We decided to go to Torino because it is in a part of Italy that we were curious about (north of Genoa and over towards the French border) and because everyone said that it was a lovely city.
They were right!
We caught a hi-speed Frecciarossa train up via Bologna, Modena, Parma and Milano (stopping only at Bologna and Milano) and then travelling travelling across the Novara plains where a massive amount of the rice for Europe is grown.
The train travels at around 300kph between the cities and is extremely smooth. The trip took us 4 hours. Why can't they do this in Oz?

Torino is in the shadow of the European Alps as they curve across the north and then turn south towards the the coast between Genoa (Italy) and Nice (France).
Unfortunately, the weather was hazy near the mountains, so we could not see them much at all.
We got to the apartment where we were supposed to meet someone on the street outside the main door to let us in. Unfortunately, she had been told to wait in the apartment, so Lyn & I stood on the street for almost 1/2 hour, wondering what we were going to do (couldn't contact the owner) before Arsha poked her head out of the door and was surprised to see us.
Nevertheless, the apartment was very nice, close to the centre of the city and river.
Church spire over our apartment block
One thing that we did not anticipate when we booked our trip to Torino was that it coincided with "Ferragosto" which is the mid-August public holiday formal of Italy. This time also coincides with summer holidays for Italians, so the city was very quiet and a lot of shops and eating places were closed.
This did not worry Lyn & I too much and we enjoyed the quietness after the madness that is Florence at this time of the year!

Our first stop the next day (#1 on Lyn's hit-list) was the Egyptian Museum which is the largest museum of it's kind outside of Cairo, Egypt.
The Italians were heavily involved in "excavation" of Egyptian sites early on and there is a huge archive of artefacts here in Turin. The collection is massive, ranging from mummies and burial caskets to statues and other treasures.
The entrance to the Egyptian Museum
One of the burial caskets
A whole corridor of caskets (books of the dead on the walls)

Burial robe from a tomb
There is also a huge collection of "books of the dead" which are scrolls, buried with their dead owners to provide instructions and details to help them into the afterlife.
Two "Books of the Dead"
Closeup of one small section of a "Book of the Dead".
The person on the right (white robe) is the deceased and then, reading right to left, the"weighing of the heart" (checking for "purity and a good life") by Anubis, before being judged by Osirus (god of the afterlife)

After we left the museum, we wandered off the main streets to find a coffee and discovered this beautiful arcade linking two the buildings close to the main piazza (Piazza Castello).
It was fully restored and had an outdoor restaurant set up in the centre.

The architecture is very different from a lot of the the rest of Italy and probably more aligned with French style.
We did a "Cityhopper" red-bus tour and the commentary said that a lot of French influence went into the main buildings in the city.
The Palazzo Reale (on the corner of Piazza Castello) could almost be a miniature version of Versailles when you see it from the front.

Piazza Castello
Our next outing was to the signature building of Torino, the "Mole Antonelliana".
This a huge spired building that was completed in 1889 and was supposed to be a synagogue, but there was a big falling-out between the architect and the Jewish community over the design and the city had to take over the project and complete it.
It has always been a museum, but in 2000, it was turned into a national museum of cinema.

The museum is stunning.
The first full floor is full of paraphernalia associated with cinema and photography and traces the history from the first "camera obscura" through to the development of moving pictures.
The second floor is the area directly under the dome and consists of a myriad of small rooms, each one having a theme and exhibiting clips from movies, props and posters.
The main floor had a set of reclined chairs where we could lie and watch film-clips of everything from silent movies though to modern classics.
Spiralling up around the main walls of the dome was a walkway that traced the history of Italian film that told the stories of the ordinary people. Once again, there were film-clips running along with posters and explanation in both Italian and English.
The main floor seen from the spiral walkway
Looking across the dome from half-way up the spiral walkway
One wall of the main dome showing the spiral walkway above and one of the "theme areas" below
Running in the centre of this area is a glass elevator that goes from the ground level to the observation platform that runs around the top of the dome on the outside.
I would have liked to go up to this area, but I think that I would have had to take some Valium to get into that elevator!

Below are two of the small "theme areas".
We have no idea what this particular one was about, but hey - we liked it!
How about having this theatre in the toilet?
There were quite a few old television sets running in various rooms. They must be adapted to run film but the effect was terrific and it was very nostalgic to see the old grainy picture.
I can't remember when I last saw old TVs like these - running!
Lyn & I both thought that Torino reminded us of Melbourne in a lot of ways.
Although a different type of architecture, the streets felt the same and the fact that there were trams running in the city, as well as all the parks and greenery (and of course the river Po running through the centre) made us feel quite at home.

An interesting art installation in the courtyard of Palazzo Carignano

Everywhere you go, you see fountains and green areas.
Apparently, Torino is the greenest city in Italy and it is really nice to enjoy it after all the stone and stark features that we have seen with the more "historic" cities.

The river Po sits to one side of the city centre and there are green areas all along it's length.
Close to the city is the "Lungo Po Amando Diaz" which used to be a loading area for the boats that plied the Po. Now it is all nightclubs at night, using the old storage areas under the raised riverbank as venues.
Apparently, you used to be able to get on a boat and travel right down the Po to Venice. That is almost the entire width of Italy at it's widest point!

We did a short river trip on one of the shuttle boats one morning, but because of Ferragosto, the run was very short, but it was still a good way to get a different perspective on the city.

We got off at a replica medieval castle that was built for an exposition in 1884 and is now a museum. It sits in a large park just south of the city and although the complex is quite small, it is nice to walk around.

Unfortunately, one of the down-sides to Torino is the graffiti. It is not even good graffiti, just "tagging".
The authorities must have a big problem with this as it is everywhere and detracts from the positives of the city.
A beautiful old building housing the rowing club - tagged!
One of the storage areas on the riverfront
It is like this all around the city - a real shame
Lyn in a classy part of town!
On our last day, we walked to a church on top of a hill on the other side of the river.
Next to the church is a museum dedicated to the mountains around Torino and it was very interesting.
It was full of old photos and mountain climbing paraphernalia going right back to when people first started exploring the region.
There was also a temporary exhibition of old emulsion prints spanning the years and covering all manner of scenes - everything from views of the alps to building roads and railways, right through to photos taken on early exploration trips to the Middle East (the old Palestine in particular).
The views over the city from this lookout were great, although we were disappointed that we still hadn't seen the actual mountains (hidden in the haze).
Looking north - the city centre with the Mole as a backdrop
Looking southwest
The church itself (Santa Maria di Monte dei Cappuccini) is a simple looking building from the outside, but the interior is beautifully decorated,

The interior of the church
A quick note on the food in Torino. Both Lyn & I think that too much is written about food in Italy, but we had a couple of great meals that are worthy of mention - for totally different reasons.
The first night we were there, we decided to have some quick street-food, so we picked out a middle-eastern kebab shop - because we were a bit over pasta and pizza!
We asked for a mixed grill and this is what we got!
The meal was huge, but great. It was like having an Oz BBQ, complete with lamb chops, sausages and salad!
There was quarter of a chicken on each plate along with some shaved kebab and a couple of spicy meat patties, topped off with obligatory chips and basket of bread.
We loved it!

The next night, we headed away from the city centre and found a great little trattoria in a back street. We chose it because Lyn liked the music belting out - 70s stuff - nice!
We ended up going here several times as the food as really good.

It was called "Covo della Taranta". We understood this to mean "Cave of the Tarantula" as it had a big spider over the sign.
I asked the guy who was running it about this and he laughed. He said that he was from Puglia and that, yes, "taranta" means tarantula (a local spider more like a wolf spider), but the name of his trattoria was more about a traditional dance that they have in the town of Taranto in that region - the "tarantella".
Apparently, if people were bitten by the local spider, the poison caused a type of hysteria and this was known as "tarantella" which then became a local dance.

The menu was different every night, very simple, delicious and really cheap.
Below was the seafood menu the second night we went there.

Mussels steamed in white wine and garlic
Lyn had a prawn dish and I had mixed seafood
We had 5 days in Torino and enjoyed every day.

Joanna & Liam's Visit
Lyn's son Liam and his wife came to see us in Florence a couple of weekends ago - and to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary.
They flew in from the UK on Friday afternoon, leaving the kids with the grandparents, so we went out for a meal in a local trattoria that night.
We invited our American friends Vicky & Bob so that they could meet some of our family and we had a good night.

It was very hot on Saturday, so we headed to the pool. Joanna & Liam wanted to chill as they don't often get the chance with their two young children, so we spent the day swimming eating, talking and reading.
We had also arranged for them to go to a good restaurant that night to celebrate their actual anniversary.

On Sunday we went over to Bob & Vicki's apartment which is in the middle of the city with fantastic panoramic views.
Vicki & Bob had left town for a couple weeks away and I had agreed to check that the watering system for their plants was working properly, so we took the opportunity to show Joanna & Liam some of the sights from a really unique vantage point.

It was a short visit for Joanna & Liam as they left on Sunday afternoon, but it was good to see them and they enjoyed their short break away (and a taste of the Italian summer).


  1. Great update. I'm still enjoying keeping up with your blog and all the great places you are seeing. Cheers

  2. I enjoyed this blog - probably because of the reference to Melbourne. Did you get to see the shroud or wasn't it on display? What a great mini-break for Liam and Joanna. They must love you being so relatively close-by! Any plans to stay in Europe longer? See you soon, M.