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Why Torino

Unesco, the cultural branch of the United Nations, says that two thirds of the world's historical artistic heritage is in Italy. We have some natural beauties like the Alps, the Mediterranean sea, the lakes, the islands and the Tuscan hills (just to name a few) that would make our country very attractive even without history or art. Many foreigners get to see Italy in a very superficial way, along the diagonal line that goes from Rome to Venice with Florence in between. Those three cities are very important and should not be missed, but there are countless other beautiful places to see in this country, and travelling out of the path beaten by tourism can be a treat. Turin is one of these places.

Mark your calendars! Turin, Italy - May 19-20, 2007

About Torino

Turin was founded a few centuries before Christ and destroyed by Hannibal during his famous descent into Italy with the elephants (3rd century b.C., second Punic war). After that it was settled by the Romans. Some Roman ruins are still visible. From the XI century a.D. on it was dominated by the Dukes of Savoy, who, by the XVI century had extended their territory to most of the Piemonte region, all of Savoy (now part of France) and the lake Geneva area which is now part of the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The capital was moved from Chambery, in Savoy, to Turin. Through alliances, marriages, wars and cunning, the Dukes of Savoy gained enough power and recognition to become Kings after the hundred-year war. The island of Sardinia was annexed to their territory and the Kingdom was called the Kingdom of Sardinia. After that the focus was on conquering the rest of Italy. The kingdom of Sardinia-Savoy became the kingdom of Italy in 1861, with Turin as its first capital.

The capital was moved to Florence in 1866 and, after the annexation of the territories that belonged to the Pope (end of the Catholic Church's temporal power, 1870), to Rome. Turin is also where Italy's "industrial revolution" started, and gave Italy some of its most important industries, including FIAT, which means "Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino" (Italian Automobile Factory, Turin). Accordingly, there are two Turins. One is the historical center: majestic, baroque, royal yet never gaudy. The outer city, instead, is typically industrial.

In Turin we have many green parks, beautiful hills, lots of royal castles, magnificent baroque buildings, large streets lined with trees and - by the way - the second largest Egyptian museum in the world next to Cairo, courtesy of Napoleon Bonaparte who, after his unfortunate Egyptian expedition, dropped his loot in Turin before crossing the Alps. A few years later he was defeated and exiled, and the kings of Savoy came back to town, reclaiming their throne and keeping the bounty.

In Turin we also have the Shroud, believed by many to be the linen sheet that Christ was buried in. To non-believers, a very interesting forgery that no one has yet been able to explain: a perfect photographic negative of a perfectly-drawn human silhouette supposedly forged long before Leonardo Da Vinci, the ony man who could have manufactured something remotely similar in antiquity.