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Lake Orta has been hailed as ‘The Italian lake tourists haven’t discovered yet’ and is closer to Turin than Lake Maggiore or Como (one hour 40 minutes by car). It makes a wonderful trip in spring, summer and autumn: during the summer enjoy its many beaches and watersports, in autumn and spring take a boat trip to island San Giulio, or hike the parameter and admire the seasonal changes in the surrounding hills.
The ancient abbey Sacra di San Michele was built between 983 and 987 on the top of mount Pirchiriano. It is dedicated to the cult of the Archangel Michele, defender of the Christian people, and belongs to a pilgrimage route that runs all the way from Saint-Michel, France to Monte Sant’Angelo in Puglia, Southern Italy. This spiritual location has become a symbol of Piedmont and also inspired Umberto Eco’s famous 1980 monastic murder mystery novel Il Nomme della Rosa (The Name of the Rose). The mountain climate often shrouds the building in mist or clouds, adding to the drama of an already beautiful and atmospheric site. Easily accessible by car and public transport.
Sacra di San Michele, Via alla Sacra, 14, S. Ambrogio, Italy, +39 011 93 91 30
The upper echelons of Aosta Valley are known for skiing and too far for day trips from Turin, but the national park Gran Paradiso makes for great alpine walking. It has 450 miles of marked trails and mule tracks – check out the best route for you on the national park website here. Reachable by car in one hour 20 minutes.
Piedmont is home to the vineyards of many world-renowned wines, including Barolo that is produced in the Lange district, just a one hour 15 minute drive from Turin. A trip to Langhe promises stunning views of rolling, vineyard covered hills, quaint rural architecture and of course, enjoying great wine. Both large and small vineyards offer tours with wine tastings, and there will likely be the option to have lunch too. For a more intimate experience with the possibility of meeting the wine producer, opt for a smaller operation. A car is needed to reach the vineyards and visitors are required to make a booking in advance. Alternatively sign up with a wine tour company and they will take care of transport and reservations.
This magnificent Baroque estate built in the 1600s for Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy, is considered ‘Turin’s Versaille’. The royal palace extends over an area of 80,000 square metres and has extensive grounds and gardens, in which archaeological remains and 17th-century grottos are complemented by contemporary sculpture. The famous Hall of Diana designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte is a Baroque masterpiece fit for a Disney Princess. The estate also runs a lively events programme from concerts to educational workshops, so be sure to check out what is on offer before your visit. It is a 30 minute drive from Turin and just under one hour on the train.
La Venaria Reale, Piazza della Repubblica, 4, Venaria Reale, Italy, +39 011 4992333