A Northern Italy City Break to Turin


journey profile

Where: Turin, Italy. Europe.
When: December 2001
What: Le Mole - the tallest museum in the world, the Turin Shroud, River Po, Castle Square, my inaugural trip abroad as an adult.
Country counter: No. 1
How: Flight and lots of walking in the frozen snow.
Illnesses or mishaps: Staying in a cheap hotel on the edge of Turin's red light district in the hope of saving money; completely miscalculating the weather and arriving without sufficient clothing to keep warm.

Turin, whilst not immediately eliciting gasps of admiration from people you tell about your visit holds a special significance for me. This was my first foreign trip as an adult and, therefore, represents the start of what quickly became a life-long obsession with world travel. Admittedly a rather inauspicious start, Turin, the capital of Italy's Piedmont region and a key business centre for the country, is important on a personal level for it was the little acorn which grew into a beautiful travel tree. Unfortunately for me, and this Travel Chronicle, my city break to Turin coincided with the age of the 35mm camera so my photographs of our time in the city are grainy and few and far between. This is regrettable but certainly help to tell something of the longevity of my travels since this early starting point - a historical reminder of how long ago this was.

Turin was certainly cold. We heaped layers on ourselves after flying out to the northern Italian city in December. Walking around like marshmallow men in a vain attempt to keep the cold well and truly out, and armed with a second-hand copy of the Rough Guide to Italy, we set about exploring what Turin had to offer. Turin resides along the River Po. Like other major cities, it also has its iconic buildings. Turin's Mole Antonelliana building is truly bizarre, looking not unlike some kind of organic entity which has slowly grown beyond its limits by adding layer upon layer each year. Completed in 1889 it was initially used as a synagogue having been funded by the large Jewish population in the city. It is quite a sight to behold looking, as it does, so peculiar. Its most notable accolade is that it is reputed to be the tallest museum in the world. As budget conscious travellers, we booked accommodation in a less than desirable area meaning that we would have to walk past 'ladies of the night' in order to get to and from our hotel. This being the dead of winter also meant that this walk took place in complete darkness, with only a few insufficient yellowy street lamps lighting the way.


turin shroud tower

The tower housing the Turin Shroud.

le mole turin

Le Mole - the tallest museum in the world.

castle square turin

Turin Castle in Castle Square.


A very wintry looking River Po.

Standing on heaped snow in Turin Square.




travel tips, links & resources

  • Turin is home to the famous shroud which, periodically, is put on display. Check before you depart to see if a rare exhibition coincides with your travel dates.
  • Sample some of the excellent coffee available in multifarious cafes and street restaurants - it's some of the best coffee I've ever tasted. Be sure to set aside plenty of non-sightseeing to check out the city's coffee shops and watch the world go by.
  • If you're a cult classic film fan then checking out the locations where the iconic British film 'The Italian Job' was made may appeal to you. Be sure to do your research before you set off.


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