Turin, the capital of Piedmont, is a refined, elegant city of great historical interest – with added contemporary, cosmopolitan buzz. Admire its baroque architecture, sample Italy’s finest chocolate at a historic coffee house, or take in experimental art, plus much more, in our guide to the best things to see in Turin.
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 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.
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 for viewing 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.
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 more than 250 stalls stand 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.