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Turin was the first capital city of Italy, home of the Savoia royal family. The town centre is worthy of a King, with its porticos and narrow medieval streets that often open up to yet another beautiful square, museum, ancient church or roman ruins. If you arrive in Turin by plane, take the shuttle bus to Porta Nuova, then walk down Via Roma (right in front of you) which is the main shopping street, with marble flooring and porticos to shelter you from rain or sun. This five minute walk takes you to Piazza Castello, through a couple more squares worthy of a visit. Piazza Castello is the heart of Turin and is home to the Palazzo Reale (the King's quarters) and Palazzo Madama (the Queen's quarters). Both of these magnificent palaces deserve to be seen and you can enjoy a coffee or a glass of spumante inside them. The Palazzo Madama (the one in the middle of the square) has jsut been re-opened to the public after five years of renovation and is truly magnificent! From Piazza Castello, you can go in any direction and find something really cool to visit.
Let's start by going down Via Po, yes, another shopping street with porticos, which leads down to the river Po. Before you get to the end of Via Po, look left to see the symbol of Turin, the Mole Antonelliana, which is the tallest building in the city; 167 metres, built in 1863, is now host to Italy's Musuem of Cinema. This tour is filled with spectacular multi-media presentations and you can take the glass elevator right up to the top to see the whole of Turin. If you decide to come down, then go down to Piazza Vittorio Veneto and enjoy a glass of wine to steady your nerves, along with 'stuzzichini' - dishes of aperitif style food that all Turin bars serve free of charge with a glass of wine! This the way to go when walking around Turin. It's better and healthier than the fast food joints and is part of the local culture (not all Italian cities provide this service). Tipping is not part of the culture when drinking in bars, but in a proper restaurant you would be expected to leave approximately 10% in tips.
Now come back up to Piazza Castello, cross it and turn right into Via XX Settembre?50 metres down and you will find the Duomo, the Cathedral of Turin on the right, with the wonderful 'Porte Palatine' (Palatine Gates) on your left - the only Roman Gates to the city that Napoleon left standing. Inside the Duomo you will find the famous 'Shroud of Turin' which is visible to the public and is interesting to all, even those who may not be religious, because of the Scientific research that has gone into it and the stories that lie behind it. The Duomo is an imposing work of art, but the most beautiful and less-visited Consolata is the most astonishing piece of Christian art in Turin. To get there from The Duomo, go down Via Santa Chiara and cross 5 streets until you come to Via della Consolata. The amount of detailed art-work here is breathtaking. You will notice a delightful little pedestrian square in front of the Consolata, where you might consider dropping into one of the few cafŠs there.
Part of the enjoyment of visiting Turin is getting from A to B, where you will come across endless works of art, sculptures, medieval streets with cobblestones and more. To finish off the visit to the city centre, I recommend going back to Piazza Castello and to the left of Via Roma, into Piazza Carignano to admire the Architecture and possibly to the Egyptian Museum, strange to see outside of Egypt, yes, but it is the second biggest in the world! More wandering around that area is recommended!
Finally, the best place to visit just outside of Turin is Venaria Reale, which has just finished its 10-year restoration project. This palace and grounds are comparable to Versailles and the work carried out makes the visit much more than a passive, walk around, with, for example a 7m by 5m model of the grounds and palace so you can get your bearings. Take the bus number 72 and you will be there in about 30 minutes from the city centre.
The bus is the best way to get there at €5.50 and regular departures: every 30' from 05:15 to 08:15, every 45' from 08:15 to 16:30, every 30' from 16:30 to 21:00, every 45' from 21:00 to 22:30. It starts at Porta Nuova Train Station, it's not the easiest to figure out where it is, but look for a blue bus with a yellow line on it with 'Sadem' written on it. It's parked on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, just before the corner of Via Sacchi.
You can buy the tickets in the cafè beside the stop. It stops at Porta Susa, too.
Again, it's not easy to spot, but it's under the porticos, across the road from the Train station, in Corso San Martino. It also stops at via Borgaro 103/104, but that's outside of the centre. You can pay on board or buy the tickets at the bar behind the bus stop. Add 5 to 10 minutes to the departure time from Porta Nuova. A taxi will cost you approx €30.
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