This is Piazza Castello – the true heart of the city. All roads lead off this central stage to gorgeous shops, bars, restaurants, piazzas, museums, monuments, parks and the hills.
When I first arrived in Turin in 1997 this piazza was basically a traffic roundabout where cars, buses and trams circled manically around the central feature of the square – Palazzo Madama. Fortunately, that roundabout is history and since 2000 the main part of the square has been repaved. A minimalist arrangement of fountains in front of Palazzo Madama serves as a backdrop for many a wedding photo and provide fun and games and great delight to kids who love running and splashing through the jets of water. New, trendy cafes compete with historical ones – Baratti & Milano, under the porticos on the south side of the square, battles it out for custom with the new, on trend version of Fiorio on the corner of Via Garibaldi.
Where once there was a serious risk of getting knocked down by a rattling, yellow tram now you can stroll around and take in the atmosphere, sit down on one of the benches dotted around the piazza, watch the beautiful people and admire the surrounding architecture.
Here you are surrounded by vast baroque buildings that gleam with cleanliness and pride. Nearly the whole city was cleaned up to within an inch of its life in the lead up the the Winter Olympic Games in 2006. Take in the beauty of Palazzo Madama (home to the Museo Civico di Arte Antica) in the centre, Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace), San Lorenzo church and the Cappella della Santa Sindone to the north.
Don’t forget to come here in the evenings too. Winter and summer this piazza is full of life. Watch street entertainers or meet up with friends for a stroll and catch-up before going on to one of the great pizzerias nearby. Afterwards return for a post-pizza stroll and an ice-cream from Fiorio – bliss! Yes, even in the depths of winter!