Five free things to do in Turin
If you ask me, Turin is one of the most underrated cities in Italy. Rich, refined, charming with a few subversive elements. Here’s my list of five free things to do in Turin.
Just back from a wonderful stay in the capital of Piedmont, I’m fascinated by Turin’s wealth of attractions. And even though it is a very refined and affluent city, I have managed to accumulate a long list of free things to do in Turin. Something to do, when you are not sampling cafes, visiting museums, attending cooking classes dedicated to the art of chocolate making, taking guided walks, studying the mysterious Shroud or visiting Unesco World Heritage sites in the area.
Enjoy the park life
Turin is one of the greenest cities of Italy in terms of gardens, parks and tree-lined avenues. It also holds the record in children’s playgrounds with a total of 240 playgrounds spread across the city. My favourite park for laid back relaxation and people watching is the Parco del Valentino with its phony Medieval castle, classic concrete fountain, packs of families and students under shady trees and a view of the Po where rowers in slim racing boats keep fit.
Turin’s Porta Palazzo market is considered one of the largest in Europe with more than a thousand mobile stalls spread out over an area of 50 000 m2. Here you can find every kind of food and vegetables from pigs feet to acacia flowers, and get lost in clothes, household appliances and a friendly multi-ethnic atmosphere. The market is open all days except Sundays.
Watch out for the bulls
In Italian Torino means little bull, and therefore the bull has become the emblem of the city. As such it can be found everywhere – in sculptures, walkways and roof supporting friezes. Look for the bull’s head fountains if you are thirsty and would like a free drink of water, or grind the bull’s private parts with your right heel for luck when you see it in the pavement.
Shopping in the rain
Turin has 18 km of arcades many of which are interconnected so you can walk around window shopping without being bothered by rain, sun or motorized traffic. The arcades vary a great deal in design and the first of them were built from the royal palace to Piazza Vittorio Veneto so that King Vittorio Emanuele I and his court and courtiers could promenade to the Po without being subject to the capriciousness of the weather.
Public living rooms
All around Turin there’s a series of stunningly beautiful piazzas where you can sit down on a bench and breathe the atmosphere. Take a walk from Piazza Castello to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Piazza Carlo Alberto and Piazza San Carlo with suitable breaks along the way. Or seek out the historic galleries in case of rain. Galleria Subalpina houses one of Turin’s oldest and best known cafés under a magnificent cast iron and glass roof. Galleria San Federico is reminiscent of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan and home to some expensive brands and stores. And Galleria Umberto I in Porta Palazzo serves as the inner city’s largest “shopping mall”