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Turin, Monday-Thursday: construction workers, office workers and designers, cars and tree-lined avenues. Turin ground-breaking but crreature of habit: the Royal Theatre and the Royal Gardens, the cultural events in bars and book shops, the best hotels and restaurants end up in the agenda of anyone who is in town for business.
Fine settimana they call the weekend, in Turin. Friday and Saturday: museums and shopping, aperitifs and cinema, concerts and night clubs open until late. A different mood, but the same commitment. Turin, Sunday...
On Sunday morning the city is quiet, the streets are empty. In the pedestrian area of the centre, between via Roma and via Lagrange, piazza San Carlo and via Carlo Alberto (two Carlo, two noblemen) there are young cyclists, families and children. There is a short queue in front of the Egyptian Museum which re-opened last year after the restoring work by the Isolarchitetti studio: a budget of €50 million but not even one closing day.
Turin invests on culture. The people walking around are carrying newspapers and Sunday inserts, the table in the bars are full of cappuccinos and croissants (not sweet rolls, not pastries, but croissants). Some bicerin coffee is served to the many foreign tourists. In the old town, next to the underground parking in piazzale Fusi (you can leave your car here, if you have one) there is a nice corner which Turin inhabitants love very much.
We are talking about two beautiful gardens called Balbo and Cavour, two green squares in the heart of the city. Cavour is the most suggestive, delimited by some hills covered in high trees. It's a small reproduction of a Parisian garden, French like the inflection of the local dialect, ideal to relax on a Sunday morning, enjoying the sun and some fresh air while reading a book or the newspapers (there are also the tables of a bar).
Not far from the Egyptian Museum, in the bourgeois heart of Turin, it is possible to ring the bell of the Circolo dei Lettori (the Readers Society) to have a brunch or...to read a book. Palazzo Graneri della Roccia: the entrance of this building is majestic and easy to find. Even Maria Clotilde di Savoia and Gerolamo Bonaparte found it and they got engaged there: it's a romantic place.
Just ring the bell, get in the courtyard and turn left. Another door: ring the bell again, climb the stairs of honour and stop at the first floor. Piedmontese Baroque requires some patience. Now, in front of you there is a wonderful glass gallery: it’s the entrance of a labyrinth made of seven halls with frescoes on the walls and ceilings, framed mirrors and comfortable armchairs. /p>
Don't hesitate: the place is hidden, the furniture is noble, the welcoming is not really warm but the Circolo is public and, today, it has a pop soul. The entry is free and the agenda is filled with cultural events. There are also some small tables to sit down and have a Sunday brunch, a cup of coffee or an aperitif. Don't leave before you see the exotic Chinese sitting room: Turin's nobility truly loved Far Eastern lacquers.
Once you have left the Circolo dei Lettori, you have three options. The first one is to take a walk in the centre, in via Roma, via Garibaldi and via Po, where by now under the colonnades it's full of Turin people looking for their favourite shops. The brands are all there: from Cos to Hermès, from Zara to Max Mara. The most popular have groups of men and strollers obstructing the way in front of the entrance.
Another option is the Mole Antonelliana, the (stocky) monument which is the symbol of the city and very appreciated by its inhabitants. The building, conceived to be a Sinagogue, today hosts the National Cinema Museum: surprising, for adults and children, like the statue of the god Moloch used in 1914 in the movie Cabiria, the Italian silent colossal. Today the movie is a prize of the TFF, the Turin Film Festival. And there is also a panoramic lift!
The third option is Camera, the Italian Centre for Photography which is in via delle Rosine, behind the Cavour garden. It's not thorough like the national museum but it's lively like an art gallery. NastyNasty, Sulla scena del crimine, Oh Man: here are some of the titles of the exhibition that took place in the 2,000 square meters of the centre. From the bookshop you have also access to the official Leica shop. Not bad, is it?
After a break inside shops or museums, now it's time to go back to the open air. Wherever you are, just go towards the East to reach piazza Vittorio Veneto. Then cross the bridge on the Po river, that originates not far from the city, and climb in the direction of the Monte dei Cappuccini. When you are in front of the small convent, do not knock on the door. Just turn around and run to the balustrade: the view on the city is just amazing.
Right under you there is the Lungo Po, green and full of trees, which ends in the Parco del Valentino, that begins in the centre of the city and terminates beyond its borders. Then there are the 19th-century facades and the regular geometry, almost perfect, of the city centre of this former Italian capital with French features. The streets form only right angles: it's a wonderful panorama which many people prefer to the small convent.
On the background, between the old town and the mountains, there is a white tower. It's the skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano for the Intesa San Paolo bank. It's appearance is not surprising, because the innovation is inside it, in its heart. A structurally suspended auditorium which is able to turn into an exhibition hall just pushing a button. And, at the highest floors, there is an oasis of trees, plants and flowers, a greenhouse that evokes the same green that is everywhere in Turin on Sundays.
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