La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy’s Undiscovered Gem
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Indulge in Food and Wine at Eataly's Flagship Store
No trip to Turin would be complete without a visit to Eataly, the world-famous Italian food emporium. Eataly was founded by Oscar Farinetti in 2007 to celebrate the best of Italian food and drink. Since then it has expanded globally, but the original flagship store in Turin is a must-see.
Spanning over 40,000 square feet, Eataly Turin contains a staggering array of Italian specialties. Peruse the fish market for the freshest seafood just landed from the Mediterranean and Adriatic. Marvel at the selection of cured meats and artisanal cheeses from every corner of Italy. The pasta section dazzles with every imaginable shape and sauce, while a full bakery turns out focaccia, panettone, and cannoli to perfection.
Yet Eataly is more than just a food market. It contains multiple restaurants where you can pause for a meal or aperitivo. The rooftop restaurant Il Birrificio features craft beer brewed on-site along with panini and sharing plates. Le Cucine del Mercato lets you pick your ingredients from the market stalls below and have them cooked to order. Eataly is passionate about sustainability - produce is locally sourced, fish adhere to conservation quotas, and food waste is minimized.
Eataly also offers food and wine education. Sign up for a pasta-making class to learn secrets like extruding spaghetti through bronze dies for better texture. Attend a tasting to explore the regional differences between Barolo, Barbaresco, and other Piedmont wines. Experts are on hand to explain each product's origins and production.
Much of the joy of Eataly is simply wandering the aisles uncovering new discoveries. See dusty bottles of vermouth aged for decades in the wine cellar. Sample white truffles shaved over fresh tagliatelle in the seasonal specialty section. Pick up some rare Italian craft gin at the liquor shop on your way out. Just don't expect to get out of Eataly quickly - with so many tempting treasures, you'll want to linger over every bite and sip.
What else is in this post?
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Indulge in Food and Wine at Eataly's Flagship Store
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Marvel at Egyptian Artifacts at the Museo Egizio
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - See the Holy Shroud at the Duomo di Torino
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Tour the Lavish Royal Palace and Gardens
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Wander Through Porta Palatina, the Ancient Roman Gate
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Take in Panoramic Views from the Mole Antonelliana Tower
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Shop for Artisan Chocolates and Pastries
- La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Experience an Opera at the Famed Teatro Regio
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Marvel at Egyptian Artifacts at the Museo Egizio
No visit to Turin is complete without spending an afternoon immersed in the astounding collections of the Museo Egizio, one of the world’s preeminent museums of Egyptian antiquities. While the Louvre and British Museum may boast higher profiles, the Museo Egizio contains the world’s largest collection of artifacts outside of Cairo, providing an unparalleled opportunity to marvel at the craftsmanship and artistic achievements of Ancient Egypt.
Founded in 1824, the museum houses over 30,000 relics spanning centuries of Egyptian history. The breadth and depth of the collections allow you to trace the full arc of Egyptian civilization, from the Old Kingdom through the Ptolemaic dynasty. The amount of material is staggering - you’ll want to focus on a few highlights for manageable viewing. Don’t miss the mesmerizing statues lining the gallery of kings, where lifelike pharaohs and queens stare back as if frozen in time over two millennia ago. Peer into the intricately painted sarcophagi housing mummified humans and animals prepared for their journey into the afterlife. Pore over papyrus scrolls covered in hieroglyphs and gaze upon ceremonial objects encrusted in lapis lazuli and gold.
One standout is the Statue of Ramses II, measuring over 10 feet tall and exquisitely carved from a single block of granite. This imposing figure depicts Ramses II as the god Osiris, holding the crook and flail that were symbols of Egyptian kingship. Discovered in 1820 near the mortuary temple of Ramses II in Memphis, the statue dates to around 1250 BCE during the reign of Ramses II, one of the greatest pharaohs of the New Kingdom era. The care taken with minute details like the pleating on Ramses’ kilt and the hieroglyphs adorning his arms underscores the incredible skill of Egyptian sculptors. You can spend hours examining it from every angle, appreciating both its monumentality and artistry.
Make time for the museum’s Mummy Gallery containing eight remarkably preserved mummies, including that of Kha, a nobleman who lived around 1400 BCE. Viewing these intimate examples of Egyptian burial practices brings history to life in a unique way. You may find yourself face-to-face with creatures like cats, falcons, and crocodiles mummified as religious offerings. While somewhat eerie, seeing the mummies up close provides insight into Egyptian spirituality and funerary rituals designed to ensure eternal life.
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - See the Holy Shroud at the Duomo di Torino
Regardless of your religious beliefs, a visit to Turin's Duomo di Torino is a must to view one of Christianity's most controversial relics - the Holy Shroud. This 14-foot linen cloth bears the faint image of a crucified man believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. While its authenticity remains fiercely debated, the Holy Shroud continues to draw millions of pilgrims to Turin each year. Even if you're skeptical, you'll likely find yourself mesmerized viewing this enigmatic artifact.
The shroud's existence has been documented since the 14th century, but it only became tied to the Turin Cathedral in 1578. The Savoy family housed it in the cathedral's Chapel of the Holy Shroud, which was designed by renaissance architect Guarino Guarini specifically for shroud display. Since then, the shroud has endured several fires and moved between France and Italy when control shifted between the two countries. The shroud remained hidden through most of the 20th century until its first television appearance in 1973.
Today, the shroud is kept in an environmentally-controlled vault and only rarely put on public exhibit. Advance reservations are required to join the long queues waiting to enter the cathedral's dimly lit viewing gallery. Once inside, you'll find yourself transfixed by the ghostly image of a man bearing wounds consistent with crucifixion. The softly glowing figure presents an air of undeniable mystique, which you can contemplate while listening to atmospheric recordings of Gregorian chant.
While many experts have deemed the shroud a Medieval forgery, proponents argue that medieval methods could not produce such a detailed negative image. Numerous books and documentaries present scientific and historical evidence for and against the shroud's legitimacy as Christ's burial cloth. Seeing it in person lets you draw your own conclusions about its origins and possible meaning. You may remain doubtful of its provenance, but undoubtedly touched by its timeless representation of human suffering.
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Tour the Lavish Royal Palace and Gardens
No visit to Turin is complete without spending an afternoon immersed in the opulence of the Palazzo Reale, the lavish palace that served as home to the Royal House of Savoy for centuries. As you explore the palazzo's ornate rooms and wander through its immense gardens, you'll gain insight into the extravagant lifestyle of Turin's former rulers.
Construction on the Palazzo Reale began in 1646 when Turin was made the capital of the Duchy of Savoy. Successive dukes and kings expanded the palace over the next hundred years, adding baroque and rococo flourishes designed to impress visitors and underscore their prestige. Kings Victor Amadeus II and Charles Emmanuel III brought in prominent architects like Filippo Juvarra and Benedetto Alfieri to adorn the palazzo with grand staircases, gilded ceilings, and lavish galleries, establishing it as a symbol of Savoyard wealth and power.
The scale and luxury evident in every room still manage to astound visitors today. Peek inside the ornate private apartments of Charles Emmanuel III which exemplify Italian baroque style with intricate wood intarsia panels and frescoed ceilies depicting allegorical scenes. Don't miss the extravagant Palatine Chapel clad entirely in marble with a soaring painted dome over the altar.
For a taste of royal entertainments, visit the ornate Ballroom where the Savoys threw lavish masked balls and hosted illustrious guests like Napoleon and Casanova. Ascend the monumental Central Staircase lined with tapestries and illuminated by a glass ceiling three stories up. Displays of swords, decorations, and ceramics give you a feel for the treasures once housed here.
When your neck starts to ache from all the gazing at frescoed ceilings, head outside to the immense gardens behind the palace. Designed in 1697, these perfectly manicured French-style grounds provided an idyllic pleasure garden for the Savoys. Stroll the shaded paths, taking in the geometrically shaped hedges and fountains representing the rivers of Savoy territory. If you visit during the warmer months, concerts are sometimes held amidst the statuary and flower beds.
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Wander Through Porta Palatina, the Ancient Roman Gate
Step back over 2,000 years in time by passing through the towering brick arches of Porta Palatina, the oldest and best-preserved Roman gate in Turin. As you approach the imposing structure tucked away in the city's northeast corner, you may find it hard to believe this relic has stood here since the emperor Augustus founded Augusta Taurinorum (Turin) around 25 BCE. Yet the gate's survival over millennia pays testament to Roman architectural prowess, allowing you to glimpse Turin's beginnings as a Roman colony and military outpost guarding passage through the Alps.
Once serving as the city's main entrance, Porta Palatina provided access to the central Cardo and Decumanus roads of the typical Roman town grid. The gate took its name from the Palatine Hill in Rome, emphasizing its role connecting the colonies to the capital. Its robust design was necessary to reinforce the vulnerable northern frontier. Constructed from huge blocks of local stone without mortar, the gate utilizes a double arch and vaulted passageway. The interior ceiling still retains carved niches used to support wooden beams during repairs across the centuries. Look closely and you can find graffiti etched by Roman soldiers centuries ago.
As Christianity spread and barbarian raids waned in the fourth century CE, the gate lost its military significance. The area was built over and the gate filled in, lying hidden below ground until excavated in the late 1800s. Emerge from the gate's north side to see remains of the Roman theater that once hosted spectacles and entertainment. Stand on Via San Tommaso by the gate's south façade to envision arriving in Augusta Taurinorum as a soldier, trader, or official visiting from Rome.
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Take in Panoramic Views from the Mole Antonelliana Tower
After spending days immersed in Turin’s art, history, food and culture, you’ll want to get the lay of the land from above. The 167-meter tower of the Mole Antonelliana provides unmatched 360-degree panoramic views over Turin, letting you appreciate how the Po River shaped the city’s development and spot iconic landmarks dotting the landscape.
Construction on this Turin icon began in 1863, originally intended as a synagogue for the city’s Jewish community. But costs escalated and city authorities took over, completing it as a monumental brick spire financed by the sale of private boxes on the interior upper levels. The building was christened Mole Antonelliana in honor of its architect, Alessandro Antonelli, upon completion in 1889.
Today, an ultra-modern glass and steel elevator whisks visitors up the tower to two outdoor viewing platforms. As you rise over the rooftops, Turin spreads out before you - from the labyrinthine lanes of the Quadrilatero Romano to grand 19th century boulevards lined with stately arcades. Spot the tapering white dome of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud dominating Piazza San Giovanni. Trace the curve of the Po through the center of town past Murazzi embankments bustling with cafes and nightlife.
Pick out the massive courtyard of Palazzo Reale and gardens modeled on Versailles. The lofty alps providing a picturesque backdrop to the north come into crisp focus. On clear days, you can even spot the peak of Monviso towering above the surrounding mountains. The Po Valley unfurls to the south with the Superga Basilica visible atop its perch in the hills.
As you take in views from all sides, you gain perspective on how Turin expanded as the powerbase of the Savoy dynasty and hummed with industry and manufacturing. But pockets of medieval lanes survive around the Duomo, hinting at Turin’s renaissance past. The grid of Roman roads that kickstarted settlement here two millennia ago becomes apparent amidst the urban fabric.
The Mole Antonelliana itself stands as a monument to civic ambition, intended to create an architectural icon rivaling Milan’s cathedral in scale. Later housing the National Cinema Museum, it reminds you how Turin served as the epicenter of Italy’s early film industry.
While some visitors balk at the 16 euro elevator ticket, most find the panorama payoff well worth the splurge. “The views were absolutely amazing,” says Mary from London on Tripadvisor. “You really get a sense of Turin laid out before you.” Visitors also praise the informative multimedia experience during the lift ride up charting Turin’s evolution from Roman times onward.
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Shop for Artisan Chocolates and Pastries
No visit to Turin would be complete without stopping to indulge in the city's decadent chocolates and pastries - after all, Turin is renowned as Italy's chocolate capital. As you wander the elegant streets, keep an eye out for historic cafés where you can duck in to enjoy a drink and dessert while soaking up the ambiance.
According to local lore, the first solid chocolate arrived in Turin from Spain as early as 1560. Chocolate quickly became popular with the Savoy nobility and later the bourgeoisie. By the 19th century, small chocolate workshops bloomed across Turin using local Piedmont hazelnuts and alpine milk to craft their creations. Many pioneering chocolate brands established then, like Guido Gobino and Confetteria Stratta, still delight customers today.
For a quintessential Turin chocolate experience, head to Peyrano, a charming chocolate shop and café tucked away on Corso Moncalieri. This historic brand dates back to 1867 when Antonio Peyrano opened his small workshop. Little has changed here over the decades, with stained glass windows, original wood counters, and a staff of ladies in black dresses and white aprons. Sit at one of the tables to enjoy your choice of drinking chocolate or chocolate gelato. Pick up artfully wrapped boxes of their signature gianduiotti - chocolate with hazelnut paste - to take home.
Or visit Stratta Chocolate on the swanky Via Lagrange to experience how chocolate cafés catered to 19th century aristocrats. Velvet settees, chandeliers, and gilded trim set an elegant mood, as does the attentive table service. Stratta's sublime offerings range from classic pralines to inventive creations like raspberry-pistachio gianduiotti. For a light snack, order the hot chocolate served in a porcelain pot accompanied by freshly made biscotti.
Beyond chocolate, Turin's cafés have also long been gathering places to indulge in tempting pastries. Stop by Dalmasso on Piazza San Carlo, a cherished art nouveau café dating to 1905. Dalmasso still sources many ingredients from trusted local purveyors like they did over a century ago. Savor the delicate sfogliatelle pastry stuffed with orange-scented ricotta, or try the house specialty: a fluffy hazelnut cake soaked in Alchermes liqueur.
Or head to Baratti & Milano, another historic café frequented by Cavour and Puccini back in the day. Beneath splendid murals and chandeliers, indulge in their signature cake - a moist chocolate and hazelnut bombe smothered in decadent gianduja chocolate cream. Pair it with one of their luscious ice cream flavors like lemon sorbet studded with cookies or hazelnut gelato laced with chocolate chunks.
La Dolce Vita: How to Spend an Epic Weekend in Turin, Italy's Undiscovered Gem - Experience an Opera at the Famed Teatro Regio
Among Turin’s many cultural gems, the Teatro Regio stands as the city’s foremost temple to the opera arts. Constructed in the early 18th century, the theater has hosted premieres by Italy’s greatest composers and continues to stage spectacular productions in an unparalleled setting. Attending an opera at Teatro Regio lets you experience the soaring beauty of the human voice in the very place where melodramas like Aida and La Bohème first captivated audiences.
As you settle into the plush red seat cushions and ornate loggias, it’s easy to envision the kings and queens of Savoy holding court over elaborate spectacles in the royal box above. Murano glass chandeliers illuminate the six-tiered horseshoe interior modeled on Milan’s La Scala. The lavish visuals set the mood before the music even starts. When the lights dim and the velvet curtain rises, you may find yourself transported to worlds populated by tragic heroes, feuding lovers, gods and mortals - all passionately singing their truth.
Recent visitor Andree raved, “Seeing Tosca at the Regio was incredible. The acoustics are phenomenal and amplify the orchestra and vocals beautifully. The sets and costumes were magnificent. And the duet at the end gave me chills!” Others praise the Regio’s imaginative productions, such as a recent Figaro set in 1950s Hollywood. Premieres also remain a draw, like the Azio Corghi opera Divorzio All’Italiana debuting here in 2015.
Beyond attending performances, you can also tour the theater on non-performance days. A museum above displays original scores, portraits of composers, and costumes worn by opera legends. The Friday Opera Insight series provides informative pre-show lectures to tee up that evening’s production. Audience members especially appreciate the charming old-world theater experience, from uniformed cloakroom attendants to intermissions allowing time to stroll the chandelier-lined foyer.
Of course, the caliber of talent consistently appearing on the Regio stage makes it one of Europe’s best opera venues. Recent seasons have featured superstars like Anna Netrebko, Juan Diego Florez, and Placido Domingo leading an outstanding company of regular performers. Music directors like Gianandrea Noseda and Daniel Oren ensure artistic excellence. “The quality of the orchestra, chorus, and soloists was just remarkable,” notes Australian visitor Teresa. “A memorable night at the opera in a superb historical theater.”