In the heart of the historic centre of Turin is Piazza Castello, which hosts two major Baroque structures designed by architect Filippo Juvarra – Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) and Palazzo Madama. The latter was so admired by Napoleon that he made it his Turin residence. Juvarra is celebrated for his weightless details and dignified simplicity, and these two buildings stand in testament to his mastery of majesty without pomp. Palazzo Reale was originally built in the 16th century, but underwent modification by the architect at the request of princess Christine Marie of France in the late 17th century. The ochre palace seems infinite, stretching out on three sides of a rectangle with an elegantly arched but simple frontage. Palazzo Madama dates from 1003 and the façade was added by Juvarra in 1718. The rear of the castle remains in its medieval form so it is an incredibly unusual structure for this reason alone. Juvarra’s façade is a true baroque masterpiece but the interior is perhaps even more spectacular – the monumental and lofty double stairway has been replicated in buildings around the world. Palazzo Madama is also home to the Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, which has a remarkable collection of paintings from the medieval, Renaissance and baroque periods.
Museo civico d’arte antica, Piazza Castello, Turin +39 011 443 3501
Turin is synonymous with chocolate, and this is reflected in its historic coffee houses where chocolate delicacies and special coffee blends are served in charming period settings. Three of the best are the grand 19th-century Caffè San Carlo, Baratti & Milano and the Art Nouveau Caffè Torino.
Established in 1995 by major patron and Art Review Power 100 regular, Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, the foundation supports young Italian and international artists with particular focus on commissions and the production of new work. The museum space in Turin is at the centre of the foundations activities and is one of the premier destinations to view experimental contemporary art in the city. Artists on view have included Isa Genzken, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Gerhard Richter. If you have time to explore beyond Turin you can also visit Palazzo Re Rebaudengo in Guarene d’Alba, an 18th-century manor on the Roero hills.
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, via Modane, 16, Turin +39 011 379 7600
This is a central neighbourhood, located between Porte Palatine, via Garibaldi and Corso Siccardi, where an ancient Roman settlement once stood. The network of small streets are made up of beautiful historic buildings that are home to interesting shops, bars and restaurants, as well as remnants of the former Roman structures. The area always has a buzzy atmosphere, but particularly in the evening. Quadrilatero Romano is mostly pedestrianised so it is the best place in the city to wander aimlessly until you are ready for aperitivo.
Every Saturday morning and every second Sunday of the month (on Sundays there is more on offer), this famous flea market draws visitors from all over Italy. A maze of over 250 stalls are set out alongside long-standing antique shops and appealing cafés. You can find everything at Balon – antique and retro furniture, collectable toys, local lace and vintage clothing, contemporary crafts. It is located just behind Porta Palazzo in the newly fashionable Aurora neighbourhood. The market opens at 8am, and if you want to beat the crowds it is advisable to arrive early.
In the 18th century, under the rule of Vittorio Amadeo II, Turin was facing likely defeat by the French army. The story goes that whilst visiting a small chapel on the tallest hill overlooking the city, Amadeo vowed to build a church if Turin was victorious. And so the church was built on the Superga hill with stunning views over the city and wider landscape. From here you can see peaks of the Alps such as Monviso, Orsiera, Rocciamelone, Gran Paradiso, Apostoli, Torre di Lavina and Monte Rosa with Doufour peak. Architect Filippo Juvarra’s structure is dominated by the soaring dome, supported on four grand Corinthian columns. The interior is relatively simple (in baroque terms), and the absence of extravagant decoration emphasises the beautiful lines of the arches and barrel vaults.
Superga Basilica, Strada Basilica di Superga, 73, Turin +39 11 89 97 456