Population: 60 674 003 inhabitants
Area: 301 340 km2
Time Zone: UTC+1 (CET)
Turin is located in the region of Piedmont, this protected land boasts two national parks: the Gran Paradiso and the Val Grande, as well as the area to the north-east occupied by Lago Maggiore and Lago d'Orta. Piedmont has a diverse climate range. While the north is dominated by the highest mountains of Europe and has a continental climate, the south is only 30 miles from the coast of the region of Liguria with weather influenced by warm Mediterranean sea.
The city of Turin is an important business and cultural center for northern Italy. It's the capital of the region and is located mainly in the left bank of the Po River, in front of the Susa Valley and surrounded by the western Alps. The city has a rich cultural offer: museums, sites and monuments, contemporary art, major events, industrial tourism and the Royal Residences situated in the town centre and the metropolitan area. And then not forgetting the food and the wine offer. Turin, in addition of having been home to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, since the last 10 years has been showing a strong desire of being leader in the Italian panorama, showing a great citizen participation in cultural and sportive events on the field and last year Turin was named European Capital of Sport.
Turin is a city that is still tied to "the factory" schedule, in that people awaken early and rarely turn in too late in the evening, although nightlife seems to have taken hold in recent years, especially in the summer.
Having breakfast out is a habit, especially for those working, allowing them to get back in "contact" with the rest of the world after a night's rest: from 6.30 to 8.30 am, bars churn out coffee, cappuccinos and croissants at full pace, filling the air around with enticing aromas.
Turin's inhabitants eat lunch at home between midday and 1 pm, but many office workers flock to the bars and restaurants from 1 to 2 pm. Some just have a sandwich on the fly, others sit more calmly at the tables (nearly all eateries have tables outside in the summer).
From 7.30 pm onwards, mainly in the large piazzas, along the Po and also in the historic districts of San Salvario and Quadrilatero, the trendiest places fill with the young (and not so young) for a ritual typical to Turin: the aperitif, which often turns into an "apericena" (eating the extensive array of appetisers as supper).
But at these latitudes, dinner is to be savoured slowly and thoughtfully (at home from 7 to 8 pm, eating out from 8 to 8.30 pm), even if it is followed by an evening of theatre, at the cinema or in a bar. And here there is plenty of choice as regards both taste and budget: from the famous, starred restaurants to the typical Piedmont "piole", the traditional pizzerias or the modern hamburger places, to the now widespread ethnic spots and the classic pubs.
Three things you (maybe) don't know about Turin:
1. Turin is Italy's only true royal city
While Rome is associated with Antiquity and Florence with the Renaissance, Turin is Italy's regal city per excellence. Other Italian cities did have their noble dynasties, but these reigned as princes over city-states or as emperors, before the country was unified into the State bearing the name Italy. Only Turin can lay claim to being the first capital of unified Italy, when the Kingdom of Italy was founded in 1861. The city is also the birth town of the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy. Also born here were some of the major political figures and influential thinkers of that time, among whom Cavour, a leading figure in the movement toward Italian unification and Italy's first Prime Minister.
2. Turin is Italy's chocolate capital
Turin is the Italian capital of chocolate. The famous gianduja, a hazelzut and chocolate paste, and the gianduiotti were created here. Originally, they were the direct result of the English embargo on cocoa during the Napoleonic wars. To curb the embargo, Turinese chocolate makers had the idea to mix hazelnuts (which were abundantly available in Piedmont), into the chocolate, creating the famous hazelnut and chocolate mix. Another chocolate-based icon of the city is the bicerin, a favorite drink among Italian and European aristocracy, made of espresso coffee, chocolate and whipped cream.
3. Turin is the birth place of the aperitif
Even if you don't have a sweet tooth, you're still going to love Turin, as it is here that the concept of aperitivo was born. It was in Turin that Gaspare Campari, the inventor of the eponymous drink, did his apprenticeship as maître licoriste in the mid 1800s. The many historic cafés are actually not just caffeine hubs. After work, people gather on delightfully busy terraces of the cafés, chatting and enjoying a "slow drink" with tasteful toasts and appetizers.
When staying in an "unknown" city it is worth also having information about everyday matters, for any sudden and unexpected needs. Here is a list of references that it is useful to keep ready to hand:
The three figures numbers work anywhere in Italy and are absolutely free of charge, even from mobile phones:
- Carabinieri 112
- State Police 113
- Fire Fighters 115
- Health emergencies (ambulances, on-call doctors) 118
- Municipal Police (+39) 011.4606060
Turin has several hospitals located in every part of the city, many of them highly specialised. The main ones are concentrated in what is known as the "Great Hospitals" area: Molinette (the largest in Piedmont and the third largest in Italy), CTO, Regina Margherita, Sant'Anna.
The pharmacies in Turin are generally open from Monday to Saturday from 8/8.30 am to 12/12.30 pm and from 3.30 pm to 7.30 pm, however many of them, particularly in the centre, no longer close for lunch. They can be found in all areas of the city, recognised by the flashing green cross sign.
Post offices can be found in each neighbourhood and are open 8.30 am to 1 pm Monday to Saturday. The Central Post Office is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm and on Saturday from 8.30 am to midday.
Here again you are spoiled of choice, with branches of all the main Italian and foreign banks distributed everywhere and with ATMs available 24/7. The opening times are generally 8.30 am - 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm - 4.30 pm from Monday to Friday. The banks include Allianz Bank, Banque Chaabi du Maroc, Barclays Bank, BNL, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Santander Consumer Bank, UBS, Unicredit.
FOREIGN EXCHANGE OFFICES
Tourists "outside the Euro zone" who want to change their money in other currencies can find many offices throughout the city. Here are the ones in the town centre:
- Forexchange - Porta Nuova Railway Station
- Torino Cambio Srl - Via Sacchi 2
- Giandomenico Varallo Cambiavalute - Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 27
- Cambio Borgarello Marco - Via San Francesco d'Assisi 1
Wi-Fi connectivity is available in certain public areas of the city of Turin for people to have free access to the Internet. For the service it is necessary to register at TorinoFacile, FreeTorinoWiFi and FreeItaliaWiFi. For instructions, see the Turin Municipality website at www.comune.torino.it/wifi.