Torino, capital of Piemonte, sits seemingly within a stone’s throw of the Alps on the banks of the River Po. Once viewed as purely industrial, albeit prosperous, today it’s an elegant city, Italy’s third richest, that combines historic stylishness and culture with 21st century amenities. Penetrate the admittedly dreary suburbs, and you’ll find yourself in a gracious city centre, rich in parks, boulevards and piazze lined with serene palazzi.
Pick of these is Piazza San Carlo, surrounded by arcades housing historic cafés. The French House of Savoy paid for all this, transforming the city in the 17th century and making it fit to become Italy’s first capital in 1861. Don’t miss the Museo Egizio, a world class Egyptian museum, or the Galleria Sabauda, crammed with important paintings. Elsewhere, take in the Mole Antonelliana, Turin’s answer to the Eiffel Tower and now a cinematic museum, or the ex-Fiat motor factory, transformed by architectural superstar Renzo Piano, into an exhibition and shopping centre. There are numerous other churches, museums and distinct neighbourhoods to explore and football to experience – Juventus and Torino are local teams. Remember too, that chocolate and alcohol are local products, Turin is home to Martini.