Turino turned out to be a nicer city than we expected. It was very clean with very wide streets and many large plazas with very large palaces. This is the city that hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006. You can see the mountains which still had plenty of snow. In the 16th century it was the capital of the Kingdom of Savoy and later in the mid 19th century it was the first capital of the almost united Italy. As more territory came under control of the new government the capital was moved to Florence and then eventually Rome.
There are three major financial centers in Italy - Rome, Milan and Turin. This is where Fiat started and our Israeli friends apartment was right across from the Fiat factory.
There are some incredible museums in Turin. The Egyptian Museum is considered to have the best collection of Egyptian artifacts after the one in Cairo. It is the most visited museum in Turin and we spent almost 4 hours there. Fortunately we went on a cold rainy weekday and there was no line to get in. Later in the week when the weather got better and on a weekend day the line was long to get in.
...and what would a museum be without some 3000 year old erotica.
The second most visited site in Turin is the stadium of the Juventus soccer team. The are one of the most successful soccer teams in the world but the stadium was not on our list of things to do.
The third most visited site in Turin is the Mole Anonelliana which is the site of the cinema museum. Prior to the famous Cinecitta being built in Rome, Turin was the capital of movie making in Italy. The museum has an amazing collection of early devices for moving pictures and had viewing areas where you could watch different movies from the start until the present.
A view of the Mole from inside one of the palaces where you can get some idea of its size.
It is a structure that is visible from all over Turin as it is the highest structure and you can take an elevator up to the top. The Mole is on the two cent Euro coin of Italy. It was designed and started to be built in 1850 as a synagogue. The Jewish community, recently freed from the ghetto, ran out of money and donated the almost completed building to the city in exchange for some other property to build a smaller synagogue. This is a view from the top of the Mole with the snow capped mountains in the distance.
The earliest know record of Jews being in Turin was in the 4th century but the real start is considered to be 1424 when a French Jewish banker moved there. The history of the Jews in Turin is similar to other places in Italy. The Kingdom of Savoy had a policy that changed based upon who was the King. In 1430 Jews were made to wear a red and white round badge BUT the Christians could not hit them or insult them!! Jews were restricted on where they could live but not put into a real ghetto until 1679. They were generally limited to money lending and selling of rags. At one time there were nine Jewish banks in Turin. By WWII there were about 4000 Jews living in Turin. Today there are about 1000 out of a population of over one million.
We did manage to find the one kosher store in the city - a bakery. We bought some not so good pastries.
There were several places in the city where we found Stopelsteins, the brass plaques that are located where Jews lived before being deported to a concentration camp.
The main synagogue today was opened in 1884 and is located close to the main train station. It was partially destroyed in WWII but was renovated in 1949. As usual in Europe it is guarded 24 hours per day by Italian soldiers. No church or mosque is guarded.
What would an Italian city be without a discussion of the food... lots of chocolate like this chocolate hamburger..
or this store window.. all chocolate here.
..and this ham egg log.
Torino boasts that they have the largest market in Europe. We spent some time there and the market contains food, clothing, housewares and almost everything else you would need. There are four buildings as well as hundreds of outdoor booths. Each building seems to specialize in something - one is only fish. It appears to be crowded all the time.
Prices are cheap. Tomatoes were 1 euro for a kilogram. This compares to alomost 4 euros in our local market.
It has been in the same location for 100 years.
If you want you can have 'Polpette de Cavallo" that is... horse meat balls or horse hamburger.
or any other kind of meat.
or whatever these are.
NOTE: This is from Jean, a high school friend of the Queen....The egg in the squarcelle reminded me of Easter treats so I googled it. Scarcelle are traditional sweets prepared during Holy Week to celebrate Easter and new life. Most are round but some are shaped like Easter baskets with the egg appearing to be inside. Some villages bake decorated or colored hard-boiled Easter eggs while more modern versions of scarcelle have chocolate shaped eggs instead of real eggs.