the city mirrors this short allegiance to the blue, white and red with its architectural elegance. This is the case for the Royal Palace who bares resemblance to the most acclaimed of all palaces: Versailles. The elongated white wings with pick a boo eyes incur the same respect that its famous inspirer did. In fact, plan a day to visit this royal gift for the grounds are not merely composed of only a 17th century castle but also of numerous gardens, churches and parks.
The best way to enjoy such a delightful walk? Prepare a little picnic beforehand made up of some fresh paninis and prosciutto cold cuts bought at a local grocery store. You’ll eat well under ten Euros and will need the energy to visit this site. Start your morning after a sense awakening espresso and lounge in the enchanting Gallery of Diana. Imagine all the numerous balls, and aristocratic gowns that fluttered in this fresh marble room. Make your way inside room to room, absorbing everything and realizing truly that you are being graced in attending this touristic rendez-vous. Make your way to the greenest gardens, and simply get lost in them…Don’t worry you have your trust worthy panino packed up in case you get hungry.
After a good night sleep in a pension ranging at about 90 to 100 Euros (Torino is a little pricy) the world is still your oyster. It is no wonder to me why Nietzsche made of Torino his home. The great German philosopher swore by the inspiring energy this city holds and by the magnificent view of the Alps that constantly trails behind you while you stroll within its narrow streets. It’s enlightening, really. Before deciding on your next stop, whether it be the international Egyptian museum, the Palazzo Madame or one of the many baroque and rococo churches (remember you are in architectural heaven) you must indulge in one of Torino’s most renowned activities and I dare say my favourite: it’s heavenly
hot chocolate. You do need a boost of energy to pursue your day! Venture out to Piazza San Carlo and sooth your throat with the renowned hot chocolate from amongst the oldest chocolate houses: Caffe Torino. This gives the dark delight a whole new definition given that you are in one of Italy’s chocolate capitals. Sit for a while, slowly sip your guilty pleasure and admire the piazza surrounding you. Let yourself be for a few slipping moments, let it become part of you…After all “If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you” Nietzsche.