From piazza Castello to the Po River
Piazza Castello*** is the heart of the city and the perfect location for a journey through the ages. It represents the historical, political and administrative centre of the old capital of the Kingdom of Savoy. Surrounded by porticoes, its center is dominated by the imposing medieval castle that retains two of its original typical corner towers. The building has been built on top of the Roman Western Gate and fortification walls, remnants of which are still visible at the ground level. The west side of the castle was later rebuilt into a magnificent baroque facade and building, serving as the seat of the first Italian Senate and named Palazzo Madama***. The palace houses the Museo Civico di Arte Antica*, a large collection of paintings, statues, church ornaments, porcelain, and decorative art, mostly from the late Middle Ages to the 18th Century. The hall of the palace and the two awesome staircases** ending up in the superior vestibule, extraordinary creation of the architect Filippo Juvarra. The other famous palace of the square is Palazzo Reale**, the official residence of the Savoy royal family until 1865. In 1946 the palace was claimed by the Italian Republic and turned into a "Museum of the Life and Works of the House of Savoy". Its rooms are decorated with rich tapestries and a collection of Chinese and Japanese vases. In 1997 it’s been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list along with other residences of the House of Savoy. All public museums (the Royal Gardens, the Royal Library, the Royal Armoury, the new Savoy Gallery, the Archaeological Museum and Chiablese Palace) led by Palazzo Reale are connected in a network called Polo Reale***. Just face to Palazzo Madama is the church of San Lorenzo** (Guarino Guarini, 1666) with an astonishing baroque interior.
Via Po** leads off from piazza Castello to the Po River and offers a perfect opportunity to enjoy a stroll down the wide porticoed street characterized by antique shops, bookstores and some of the most historic premises such as Caffè Fiorio and Pasticceria Ghigo. Buildings of particular interest include Palazzo dell’Università erected in 1720 (via Po 12) and the elegant building of 1624 housing the Museo di Arti Decorative* – Fondazione Accorsi (via Po 55), home to the collection of Italian and foreign furniture and furnishings of the late antique dealer and art connoisseur Pietro Accorsi. Via Po ends in Piazza Vittorio Veneto**, a spacious square, originally used for military training and parades, surrounded on three sides by porticoed buildings and by the Po river on the fourth side. The bridge built during the Napoleonic period crosses to the church of Gran Madre di Dio. The square is also popular for the cafés and wine bars open all hours of the day.
Not far from Via Po stands the symbol of Torino, namely the Mole Antonelliana**, so named after the architect who built it, Alessandro Antonelli. Construction began in 1863 as a Jewish synagogue. Nowadays it houses the National Museum of Cinema** and it is the tallest museum in the world (167 metres), with sections dedicated to the historical origins of film making, the history of photography, and collection of posters, advertising material and props. Take the fast panoramic lift inside the Mole to enjoy a dazzling bird’s eye view of the city and the Alps from 85 meters up.