Foto: torinoinfoto_ / Artwork: EIN

Turin 2022: the history and the places about the Eurovision 2022 host city you don’t know yet

Last time we talked about food, but now it’s time to discover more about the history and the unknown places of Turin!

That’s why we called Stefano Rattalino, a man from piedmontese Cuneo province who lives in Turin. Stefano runs an Instagram profile called “Torino in Foto“, which we recommend you to take a look at, where he shows us some unknown and bewitching glimpses of the city! Let’s discover them together!

The interview 💬

Hi Stefano! Can you tell us something about you and your relationship with Turin?

Hi! I’m Stefano I’m 30 y.o and I’ve known Turin for about ten years, and now I’m established here. Even if my first memories about Turin are from my childhood, since I have some relatives who live here, I’ve known the city during my University years. I had to move from Cuneo to Turin to give some exams, and it was the opportunity to get to know this city, which has many silver linings and I was amazed by its rich cultural offer.

You are very fond and kinda expert about Turin’s history! Can you tell us some curious historical facts about this city?

Turin was born as a military camp, founded by the Romans. In fact, its original name was Augusta Taurinorum, and its citizens were called “taurini”. The symbol of Turin, the famous “Toro”(Taurus ndr.), came from this original name. The symbol of the taurus is disseminated all around the city, on the famous public fountains and also outside the Einaudi University. Even its very straight and regular structure is due to its original roman layout.

The Mole Antonelliana

About some curious facts, I can tell you the story of the Mole: designed by the architect Alessandro Antonelli, from whom it takes its name, it was born as an Israelite temple, but no one liked it.

Its shape reminded the Eiffel Tower, but unlike this one which is a simple iron structure, the Mole is also made of bricks and it was a very coveted and avant-garde project at the time. Despite the opponents, it has gradually become the symbol of the city par excellence. In 1953 it risked being destroyed by an extraordinary hurricane that struck the city, which however broke the spire. This was repeared and replaced by the star we still can see today.

Torre Littoria

Another monument with a controversial history is the Torre Littoria, also known as “the finger of the Duce” (the name used to refer to Mussolini during fascism ndr.), which is located in Piazza Castello.
It was the first skyscraper in Turin, and it was built in the middle of the fascist era. No one liked this monument that pointed towards the sky (like a finger ndr.), breaking the regularity of the buildings and the straight and ordered lines of the streets.

Basilica of Superga

Also about the Basilica of Superga, which is located in the pre-hilly area, there is a pretty uknown fact to tell: the Basilica was built by Prince Eugene and Duke Vittorio Amedeo II to make a vow to the Virgin Mary. The structure was made by the architect Filippo Juvarra, who had lowered the hill to build the Basilica, since the ground was steep. It was believed that the vow kept, would help the Savoy to protect Turin by the assault of the French troops.

Through your Instagram account Torino in Foto, you show us some uknown and particular glimpses. Which places you suggest to visit which are not mainstream and known by tourists?

Firstly even if it’s very touristic, I would recommend to visit the whole old town city. Other places to visit from the city center are Borgo Po, Vanchiglia. But also Crocetta district (which is located slightly decentralized from the historic center, near Porta Nuova train station), deserves to be visited for its rich Art Nouveau buildings. Not far from the historic center there is “Casa Fenoglio La Fleur”, which looks more like a mansion than a house, looking at its size!

It is also a symbol of Art Nouveau style. It was a new and unusual building for its time, and created dissent among people, but years after years it has slowly entered among the symbols of the city. Then, Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Madama and the Accorsi-Ometto Museum, deserve to be visited.

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The founders of the homonyms museum Accorsi-Ometto
Discover the most beautiful piece of furniture

The latter was created by the two collectors from whom the museum takes its name.They traveled around Europe in search of the finest pieces. After having collected so many pieces of furniture, like paintings and furnishings of different value, they decided to create this house-museum, to contain all the objects. Among the many you can admire the most beautiful piece of furniture in the world.

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The most beautiful forniture in the world in the Accorsi-Ometto Museum | ©️ Stefano Rattalino

This furniture is made of ivory and mother-of-pearl, in addition to the precious wood and turtle.
It was made by different masters cabinetmakers, including Pietro Piffetti and Gabriele Capello, who worked for the Savoy family. In addition to the places already mentioned, Casa della Vittoria, known as the palace of dragons (not far from the center ed.), is also worth admiring.

Even if you have already talked about food, I would like to suggest two places related to chocolate. Chocolate was brought by the Savoy and originally it was an aristocratic drink, and has become a tradition of Turin. Among the many master chocolatiers, I have to mention two historic chocolate shops.

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Subalpina Gallery which connect Piazza Castello to Piazza Carlo Alberto | ©️ Stefano Rattalino

The chocolate shop of Guido Gobino, in Via Cagliari 15 / b, where the factory is located and the historic headquarter can be visited by reservation, while the shops are located in Via Lagrange 1 / A and C.so Vittorio Emanuele II, 72. Another historical chocolate shop is Peyrano, located in Corso Mocalieri, 47.

Turin lived a leaving off period, according to you, the city is now rising again?

At the moment Turin is looking for a new look, a new identity. We are looking for a different approach to industry, such as the service sector, food, tourist attractions, museums, hospitality. From the 800 until the early 2000s I dare say, Turin had its own identity and was the industrial city par excellence, thanks to the most important industries located in the area, first of all Fiat.
Unfortunately, after the 2006 Winter Olympics, Turin experienced a period of flattening. Plus, there were two events that brought the identity of the city into crisis: the pandemic and the tragedy of Piazza San Carlo. These two fateful events have confused the city and made it loose its verve. Turin is looking for a new itself, and we have to help it, but the ingredients to bring it back into vogue are all there.

Through your Instagram page, you let us know Turin better. What should we expect from this city?

I would like to point out that I am not a professional photographer. I created the page by putting together two subjects: Turin, of course, and photography. I am self-taught, I do not know the techniques of photographing. When something grabs my attention, I just photograph it! My only “trick” is to take advantage of the light and use an iPhone! It all started in a very true and spontaneous way and I hope that those who will visit the page understand it.

Answering to your question: those who visit Turin must know that they’re visiting a city full of things to see and that has nothing to envy to the other larger cities. Unfortunately, Turin is not very well known abroad, and this is a lack that only political institutions can cope with, doing more campaigning and sponsoring the city more. We can say that Piedmont does not know how to sell itself, and it is a pity. But as I said, it is a political topic and it is up to the institutions. Like all cities, Turin has some challenges to face, such as safety and management of the suburbs, but it is certainly a city that can boast its positive sides, and those who visit it will find the great hospitality and courtesy of Piedmont people.

Before leaving, how would you describe Turin in few words?

I would like to use a quote from the philosopher Nietzsche, who lived in Turin and more exactly in via Carlo Alberto:

Turin is not a place that you can leave.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Surely, those who will come to visit Turin will come back.

Thanks to Stefano for his time and for making us known better this wonderful city!

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