Torino’s origins are unclear. The land is thought to be originally inhabited by Celtic-Ligurian people until the Romans of Julius Caesar conquered it and funded the colony of Augusta Taurinorum. During the Roman Empire, that colony played an important role as it was located at the end of an important Roman street, the Via Gallica.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Torino was conquered by the Longobards, who made it the capital city of an important duchy, which was later governed by the Savoy. Torino later became an independent municipality but in 1280 it was definitively incorporated in the Duchy of Savoy.
During the following centuries, the Duchy grew until it incorporated the ones of Asti e Monferrato. In the XVIII century, the House of Savoy gained control of Sardinia, but the administration of the two territories was kept separate. The perfect fusion of all the political and administrative aspects of the Reign of Sardinia took place in 1847: even though the formal capital of the Reign was Cagliari, all the decisions were taken in Torino.
Torino was later conquered by Napoleon, who divided Piedmont into six departments. After the Congress of Vienna, the Reign of Sardinia was established again and it also gained the territory of Liguria: the Congress had unwillingly prepared the ground for the unification of Italy. In 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was born and Torino was established as its capital city for some years until Roma was conquered.
In the XIX and XX century Torino started developing as an industrial city. After WWII, the city managed to establish itself as an important industrial pole, attracting numerous workers from Southern Italy and facilitating the creation of new businesses, especially in the car industry.
In 2006, Torino hosted the Winter Olympic Games and in the same year the construction of the first metro line of the city was completed.
Things to see and do in Torino
The city of Torino has a long history, which facilitated the absorption of different cultures, arts and architectural styles. For this reason, Torino has many faces and it had to reinvent itself throughout the centuries.
You can find the main attractions in the sections below.
Mole Antonelliana and the Museum of Cinema
The Mole Antonelliana is surely the symbol of Torino: it was projected by Antonelli and it’s easily recognizable in the skyline. It hosts the National Museum of Cinema, one of the most visited of the city and the only one in Italy dedicated to this art. Visit the website of the Museum to discover more.
Chapel of the Holy Shroud
It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and it is a baroque masterpiece built in black marble with many arches, which create a beautiful light effect on the statues. The chapel hosts the Holy Shroud, an important reliquary to the Christian Religion.
The one in Torino is the second biggest Egyptian museum in the world after the Cairo one. Here you can find many treasures such as statues, sarcophagi, papyri, amulets and mummies. Visit the website of the Egyptian Museum to find out more.
The galleries are passages between palaces, often of a commercial nature, and in Torino there are three of them: the Galleria Umberto I, the Galleria Subalpina and the Galleria San Federico. Their interiors are marvelously decorated and they acquire particular beauty when the sunlight hits them from the glass ceiling.
Piazza San Carlo
Torino is also known for its big and beautiful squares, which host important palaces of the city. Piazza San Carlo is one of the most important: it is also called the “salotto di Torino” (the living room of Torino), due to the important buildings there, such as the twin churches.
It is the heart of the city and it hosts one of the main attractions of Piedmont, the Royal Palace, which is the old residence of the Royal Family of Savoy. In Piazza Castello, you can also find the Teatro Regio and Palazzo Madama, other two buildings with significant historical importance.
Food and wine tradition in Piedmont
Piedmont is a region with a well-known culinary heritage. Piedmont cuisine is very variegated and the wines are among the best ones of the Italian production.
Below you can find some dishes you absolutely have to taste in Piedmont.
It is one of the most famous meals and it is made through the fusion of meat and fish in the same dish. First, the meat is marinated and then cooked. Afterward it’s covered with a sauce made of tuna, eggs, oil, lemon and white wine.
It is a typical dish of the rural tradition, very simple but also very tasty. Bagna Cauda is basically a sauce realized through the slow cooking of garlic, anchovies and oil. It is usually served in clay pots and it is eaten with fresh vegetables.
Agnolotti del plin
It is a type of pasta that is filled with meat. The word “plin” comes from the Piedmont dialect and means “to pinch”, which is basically the way through which this pasta is shaped.
This type of chocolate was created in Torino in 1806 by replacing a part of cocoa with hazelnut, which was cheaper. Gianduia can be eaten in the form of a chocolate bar, little chocolates called “gianduiotti”, or cream.