Palazzos, The Mole, and the cold!

Turin Travel Blog

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Palazzo Reale

I woke up to cloudy and cold….really cold! It looked like one of those days that you just don’t leave the house I took my shower and got ready for my day. Marco had gone to take the ladies to the train station. Their train was delayed so, he was a bit late returning. When he returned he made me some tea and we chatted a bit…..actually a long time. I was still tired from the previous day’s journey and dragging.

I looked over my desires and at the map, as well, and made a plan for the day, trying to  be efficient with my time and logical order to my day.

I left the house and headed to Via Garibaldi to make my way to the Piazza Castello and the tourist information center.

Gate panel from Palazzo Reale

The Via Garibaldi is a pedestrian street that is the “mall” of Torino. People tend to gather here. Near to the Piazza was a demonstration by locals against VAT tax. Good luck with that!!!

At the tourist info center, I bought a museum card. At 20 euro for 2 days it covered it covered the 5 times that I used it that would have been 32 euro. That’s a pretty good deal.

My first stop was at the Palazzo Reale. Give a bit of history. They require that you be with a guide to visit the Palazzo but, the only tours being offered right now are in Italian. So, to have any information on the palazzo I needed to purchase the use of an audio guide. So, I followed along with the group and was in my own little world with my headphones on.

The Palazzo Reale was the site that was once part of an old BIshop's palace in the center of the new capital of Savoy, Turin.

The two design styles of Palazzo Madama
 From this palace, the Duke was able to monitor the two entrances of the city - the Palatine and Pretoria gates.

They require that your visit be guided and were only offering the visit in Italian. They do offer an audio guide that you can take along for the journey. The house is not heated was very, very cold. It made for an uncomfortable experience but, I am glad to have seen and learned more about it.

The rooms were a unique collection of differing styles, all creative in their expression. I wish I had been able to take pictures as there were so many inspiring elements of the decor.

From here, it was back out into the cold. I walked into the piazza and then behind the Palazzo Madama, a very interesting building in that it is of on century in back and the façade is many centuries newer.

One of the corners of the old city fortifications

I continued behind and into the GIardi Reale and found a distant view of the Mole Antonelianna. What a building. I’ve wanted to see it up close for a long time. Also, in this area, you can see the old fortification walls and two of the corner guard structures. One of them had been painted to be quite colorful. The other, a bit more hidden, was unembellished brick.

Cotinuning on to the west I reach the Porta Palatina. Give a bit of history. It’s a bit of a shell of a former something grand…now abandoned….sad.

Across from it is Piazza San Giovanni where the Cattredale di San Giovanni Battista, which was currently closed in preparation for the viewing of the great Shroud of Turin. That will be available for viewing by reservation beginning April 10 through May 23.

Porta Palatina
The next time it will be available for viewing will be in 2020.

Making the round back to Piazza Castello, I decided to visit the Palazzo Madama. Give a bit of history on the Palazzo. The front staircase alone is worth a look. It is definitely one of the grand ones.

I entered the museum and put my coat and backpack away. I assumed that as in most museums on this trip, this one wouldn’t allow photography. Also, given that there was no visible audio guides;, I assumed that they didn’t offer one. The girl who assisted me at the counter never even spoke to me during the transaction. She should have / could have asked if I wanted an audio guide as it became obvious that guides were available (headphone symbols and numbers on exhibits). Also, I saw numerous people taking pictures but, that wasn’t until quite a bit later in the museum….aarrgghh!!!

They have an enviable collection of religious paintings, carvings and altar pieces from the Piedemonte area from the 14th century onward with a few pieces much, much older.

Cattedrale Di San Giovanni Battista
There is also a collection of Baroque era items from art, furniture, and sculpture to sedan chairs, lavatories, and architectural models used as blue prints for palace construction.

I have to come back, tomorrow and take some pictures. They also have a special exhibition of table wear from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was that of the Czar Nicholas II.

From the Palazzo Madama I walked down the Via Roma’s fabulous arcades to the Piazza San Carlo to see the Twin Churches. They aren’t actually twins at there are distinct differences between them.

Chisea di San Carlo is on the right. It was built in 1619 for the Barefoot Augustinians, a religious order under the patronage of the Savoys, and dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo.

The twin churches of Piazza San Carlo
Construction of this church and it’s twin the Santa Christina were requested by the Duke in order to provide an architectural feature stately enough to close the splendid new royal square, Piazza Reale (today’s Piazza San Carlo). The San Carlo wasn’t given it’s final façade until 1834 but, would be modified over the centuries and even be partially demolished in 1935 - 1937 to  make way for a wider Via Roma Nuova. The bell tower was added in 1779. The grey granite is from the Susa Valley and the white stone of Gassino.

I was able to go inside of Chisea de Santa Christina which has a dark, rich, heavy Baroque interior.

Back down the Via Roma to the Via Po but, stopping along the way for window shopping at the many sweet treat shops. Torino produces its own chocolate which is frequently handmade into delicacies and quite tasty and expensive.

View of Torino from Gran Madre Di Dio (across the River Po)
As expected, many, many other sweets can be found as Italians love their sweets, I can attest to that.

I walked the Via Po down to the Po River and across to the other side. At the Piazza Gran Madre Di Dio I entered the church upon the hill, the classically domed church of the same name. It is Neo-Roman style has a simplistic feel with its mostly monotone decoration. The view from the front steps it that if the city’s buildings mostly at one level and the Mole Antonellianna dramatically piercing Torino’s heart.

Back across the Po, I weaved through the well thought out grid of streets to get to the Mole. In person, this is even more impressive of a building than in pictures. As the largest brick building in Europe, it’s lower section looks to be a stately mansion but then the dramatic dome and spire make it an unusual mixture of Neo- classic and the indefinable.

Center space within the Mole Antonelliana (Cinema Museum)
It is truly amazing and unique.

Inside is housed the National Cinema Museum. Now, I didn’t expect much from that but, I had the museum card and decided to take a chance on it, at least I would get to see the whole building this way.

It is actually fantastic. It traces cinema back thousands of years to the Chinese finger puppet shows and mechanical paper puppet art. There is a tremendous collection of equipment and they even go through the how and why our eyes and brains interpret images the way they do.

In the main hall section there are some special props and miniatures that were important to their respective films such as; the gremlin form Gremlins, a dinosaur from Jurassic Park, the cape of superman from the 1978 Superman movie, and even and alien costume from Aliens.

One of the movie genre rooms at the Cinema Museum

There is a poster gallery that spans  several floors and leads you down to the central open space with many theme rooms set up such as horror, drama, and action. They are creatively designed with a unique and appropriate look to each setting.

In the center is set up two areas with comfy lounges with integrated speakers around your head. As you lay back and enjoy, you have two different movies being screened depending on the area you lay in. There are large screens hung from the other side of the space, it is a unique viewing experience. Also visible while laying down, is the whole interior dome and it’s panoramic lift as it takes people to it’s heights! As the weather was miserable and foggy, I would wait until the next day for the lift.

Outside the sun was setting and the Mole was flooded with light.

Dome of the Mole Antonelliana
It made for some interesting pictures of the landmark.

I walked through the Piazza Castello on my way back to the B&B and it, as well, was nicely lit and full activity. The protest was still going strong.

I stopped for another church along the Via Garibaldi. Another Neo-Classic styled gem with dark, rich interior and heavy detailing. It has a fantastic frescoed dome that has been made dim by the ravages of time but, still amazing.

I returned to the room. Marco went out to dinner with his family and I picked up Italian take out made my the Chinese people at he restaurant on the ground floor.

I worked on the blog a bit but mostly just relaxed and enjoyed my beautiful surroundings.

Church on the Via Garibaldi, near the Piazza Castello

When Marco returned, I heard much noise coming from the living room. I found him sitting in the middle of the floor with a manual and looking defeated. He was trying to install a new piece to his entertainment system that he had in the closet for a year. He decided that he had enough for the day and asked if I wanted to watch the movie. Quantum of Solace was playing as he was trying to make the necessary adjustments. So, we watched until he was falling asleep and I was about to…..time for bed!

I hoped for better weather, tomorrow. Off to sleep!

delsol67 says:
Harriet, I don't think that there is a higher compliment that can be paid. I am so inspired by what I experience, I am so happy to share that feeling with you and others. Thank you, again.

Posted on: Feb 04, 2010
Africancrab says:
O Brian, I do not compliment many people about writing, you have earned it. I think in writing about your experience, you are actually being a history teacher. There are many who will never go to the places you write about, me iincluded. so I love reading about them because your writing inspires . . . Keep traveling I say. Kudos!
Posted on: Feb 04, 2010
delsol67 says:
You are very kind, Harriett!!! I am no writer and sometimes I feel that I write just toooooo much! I do feel that it's important to tell what I think and experience and also to give information (history, culture, details) for those who maybe know little or nothting about the destination. Maybe, I should become a history or geography teacher, when I'm done with this travel, I think I will just keep traveling..haha
Posted on: Feb 04, 2010
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Palazzo Reale
Palazzo Reale
Gate panel from Palazzo Reale
Gate panel from Palazzo Reale
The two design styles of Palazzo M…
The two design styles of Palazzo …
One of the corners of the old city…
One of the corners of the old cit…
Porta Palatina
Porta Palatina
Cattedrale Di San Giovanni Battista
Cattedrale Di San Giovanni Battista
The twin churches of Piazza San Ca…
The twin churches of Piazza San C…
View of Torino from Gran Madre Di …
View of Torino from Gran Madre Di…
Center space within the Mole Anton…
Center space within the Mole Anto…
One of the movie genre rooms at th…
One of the movie genre rooms at t…
Dome of the Mole Antonelliana
Dome of the Mole Antonelliana
Church on the Via Garibaldi, near …
Church on the Via Garibaldi, near…
photo by: aleksflower