Let us admit the (big) limits of mass tourism that needs us to be in the same places, at the same time and - if possible - all together passionately. Mainstream tourism is 'unstable', good for social media... therefore you can't do without it. But is this really the case?
Let us take Turin, for example. For years, it has been the destination par excellence for professional Egyptologists, enthusiasts or just curious people. The splendid Egyptian Museum, second in the world for importance, never ceases to enchant and is just a stone's throw away from other wonders: the Cinema Museum, Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Madama, just to name a few. However, this article is dedicated to those who want to go beyond the usual choices and visit unusual sides of the capital of Savoy.
Let us start with a small excursus that winds between Piazza Savoia and Piazza Santa Giulia, leading us to the discovery of two prominent figures of the nineteenth century Piedmont: Tancredi Falletti and Giulia Colbert di Barolo.
Their living room at Palazzo Barolo becomes a meeting point for the high nobility, and it is from the palace that the journey of discovery begins, touching on various dedicated poles. We start from Via Corte d'Appello 20/C where we find the MUSLI, Museum of School and Children's Book. Inside the charming Palazzo Barolo, you can take a guided tour to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the nineteenth century, as if to hear the voices of children who have studied at those school desks. The Museum is divided into two itineraries, on the one hand original materials and furnishings, through which adults and children can touch with their own hands a school experience so distant and different from their own, and on the other hand the beautiful rooms dedicated to children's books: from the press to the exhibition of rare books.
Continuing on foot, towards Via Cigna, 16, we find ourselves in front of a large building that houses, instead, the Opera Barolo and the Daughters of Jesus the Good Shepherd. In an evocative internal room it is possible to visit - by appointment - the Giulia of Barolo Museum, dedicated to the Marquise, with clothes and objects that belonged to her, reproductions of sketches and correspondence. Unfortunately, the papers were reduced because she wanted them to be destroyed on her death. The visit is usually guided by Sister Ave Tago, author - also - of a wonderful biography dedicated to the Marquise: Giulia Colbert di Barolo - Madre dei Poveri, a biography documented in detail and rich in important anecdotes to fully understand a woman often relegated to the shadow of prominent political figures of the period. By car or public transport, we find ourselves in front of the unique Piazza Santa Giulia, on which stands the Church dedicated to the Saint, expressly desired by the Marquise. Designed by the architect Giovan Battista Ferrante, in Gothic style, it is located in the centre of the Vanchiglia district. The church is dominated by the commemorative statues dedicated to the marquises, in a magnificent play of light and shade; the inscriptions on the pedestals are particularly evocative. For Tancredi: “He was a true friend of the poor, whom he recommended to his pious consort, instituting her heir” and for Giulia: “The hard-working charity of his consort emulated, perpetuating illustrious benefits”.
Leaving Giulia and Tancredi, but remaining in the Vanchiglia area, we can proceed towards Via Napione where we find two noteworthy Museum Houses (with a prayer to the reader not to go there directly, but to check and book the visits in advance on their respective sites). We are talking about Casa Mollino and Casa Studio di Carol Rama. A few meters from each other, are places steeped in history, where the steps of the famous inhabitants can still be heard. In Via Napione, 2 you are welcomed by Fulvio or Napoleone Ferrari, as guides to discover the world of Carlo Mollino. A key figure in the history of Turin and world architecture. Although he never lived in the apartment we visit today, he set it up and used it occasionally as a photographic studio, like a modern Des Esseintes.
Carol's equally fascinating studio at number 15 is a different story. Carol lived there from the 1940s until his death in 2015. The apparent disorder hides - instead - a maniacal dedication to the objects collected within the walls. Memories of his father, work tools and newspaper clippings are combined with gifts from Man Ray and Luciano Anselmino. Not to be missed!
If the visits have left us with a mouth-watering mouth, we can head towards the GAM (Galleria d'Arte Moderna - Via Magenta, 31) to admire some works by Rama or towards the Teatro Regio, designed by Mollino. The Teatro Regio offers an interesting guided tour behind the scenes, to admire it in all its splendor, away from the hours of the show.
We mentioned Palazzo Madama and Palazzo Reale, but even in this case, why not treat yourself to a little detour and spend some time in the Sale Chiablese in Piazzatta Reale, 1?
The immodest opinion of the writer would tell you that the temporary exhibitions held there have no equal in Piedmont. Think of the recently hosted Gualino Collection (a character already mentioned in a recent interview with Giorgio Caponetti or the current superb monograph dedicated to the Estonian painter Konrad Magi!
As soon as we leave the Sale Chiablese, we turn left to admire the Duomo, of course, but then we head to the Regia Farmacia, which awaits us in Via XX Settembre, 87. A piece of Turin's history that, for some months now, also provides customers with a cozy herbal tea room.
Remaining in the Piazza Castello area, we can take the shuttle bus to the Castello di Rivoli. Piedmontese and international excellence for contemporary art, has recently added a significant piece to its - already greedy - offer: the Collection Cerruti. Words are missing to describe the richness and beauty of what awaits the visitor. A private collection of excellence, with works by: Fountain, Pontormo, Renoir, Modigliani, Kandinskij, Klee, Boccioni, Balla and Magritte, to get to Bacon, Burri, Warhol, De Dominicis and Paolini.
On the way back, if we are tired, why not taking a refreshing dip in the area? We have in mind one of the most interesting places recently opened: Kintsugi Tea and Cakes in Via Monte di Pietà, 17/C. One of the Italian corners closest to the Japanese tradition that has ever happened to you (guaranteed!) Formidable hot and cold drinks, will transport you directly to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Before leaving, however, you should continue your exploration to the Regio Park district (reachable from the center by various public transport). Practically devoid of attractions if it were not for the majestic Monumental Cemetery. Built in 1827 also thanks to the financing by Tancredi di Barolo (and here our circle closes!), it can be visited alone (in this case make sure you have at hand the volume: Torino silenziosa by Manuela Vetrano) or in the company of Vetrano herself. For years, in fact, it has given life to a unique project of its kind: La Civetta di Torino. Her site and social media pages are essential for those who want to deepen aspects of the city little known. Manuela has to her credit several tours, but her battle horses remain the walks to the Monumentale. The surprises and stories that she will tell you are hidden in every corner of the cemetery in Turin and some of the greatest sculptors of the nineteenth century have left their traces there.
The tour is a truly unique experience to complete an excursion with many unexpected discoveries.