Things to Do in Piedmont & Liguria - page 2
The soaring square dome and spire of the Mole Antonelliana is Turin’s most recognizable landmark and home to the National Cinema Museum, where the vast collection of silver-screen memorabilia draws film buffs from around the world. Take the glass elevator to the top of the dome for sweeping views across the city.
The sprawling port city of Genoa (Genova) is made up of a number of distinct neighborhoods, each with its own history and identity. One of these is Boccadasse, set on the waterfront to the east of the city center. Once a tiny fishing village, it is now a delightfully colorful and quaint quarter to explore on foot.
Among the most striking buildings on Turin’s Piazza Castello, Palazzo Madama is half fortified medieval castle and half sumptuous baroque palace. The building now houses the city’s Civic Museum of Ancient Art (Museo Civico di Arte Antica), with a sprawling collection spanning from the Roman era to the 18th century.
Home to the Museo di Arte Contemporanea (Museum of Contemporary Art) since 1984, this restored royal Savoy residence outside Turin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the sumptuous castle interiors, visit contemporary exhibitions, and view the remarkable Cerruti Collection of art spanning seven centuries, set to be unveiled in 2019.
Though it may not have the star power of Versailles, this baroque palace just north of Turin is one of the largest royal residences in the world. Built as a lavish hunting lodge, the building and its sweeping grounds have been completely restored and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular excursion from Turin.
The Carignano Palace (Palazzo Carignano) is one of Turin’s most majestic squares and is overlooked by the equally handsome, redbrick and white alabaster palace of the same name. Built between 1679 and 1685 by Baroque maestro Guarino Guarini as one of the royal homes of the ruling Savoy dukes, the Palazzo Carignano gained huge national significance when in 1861 it became the occasional home of Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II, following the Unification struggles that began in 1848. The palazzo now houses the Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento as well as the elaborate, circular meeting rooms that were briefly the location of Italy’s first united government, which was formed in 1861 and lasted four years.
Palazzo Carignano first became a museum in 1908; it was originally housed in the Mole Antonelliana – now the city’s film museum – but moved to its present site in 1938. After a period of closure for the revamping of the collections, it reopened in 2011 and now showcases the events that brought about the Risorgimento (literally ‘resurgence’ in English), with a series of 30 ornately decorated apartments leading chronologically through the various military and political battles as the country headed towards unification. Displays of uniforms, dramatic equine portraits of war heroes, weapons, flags, maps, and correspondence reveal feats of bravery as visitors discover the disjointed, disillusioned Italy of the 19th century, accompanied by informative multi-lingual films giving the background to each stage of the campaign.
Turin’s oldest public park, theValentine Park (Parco del Valentino) is also one of the city’s prettiest green spaces. Measuring nearly 125 acres (50.5 hectares), the landmark made its debut in 1852 and hugs the River Po. In addition to prime picnicking turf, the park also contains attractions ranging from a replica medieval village to the grand Castello del Valentino.
Ringed by neoclassical buildings, flanked by busy roads, and crowned with a statue that commemorates the workers who built the trans-Alpine Fréjus Rail Tunnel, the Piazza Statuto is one of Turin’s most prominent public squares. Completed in 1865, it was built while Turin was the newly formed Kingdom of Italy’s first capital city.
Genoa’s Palazzi dei Rolli are a group of 42 residences, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, that were listed on the city’s register. When notable guests came to visit Genoa on a state visit, a lottery was used to determine which palace would host the guest. Today, these palaces—out of 163 total homes—are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The longest river in Italy, the Po River (Fiume Po) flows down from the Alps near the French border for more than 400 miles (644 kilometers), winding its way east through Turin, Piacenza, and Ferrara and connecting to Milan via a network of canals before emptying into the Adriatic Sea. The Po Valley is one of Italy’s most fertile and lush regions.
More Things to Do in Piedmont & Liguria
Get a taste of Savoy wealth and power by visiting the Royal Church of San Lorenzo (Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo), adjacent to the Royal Palace in Turin. Dating from the 17th century, this baroque jewel has ornate interiors covered in art, gilt, and marble—all topped by a soaring dome. The high altar is considered among the most exquisite in Italy.
Genoa has been known for its connection to the water for centuries, and one of the best views of the Mediterranean Sea can be found along the Corso Italia promenade. The 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) stretch of sidewalk curves around the coastline with ample space for walking, jogging, and even sunbathing on the beaches along the route.
Via Po is one of the most important and stately thoroughfares in the center of Turin, running in a wide, straight line from Piazza Castello to Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Its soaring pedestrian porticoes along both sides adorn some of the city’s most elegant boutiques, prestigious book shops, and historic cafés.
The Aquarium of Genoa is not only the largest aquarium in Italy, but also the most extensive exhibition of marine biodiversity in Europe. Situated in Genoa’s Old Port, more than 70 different tanks hold 1.6 million gallons of water and 12,000 animals. Visitors can see sharks, dolphins, manatees, penguins, seals, jellyfish, and much more.
Perched on a rocky promontory, riddled with caves, and lapped by startlingly blue waters, Cinque Terre’s village of Manarola is the epitome of romantic. Its charms include sea-view restaurants serving ultra-fresh anchovies, a picturesque waterfront promenade, and a rugged Italian Riviera shore dotted with swimming holes—all this and small enough to explore in a single morning.
Home to one of Italy’s most popular and decorated soccer teams, Juventus Stadium is a must-visit Turin attraction for sports fans. Opened in 2011 following the demolition of the team’s previous Stadio delle Alpi, Juventus Stadium—also known as Allianz Stadium—also hosts the Juventus Museum and companion shopping center.
A dramatic hilltop perch and imposing watchtowers make this 13th-century fortress one of the most remarkable sights in the UNESCO-listed Le Langhe-Roero countryside. Just outside the town of Alba, the castle is home to the Enoteca Regionale, a shop stocked with local specialties, including the region’s prestigious wines.
A tiny bay on the Ligurian coast near the town of Camogli is called San Fruttuoso, home to a 10th-century abbey and an underwater statue.
San Fruttuoso is only reachable by boat or by hiking in from another town nearby, which is part of its appeal. The main attraction is the abbey that is right on the small beach. It was originally built in the 10th century, though much of what you see today dates from the 16th century. It's a Benedictine abbey that's open to the public at certain times, though the hours and days it's open vary quite a bit depending on the season and weather.
The other attraction of San Fruttuoso is the bronze Christ of the Abyss statue located just offshore. It depicts Christ with his arms open and outstretched, and it was designed in 1954 as a memorial to a diver who had drowned. The statue is more than 55 feet underwater, and is more than eight feet tall. It's only visible if you go diving in the area. A replica is on display in the abbey's church, which you can visit at no charge.
Colloquially known as “La Consla,” the Sanctuary of the Consolata (Santuario della Consolata) is an important site of Catholic worship, an architectural feat, and a key Turin landmark whose history dates back millennia. Rebuilt, remodeled, and expanded throughout the centuries, the Santuario della Consolata is unlike any other local basilica.
La Lanterna, Genoa’s towering stone lighthouse, has been guiding ships into port since medieval times. It stands proudly at 250 feet (76 meters) in height, making it the second-tallest masonry lighthouse in the world. After admiring the stellar views, visit the adjacent Lantern Museum, which covers the history of Genoa and its Old Port.
Set on a hilltop overlooking the Castello district, Genoa’s Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello (Basilica di Santa Maria di Castello) is one of the most important churches in this bustling port city. Part of a larger religious complex including a convent and museum, the Romanesque basilica is home to important works by many of Genoa’s best known artists.
Turin is known as a fast-paced hub of industrial and financial business. Slow down and unwind within this bustling metropolis at QC Termetorino, an indulgent spa where you’ll find thermal and steam baths, relaxation rooms, massages, and other spa treatments.
In a country as storied as Italy, it comes as no surprise that there are important historic sites buried beneath its modern metropolises. Almost every major Italian city has hidden underground attractions; Turin’s is the Pietro Micca Museum (Museo Pietro Micca), with a network of tunnels that ultimately saved the city from the French in 1706.
Genoa’s Palazzo Rosso, or Red Palace, was built in the 1670s as a private home for the wealthy Brignole-Sale family. Donated to the city 200 years later, it was turned into an art museum featuring works by Veronese, Strozzi, and van Dyck. The palace is located in the heart of Genoa’s historical center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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