It’s been a joy to come to Turin again and have such glorious weather. The sun has been shining in a clear blue sky; temperatures during the day hit the low to mid-20s (though it gets chilly at night) and it’s just the perfect weather for making the most of a long weekend in this beautiful city.
I read about Parco del Valentino, Turin’s oldest park, and saw that it was close to my hotel – just 0.7km away. It runs along the edge of the Po River to the south and seemed like an ideal place to go for an early morning Sunday walk.
There are botanical gardens in the park, but unfortunately they don’t open until April. However it turned out there was still plenty to see and enjoy.
It was some time between 8.30 and 9.00am that I set off from my hotel in via Carlo Alberto and walked southwards. It was very quiet and peaceful and gave me time to enjoy the beauty of the city with hardly anyone else around. I cut along via Mazzini, passing through Piazza Bodoni where stallholders were setting up a food market. I followed the road right down to Lungo Po and the river.
Turning right, I walked close to the river. A little way ahead the Umberto I bridge crossed the Po. It was built in 1903-7, replacing the old bridge dating from 1840, which was closed for safety reasons in 1897.
Pollarded trees lined the wide avenue to my right. The avenues are known as ‘Napoleon’s Avenues’. In 1801,he ordered the demolition of the old city walls and the construction of tree-lined avenues in their place, making it easier for the transport of goods, troops and travellers who no longer had to enter the city to cross it.
At the entrance to the park is Arco Monumentale all’Artigliere (Monumental Arch to the Artilleryman), which was built in 1930.
The gardens were designed in the 19th century by landscape architect Barrilet-Deschamps.
Despite the early hour it was busy – but mainly runners, dog walkers … and one lone travel blogger!
The light was still quite hazy; the morning wasn’t fully awake. But it was really lovely. I kept close to the river. There were a number of cafes, some starting to open, so there would always be refreshments close at hand.
I came to a huge building with stables at the side. I discovered later this was Castello del Valentino, which looks beautiful at the front in photos but I only got to see the back, which was still impressive.
I’d seen on the map that there was a ‘medieval museum’ and that it was open so contemplated it might be nice to go inside. Then I saw a castle rising before me and a sign telling me I’d arrived. It turned out that Il Borgo Medievale was actually a village – or created as a medieval village in 1884 for the Italian General Exposition of Turin for people to experience a sense of what a medieval village was like.
I went through the arch in the tower to look inside. Entry is free but tours of the inside of the castle cost €5.
It was fascinating and beautifully done. There was a few little shops and a cafe.
Back outside the light was getting clearer offering a great view back along the Po towards the centre. I started walking back.
From this point you get a good view across the Po to the Monte dei Cappuccini, a church on a hill which offers glorious views across Turin.
When I reached via Mazzini, I walked away from the river back into the centre. By now the market in Piazza Bodoni was in full swing and busy with shoppers.
It was quite a large market with some great looking produce.
It’s a rare thing (as my family will attest) for Travel Gourmet to walk 5km before morning coffee! I headed to Baratti e Milano in Piazza Castello for an excellent cappuccino and delicious croissant.
What a lovely morning. And still quite early with most of the day ahead of me to explore more of Turin and the sun now beating down strongly as if it were summertime already.
This article is now published on the GPSmyCity app. Why not take it with you on your mobile? Click here for link.