Although the city of Turin has a lot to offer, the entire Piedmont region (and beyond) is full of possibilities for trips to villages, mountains, nature, scenery and Italian vacations at their best. There may be those who would prefer to cross the nearby border and also benefit from France or Switzerland, if they have already reached northern Italy, but we know that the land of the boot has a lot to offer, and if you have already come this far, its neighbors may be better saved for another trip.
Get some worthwhile offers that will keep you in Italy after all, and more importantly – will leave you speechless and satisfied with your choice.
A trip to the Alps
The Alps are present in the life of Turin, just as the Tiber River is present in the life of Rome. They are visible to the residents from many streets in the city, and no landscape picture of Turin is complete without them. In the winter, the people of Turin turn to them to ski, and in the summer they turn to them to rest and get away from the chaos and humidity that prevail in the city. There are many options for traveling in the Alps, whether it is by bike, on foot, on horseback or in any other way.
For family travelers, a recommended town to start with is Pian del Colle, from where paths through the forest start up the ridge. The town is very close to the French border, and the trails will provide you with beautiful views of the snowy range (more or less, depending on the season you come).
The Royal Residence Venaria Reale (Reggia di Venaria Reale)
So it is true that if you have traveled around the city of Turin, you are probably already tired of hearing about the House of Savoy and its royal dormitories. But this is not another one of the urban dorms crammed between neighboring buildings that create a slightly claustrophobic atmosphere. It is a palace that was built inspired by the Palace of Versailles in France, during the 17th century, and was intended to be a hunting lodge for the aristocratic family. It is located about eight kilometers northwest of the city of Turin, so it is a good base for going hunting in the nearby forests and on the slopes of the Alps.
There is a lot to see in this residence, especially after the massive renovation it underwent over eight years, at a total cost of 235 million euros. You can pass between the luxurious living rooms, wash your eyes in the ballrooms and walk on the floor of the portico inlaid with black and white marble stones. On top of that, the extensive gardens outside the palace are carefully maintained, and you can stroll to your heart’s content in the hundreds of acres that in the past probably hosted nobles from all over Europe. If you get tired, there is a small cafe in the grounds of the palace and gardens, where you can sip an espresso and discuss the ha vada.
Route to the former monastery named after Saint Michael (Sacra di San Michele)
Although this is not a trek, and those of you who like trekking for several days will have to find one in the Gran Paradiso National Park, but it is definitely a challenging route that can be done with the family (with big enough children, of course).
The monastery, located on the top of Mount Pirchiriano (Monte Pirchiriano) at an altitude of almost 1,000 meters above sea level, looks like it was taken from a movie about medieval knights. It was built in the tenth century AD, and served for more than 600 years as a monastery of the Benedictine order. The tour of the place (which no longer functions as a monastery) is particularly fascinating, and the views from the top towards the Susa Valley (Val di Susa) will knock you off your feet. This monastery is so important in the history of the county that it is designated by law as “the symbol of Piedmont County.”
The choice whether to reach the monastery by car or not is yours, but it is highly recommended to make the ascent on foot. From the Avigliana train station (about 40 minutes drive from Turin) the ascent takes about two hours, and it will make you feel that you have honestly earned the spectacular view from the top. For those who have difficulty walking, between the months of April and November a shuttle leaves several times a day from the train station to the monastery itself.
On the way down from the mountain, you can pass by the brewery of San Michele (Birrifico San Michele) located at the foot of the mountain, in order to sip a locally produced beer named after a famous Italian opera.
The beaches of the Italian Riviera
For sea lovers, Turin is too close to the coast to pass up. Indeed, the shores of the Ligurian Sea (as this part of the Mediterranean Sea is called), from the border with France to the beginning of the province of Tuscany, are considered the Italian Riviera. There is no better place than them for a day of sunbathing, belly-to-back on the beach and swimming among the sea waves.
Among the towns that are recommended to reach from Turin are Alassio, which is about two and a quarter hours by car (three hours by train) from Turin, and Cervio, which is only a few minutes’ drive from it but you will probably have to get there by car. These two sleepy towns (don’t stick to them) are characterized by beautiful and calm beaches, a holiday atmosphere and a developed beach infrastructure.
Gran Paradiso National Park (Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso)
This is the place for outdoor enthusiasts, trekking, skiing and other extreme activities and sports. This national park, whose name literally translates to “big paradise”, is truly a paradise for field lovers. Marked alpine treks, lakes and glaciers, bike singles, cabins and campsites for overnight stays in the field, and what not.
This national park is about an hour to an hour and a half drive northwest of Turin, close to the border with France, and there is probably no better way to experience the Italian Alps than to get there. The place is suitable for nature lovers of all genders and ages, and you can find activities suitable for every visitor. From a leisurely walk in an alpine meadow to mountain climbing and a steep trek to a height of more than 2,000 meters, the park has something to offer you. It has more than 700 kilometers of marked walking trails, many bike paths and even a botanical garden.