Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Torino (Turin) is sometimes thought of as the Detroit of Italy because of it’s association with FIAT, the giant Italian car company. That is interesting enough for a totally separate post some time in the future. In any case the comparison of Torino to Detroit is a flawed one since Torino has a very long and distinguished history dating from the time of the Romans. It became one of the powerhouse regions Italy under the House of Savoy and was the cradle of the “Risorgimento” (Resurgence) which is the name of the movement in the mid nineteenth century for the unification of Italy.

Like much if not all of Italy, Torino and Piemonte in general were under foreign domination at one time or another, notably the French. Perhaps this explains why the city looks so much more French than Italian. There are broad boulevards and baroque palaces. An impressive example is the expansive but somewhat austere Royal Palace of Turin.

One very curious building there is Mole Antonelliana. It was originally conceived as a synagogue but as it ran drastically over budget (somethings are the same everywhere) then the Jewish community withdrew from the project and it was finished by the city. It has housed various museums and since since 2000 has house the National Museum Cinema which is well worth a visit. The museum itself is very good but the interior of the building is just as quirky as the exterior and there is a great panoramic view of the city at the top of the dome.

While I enjoyed my stay there I’ve got to say it just really didn’t do it for me. Yes, it has some beautiful sights but it just somehow didn’t feel as much like the Italy that I appreciate so much. The people are certainly wonderful as they seem to be everywhere that I’ve visited. Maybe it’s that French leaning architecture. They do, however,  have some exceptional caffes and are famous for their chocolates. Baratti e Milano is a great place to sample some of the best that they have to offer. Beautiful and delicious, but of course quality has it’s price.

A presto,


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