Monday, July 29, 2013

Day Trips from Milan: Turin

Turin is around 145km (about 90 miles) east of Milan, in the region of Piemont.

Turin is well-known in Italy for its museums, and the most famous of these is the Egyptian Museum. It's the largest Egyptian museum in the world outside of Egypt itself. Turin is also home to the Shroud of Turin, strangely enough (!), and the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile, the national automobile museum. Turin is the birthplace of FIAT, which stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino - The Italian Automobile Factory of Turin.

One of the main sites in the city is the Mole Antonelliana. It's named after the architect who built it, Alessandro Antonelli, who died in 1888. It was completed a year after his death in 1889, and was originally constructed as a synagogue. Today it houses the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, the national cinema museum.

Some of the other popular sites in the city are in Piazza Castello, which as the name would suggest, is where the city's castle is located. The piazza is about 15 minutes on foot from the city's main train station of Porta Nuova, past the shops of Via Roma. It's also where you'll find the Palazzo Reale, the former palace of the House of Savoy. The House of Savoy was formed in the 11th century, and by the end of the Italian Republic it was the royal family who ruled unified Italy. 

The river Po runs through the city, and if you carry on walking though the centre, finishing down in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, you'll get to it.

Turin's also well-known in Italy for its hot chocolate. I remember when I first went there in 2006 for the Paralympics I ordered one, having heard how good the hot chocolate was, and I got something that I didn't quite expect! It was incredibly thick and tasty, served with a spoon - almost more like a dessert than a drink! Turin is also the home of gianduja (or gianduia) chocolate, which is a kind of chocolate that contains hazelnut paste. Sounds a bit like Nutella, right? Well its original name was Pasta Gianduja - gianduja paste.

If you fancy some gelato I highly recommend MAK.s Collezione Gelati in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 13. There I had one of the best gelati that I've ever had anywhere in Italy, a delicious cream and chocolate cone.

Turin's very easy to reach from Milan by train. With the introduction of the highspeed Frecciarossa trains the two-hour journey has been cut to a non-stop one hour trip. There's also the slightly slower Frecciabianca, which has three stops inbetween Milano Centrale and Torino Porta Nuova. Don't leave it until the last minute to book these trains, as full price tickets cost 30 euro one way on the Frecciarossa, and 25.50 euro one way on the Frecciabianca. There are reduced tickets available for both trains, and if you book far enough in advance you can get them for a barganious 9 euro for second class. The last time I went to Turin I bought my tickets six days before my trip, and got tickets for 19 euro for the Frecciabianca on the outbound journey, and also 19 euro for the Frecciarossa for the return trip, both in second class. The bonus with the Frecce, as well as the reduced journey time, is that seat reservation is obligatory. There are also the regionale trains which run less frequently than the Frecce, a one-way second class ticket costs 11.20 and it takes just under 2 hours to reach Torino Porta Nuova.

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