My hometown, Torino, in North West Italy, is a very special place.
Torino is nowadays the third, or fourth, largest city in the Country (depending if you consider the hinterland or not) and underwent a dramatic and successful change in the past 20 years, by turning its local economomy from industry based to tourism based, after the XXth Winter Olympics, held in the city in 2006. The local administrations and the inhabitants woke up after a century of sleepiness during which the car industry played the lion’s part in supporting the local economy (FIAT is here, in fact, – nowadays called Fiat – Chrisler Automobile). The residents remembered the city was the first Capital of the Country in 1861 and it was home to the Royal Family (the Savoy Dinasty) who left us an immense heritage of residences and funded the incredible transformation of a small town into a huge and elegant baroque capital, for centuries.
Palaces were restored and re opened to the public as well as museums and parks and the whole city changed its face, turning itself into a all year round tourist destination of high level: huge cultural supply, an incredibly rich food and wine tradition and a recognised chocolate making mastery that makes it the new italian capital of high profile tourism.
There is just one thing that didn’t change: its marvellous location at the feet of the Alps and the immense number of trees that populate every corner of the city. Torino was in fact named “the European Capital of Trees”. No other city in Europe counts the same number of trees per inhabitants: 7 trees per each resident which turns out to be a total of 7 million trees in the city centre.
This is the reason why Autumn in Torino is a magic moment. The leaves change their colors into an impressive palette that is impossible to ignore even for the least sensitive guy on earth, and the sunsent turns the facades of the buildings into a golden shade that is unrivalled by any other city of Italy, and probably of Europe.
I took a stroll to the city centre yesterday afternoon. It was a pretty nice autumn day, cool but sunny, thus I thought it might be a good day to enjoy some fresh air and to take some good pictures of this extraordinary urban foliage.
I took this first Picture at Giardini La Marmora, a small garden along one of the main streets of the city, between Piazza Castello and the Train Station of Porta Susa. There are trees and fountains here, as well as some contemporary art installations that make it perfect for an afternoon break. The garden is surrounded by beautiful Eclectic Style palaces (a mix of various styles: Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissant and Baroque features, mixed together into the new architectural trend which covered the last decades of the 1800s).
I moved on to one of the longest boulevards in town called Corso Galileo Ferraris.
It’s a pretty long boulevards of more that 6 km running from the city centre to the southern area, were the Olympic Stadium is found. Trees are located on both sides of the boulevard for its entire lenght. What I captured here is the very first section of it, heading to “the Monument”, which is a gigantic statue of the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy, located in the middle of a roundabout few meters ahead.
I crossed Via Cernaia and ended up into a garden just in front of the old Citadel. Between 1564 and 1567 a huge pentagonal fortress was built to protect the city in the event of a attacks. A siege happened in 1706 and it lasted 4 months from May to September 7th, when the army of the French King was finally defeated by the army of Savoy (with the help of the King od Austria) and retreated. This huge fortified tower is what remains of that massive fortress which was demolished after the unification of the Country to allow a further expansion of the city .
I moved further ahead to Piazza Solferino, named after a village which hosted a huge battle between the armies of Savoy and of Austria, during the second war of independence in 1858. The place is enriched with a strange fountain, celebrating the 4 seasons, put in place at the beginning of the 1900s. Named after the mother of the donor, it’s called Fontana Angelica and it is believed to hide some messages by the Free Masons.
I walked back along Corso Galileo Ferraris until it changes its name into Via della Consolata, heading the most beloved Sanctuary in town: the Consolata. The building is a mix of 3 main components which cover almost a millennium: the belltower is Romanesque, built for a church wich was standing here in the Middle Ages, an exagonal Sanctuary home to a blessed Icon of the Virgin Mary, built in the late 1600s and a huge oval hall built to congregate the believers, built in the 1720s.
On my way home I stopped at one of the most beautiful square in town: Piazza Statuto. It is a big oval piazza named after the first Constitution (Statuto) of the Kindgom of Savoy, published in 1848. It is surrounded by neoclassic buildings painted in red, meant to home the Embassies of every State having diplomatic relationship with the kingdom of Italy. However these building have never ben used as embassies because upon their completion, the Capital moved to Rome.
In the middle of the Piazza there is a small garden, home to a monument which celebrates the workers who died during the excavation of the first tunnel under the Alps, the Frejus Tunnel, which connects Italy to France and vive versa. The monument, completed in 1879, is shaped as a pyramid, built using the rocks excavated from the Alps. The white giants (depicting the force of the Alps) who try to climb it, fall down as if they were pushed back by the black angel which stands on the tip of the Pyramid. Some people believe such dark angel represents the evil (you may read many legends about it) but it is not true. It simply represents the human genius who defies the force of the Alps.
Finally, I looked down to the pavement and a thick layer of golden and brown leaves pointed my way home.
Is your hometown good for autum foliage too?