Turin (/tjᵿˈrɪn/ tewr-IN; Italian: Torino, pronounced [toˈriːno], Piedmontese: Turin, pronounced [tyˈɾiŋ]) is a city and an important business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region and was the first capital city of Italy. The city is located mainly on the western bank of the Po River, in front of Susa Valley and surrounded by the western Alpine arch and by the Superga Hill. The population of the city proper is 892,649 (August 2015) while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 1.7 million inhabitants. The Turin metropolitan area is estimated by the OECD to have a population of 2.2 million.
In 1997 a part of the historical center of Torino was inscribed in the World Heritage List under the name Residences of the Royal House of Savoy.
The city has a rich culture and history, and is known for its numerous art galleries, restaurants, churches, palaces, opera houses, piazzas, parks, gardens, theatres, libraries, museums and other venues. Turin is well known for its Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-classical, and Art Nouveau architecture.
Many of Turin’s public squares, castles, gardens and elegant palazzi such as Palazzo Madama, were built between the 16th and 18th centuries. This was after the capital of the Duchy of Savoy (later Kingdom of Sardinia) was moved to Turin from Chambery (now in France) as part of the urban expansion.
The city used to be a major European political center. Turin was Italy’s first capital city in 1861 and home to the House of Savoy, Italy’s royal family. From 1563, it was the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, then of the Kingdom of Sardinia ruled by the Royal House of Savoy and finally the first capital of the unified Italy. Turin is sometimes called “the cradle of Italian liberty” for having been the birthplace and home of notable politicians and people who contributed to the Risorgimento, such as Cavour.
The city currently hosts some of Italy’s best universities, colleges, academies, lycea and gymnasia, such as the University of Turin, founded in the 15th century, and the Turin Polytechnic. In addition, the city is home to museums such as the Museo Egizio and the Mole Antonelliana . Turin’s attractions make it one of the world’s top 250 tourist destinations and the tenth most visited city in Italy in 2008.
Even though much of its political significance and importance had been lost by World War II, Turin became a major European crossroad for industry, commerce and trade, and is part of the famous “industrial triangle” along with Milan and Genoa. Turin is ranked third in Italy, after Milan and Rome, for economic strength. With a GDP of $58 billion, Turin is the world’s 78th richest city by purchasing power. As of 2010, the city has been ranked by GaWC as a Gamma World city. Turin is also home to much of the Italian automotive industry.
Turin is well known as the home of the Shroud of Turin, the football teams Juventus F.C. and Torino F.C., the headquarters of automobile manufacturers FIAT, Lancia and Alfa Romeo, and as host of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Turin, as the former capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of Italy, is home of the Savoy Residences. In addition to the 17th-century Royal Palace, built for Madama Reale Christine Marie of France (the official residence of the Savoys until 1865) there are many palaces, residences and castles in the city centre and in the surrounding towns. Turin is home to Palazzo Chiablese, the Royal Armoury, the Royal Library, Palazzo Madama, Palazzo Carignano, Villa della Regina, and the Valentino Castle. The complex of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy in Turin and in the nearby cities of Rivoli, Moncalieri, Venaria Reale, Agliè, Racconigi, Stupinigi, Pollenzo and Govone was declared a World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1997. In recent years, Turin has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, ranking 203rd in the world and 10th in Italy in 2008, with about 240,000 international arrivals.
The Egyptian Museum of Turin specializes in archaeology and anthropology, in particular the Art of Ancient Egypt. It is home to what is regarded as one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt. In 2006 it received more than 500,000 visitors. The Museum of Oriental Art houses one of the most important Asian art collections in Italy.
The city is home to the well-known Shroud of Turin: a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in the city centre. The origins of the shroud and its image are still the subject of intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians and researchers. It is popularly believed to be a depiction of Jesus Christ, however this matter is still controversial, as there seems to be a sufficient amount of historical and scientific evidence supporting the idea that it is, or is not, the Holy Face of Jesus. Nonetheless, it is a symbol of religious devotion and is one of the city’s main symbols and tourist attractions.
After it had been little more than a town for a long time, in 1559 the Duke Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy made Turin the capital of his domains. The Duke had ambition to transform the city into a major artistic and cultural capital, and in the following centuries numerous artists were to work at the Savoy court, especially architects and planners like Carlo di Castellamonte and his son Amedeo, Guarino Guarini and, in the 18th century, Filippo Juvarra and Benedetto Alfieri.
As for the painting and the visual arts, Turin became a point of reference, especially in the 20th century. In the 1920s, the painter Felice Casorati inspired a number of students called The group of six of Turin and these included Carlo Levi, Henry Paolucci, Gigi Chessa, Francis Menzio, Nicola Galante and Jessie Boswell. Artists born in Turin include the sculptor Umberto Mastroianni and the architect Carlo Mollino. Between the 1960s and the 1970s, the international centre of Turin (Arte Povera), the presence in the city of artists like Alighiero Boetti, Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone, Piero Gilardiand Michelangelo Pistoletto. In those years there was a strong artistic influence of designer Armando Testa. Artists currently operating in the city include Ugo Nespolo and Carol Rama.
The Opera Houses
A literary centre for many centuries, Turin began to attract writers only after the establishment of the court of the Duchy of Savoy. One of the most famous writers of the 17th century was Giambattista Marino, which in 1608 moved to the court of Charles Emmanuel I. Marino suffered an assassination attempt by a rival, Gaspare Murtola, and was later imprisoned for a year because of gossip that he had said and written against the duke. Perhaps, because of this, in 1615 Marino left Turin and moved to France.
The main literary figures during the Baroque age in Turin were Emanuele Tesauro and Alessandro Tassoni. In the next century Torino hosted the poet Vittorio Alfieri from Asti for a while. The situation was very different in the 19th century, especially since the city became a point of reference for Italian unification and, subsequently, the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. Indeed, in those years Tommaseo, Settembrini and John Meadows resided in the city. A major literary and cultural woman of that time was Olimpia Savio. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Turin was home to writers such as Guido Gozzano, Edmondo De Amicis, Emilio Salgari and Dino Segre, the latter known by the pseudonym of Pitigrilli.
Turin had a very important role in Italian literature after World War II. For the publishing house founded by Giulio Einaudiworked figures such as Cesare Pavese, Italo Calvino, Vitaliano Brancati, Primo Levi, Natalia Ginzburg, Fernanda Pivano, Beppe Fenoglio, Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini. In more recent years, writers active in the city are Giovanni Arpino, Nico Orengo, Giuseppe Culicchia, Margherita Oggero, Laura Mancinelli, Alessandra Montrucchio, Alessandro Perissinotto, Guido Quartz, Piero Soria and Alessandro Baricco. Baricco was also among the founders of the Scuola Holden, dedicated to writing techniques teaching.
The Mole Antonelliana Turin is the Italian city where film chromatography was first established. As such, it forms the birthplace of Italian cinema. Because of its historic, geographical and cultural proximity to France, Italian filmmakers were naturally influenced by French cinema and the Lumière brothers. The first Italian cinema screening occurred in Turin in March 1896. In November 1896, Italian filmmakers performed the first cinema screening of a film before a fee-paying audience.
By the start of the 20th century (especially after 1907), a number of the first Italian films were aired in Turin. Examples include Giovanni Pastrone Cabiria, in 1914, one of the first blockbusters in history.
The Turin-based company Ambrosio Film, established in 1906 by Arturo Ambrosio, was one of the leading forces in Italian cinema and boosted the importance of the city as a filmmaking destination. The company, noted in particular for its historical epics, produced a large number of films until it was dissolved in 1924.
During the 1920s and 30s, Turin hosted a number of film productions and major film studios (film houses), such as the Itala film, Aquilaand Fert Studios. Today their heritage is located in the modern Lumiq Studios and Virtual Reality Multi Media Spa Turin’s prominence in Italian film continued until 1937, the year Cinecittà was inaugurated in Rome.
After World War II, the cinematic scene in Turin continued to thrive. 1956 saw the opening of the National Museum of Cinema, first housed in the Palazzo Chiablese and then, from 2000, in the imposing headquarters of the Mole Antonelliana. In 1982 the film critic Gianni Rondolino created Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, which later became the Torino Film Festival.
Today Turin is one of the main cinematographic and television centres in Italy, thanks to the role of the Turin Film Commission that reports the production of many feature films, soap operas and commercials.
Turin streets were the locations where Audrey Hepburn played War and Peace, Michael Caine drove a Mini Cooper in The Italian Job, Claudio Bisio becomes the president of the Italian Republic, Carlo Verdone set his version of Cinderella, Marco Tullio Giordana shot Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy, Woody Allen shot Hannah and Her Sisters, Cate Blanchett played Heaven, Giovanna Mezzogiorno Vincere, Marcello Mastroianni and Jacqueline Bisset The Sunday Woman, and Harvey Keitel The Stone Merchant. Turin also became the capital of the tsar for The Demons of St. Petersberg.
Turin chocolate firms, aside from many kinds of chocolate, produce a typical chocolate called Gianduiotto, named after Gianduja, a local Commedia dell’arte mask. Moreover, the city is also known for the so-called bicerin, a traditional hot drink made of espresso, drinking chocolate and whole milk served layered in a small rounded glass. Every year Turin organizes CioccolaTÒ, a two-week chocolate festival run with the main Piedmontese chocolate producers, such as Caffarel, Streglio, Venchi and others, as well as some big international companies, such as Lindt & Sprüngli.
As for snack food, the now popular tramezzini were first served in a historic café of downtown Turin, namely Caffè Mulassano, where they were devised in 1925 as an alternative to English tea sandwiches.In recent years, another trademark drink of the city is MoleCola, an Italian Coca-Cola that entered production in 2012 and quickly spread both in Italy and outside its native country.
Local cuisine also features a particular type of pizza, so-called pizza al padellino or pizza al tegamino, which is basically a small-sized, thick-crust and deep-dish pizza typically served in several Turin pizza places.
Since the mid-1980s, Piedmont has also benefited from the start of the Slow Food movement and Terra Madre, events that have highlighted the rich agricultural and vinicultural value of the Po valley and northern Italy.