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The beautiful Alps rise to the northwest of the city


Wonderful Turin

Turin is a city with a lot to offer. The historic center is broken up by arcaded streets, welcoming squares and refined galleries. The Baroque churches and palaces intertwine with old-fashioned coffee bars, galleries and the tree-lined, flower-bedded squares. A series of mountains and hills closes in the plain in which this large working city is situated. Despite the flat geographical position, Turin has maintained an alpine feel that distinguishes it from any other modern European city. The city's classic shopping street is Via Roma, the heart and symbol of the city centre. Under its porticoes - that in all the city stretch for over forty kilometres along a route that is unique in Europe - shoppers can stroll past the beautifully, displayed windows of the city's most exclusive retail outlets, protecyted against the winter storms and the summer heat. Here, the most important names in fashion display every type of garment, leather goods and clothes accessories in an almost uninterrupted sequence that can stand comparison with the most prestigious shopping streets in the world. What also makes shopping in Turin such a unique pleasure is the possibility to take time out in one of the innumerable historic Cafès along the streets of the centre. These too are treasures no visitor should miss with their marble counters and antique furnishing, not to mention the extraordinary range of snacks and canapés they offer at cocktail time.

Adjacent to Via Roma, there is more shopping to be enjoyed. One experience not to be missed is a detour to the Subalpina and San Federico Arcades, where the superlative elegance of the architecture, that blends so harmoniously into the fabric of the city centre, is matched by the exquisite contents of the shops.In the historical city center, there is an intricate tangle of narrow streets - Via Barbaroux, Via San Tommaso and Via Monte di Pietà, rich with a little old-fashioned shops selling haberdashery, wine, local gastronomic delicacies, cakes and costume jewellery.

There is also the alternative Turin, where it is possible to find silvermiths and leather workshops selling their own creations, bookbinders, tailors and dress makers. In this area, tradition goes hand in hand with a truly metropolitan sophistication. But Turin shopping doesn't stop here. This is shopping for the blasé and intellectual, an area that surprises also the most demanding and sophisticated of keen international shoppers.

Here, one shopping expedition ends only to begin another as the square leads you across the River Po to an area of attractive shops and handicraft workshops of high quality, in the small streets at the base of the hill overlooking Turin.

The first is the Museo Egizio, generally considered the most important museum of Egyptian antiquities ouside of Egypt. The second is the Galleria Sabauda, an outstanding art gallery built around the collection of the Savoy family. Nearby you can also find the Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento, dedicated to Turin's role in the unification of Italy, and the Palazzo Reale, the Savoy royal palace whose gardens are of particular interest. Turin's most intriguing site may be the Duomo, best known for housing the Shroud of Turin: the linen cloth that appears to have an imprint of the image of the crucified Christ.

The Royal Residences

The Savoy residences are found far beyond Turin's city limits, as far away as the Canavese, Cuneo and Langhe regions. Here is what you need to see for a complete tour over the course of several days: Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi, Palazzo Reale, Reggia di Venaria Reale, Castello del Valentino, Palazzo Madama, Palazzo Carignano, Villa della Regina, Castello de La Mandria, Castello di Rivoli, Castello Reale di Racconigi, Castello di Moncalieri, Castello di Pollenzo, Castello Ducale di Aglié, Castello di Govone.

Toward the middle of the 18th-century, the estates of the House of Savoy became exclusive places for recreation, hunting and for the growing of carefully-selected crops. The Racconigi, Pollenzo, Govone and La Mandria residences became known as "Royal holiday resorts". When the House of Savoy's surrender and transferal of property to state ownership in the 19th and 20th-centuries, all the royal buildings became museums. Each residence unveils the intriguing life of dukes, warrior kings, art lovers and collectors, refined educated royal ladies who enjoyed ballet and theater, architects, painters and writers. The royal residence tour can lay claim to an impressive historical, artistic and environmental heritage.

Gran Paradiso National Park

The area of the Gran Paradiso consists of tall mountains with altitudes ranging from 800 meters to Gran Paradiso's 4,000-meter peak. Park vegetation is mainly made up of of alpine prairies, glaciers and lark, red fir and white fir woods. The park's animal symbol is the ibex a species that was in danger of extinction near the end of the 18th century and then protected by the Royal Decree of 1821. This act created an initiative to establish the park and led to the ibex's re-population of this entire alpine area. The Paradisia botanical garden located inside the park was founded in 1955 and is home to 1,500 species.

The area has several points of interest. The main one is the Gran Piano di Noasca, which is one of the least-known areas and an ideal destination for visitors who want to observe herds of chamois and ibexes grazing in their natural habitat. Here the meadows are rich in water courses often covered by eriophores. A wonderful walk connects the hill of Nivolet with the Gran Piano, allowing the view on the Orco Valley. The Piano del Nivolet is one of the most interesting tablelands of the Alps, developing for over six kilometers at an alt. of 2,500 meters. Crossing the red fir and larch wood, the Orvieille-Lago Djouan is the ancient road which runs King Vittorio Emanuele II used to run by coach until it reaches his most famous country house, Orvieille.

Today, near the palace, there is the park guards seat. From this area, and from the wonderful lake of Djouan, it is possible to enjoy a great view on the glaciers and peaks of the Gran Paradiso. The excursion leading from Valnontey to the "Vittorio Sella" refuge is the most famous of the Park. In the evening or in the early morning, it is easy to approach the steinbocks. Worthwhile is also the visit to the country houses of Herbetet which has the wonderful view on the glaciers. The path, endowed with iron ropes, requires a certain care. On the left side of the valley at Valle di Campiglia, at the foot of a great perpendicular mass, the ancient Sanctuary of S. Besso was built. Every year on Aug. 10th, the populations of Val Soana and Cogne, on the aostan slopes, climb up to 2,000 meters of the Santuary for a great celebration. An interesting occasion for the tourist, too. In the zone there are numerous excursion tracks.

The "Langhe"

Located among castles, palaces and other reminders of the past, the Langhe is an area of lovely hills almost entirely devoted to the cultivation of wine grapes and hazelnuts. It is the home of Fenoglio and Pavese, great Piedmont writers who described the Langhe as a true landscape of the soul.

Even without the magnificent view of vineyards, the production of some of the best vintage wines in the world, and the immortalisation of the area by Pavese and Fenoglio, the Langhe would still be a magical place, with castles and villages resting on a series of hills overlooking the Alps to the west and the sea to the south. Pavese wrote wonderful descriptions of the area, with its charm and difficulty that characterised the lives of the locals over the centuries -this is a land of people who can draw succulent grapes out of a mean and rugged land.

Cherasco, a town suspended on top of a high plain, has an elegant town center completely enclosed by ruins of ancient star-shaped walls. In Bene Vagienna, you can visit the excavations of the Roman city of Augusta Bagiennorum in the Roncaglia hamlet.

To reach the heart of the Langhe, go down to the Tanaro Valley, up to La Morra with its breathtaking view and continue to Barolo, which lends its name to the famous wine produced here. After passing the villages of Monforte d'Alba and Roddino, take the small road to Serralunga d'Alba and its beautiful castle. Then go down to Sorano and Gallo d'Alba, then up again to the Castle of Grinzane Cavour, the 13th century home of the famous Piedmontese which houses the Cavour literary prize.

Alba, the nearby capital of the Langhe, has elegant shops along narrow streets you can buy local produce including nougat, high quality wines and truffles. Nowdays, truffles are a most demanded product on the world market. While its scientific name is "tuber magnatum Pico"; it is a mushroom that belongs to the ascominoceti. Depending to the tree under which it grows (oak, salice, tiglio) can be qualitatively different in fineness and intensity of scent. The dimensions of the truffle are one important characteristic because they are rare over over the 500 grams. And their value is remarkablly advanced to equal weight, but formed from various tartufi.

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore, or Verbano, is a lake in northeastern Piedmont on the borders of Lombardy and Switzerland, and is the second largest Italian lake after Lake Garda with a surface area of 2,122 square kilometers and a maximum width of 4.5 kilometers. Of its 166 km of coastline, only the northern section (42 km) belongs to Switzerland. Lake Maggiore is very accessible - it is located on the big Simplon route, served by international roads and railroads. The nearby airports of Malpensa and Linate (Milan) provide rapid and convenient connections. All the establishments on the lake are connected by the frequent and punctual ferry service of Navigazione Lago Maggiore.

Blessed with a mild climate, which is perceptible in winter too, it has excellent hotel facilities (Stresa has the only five-star hotel in Piedmont) and several campgrounds. Lake Maggiore is a very popular tourist spot where world famous establishments can be found along the shores: there is Stresa, which a modern cableway links to the ski slopes of Mottarone, Arona, Belgirate, Baveno, Verbania, Intra, Cannero Riviera and Cannobio, among others.