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Digital Subscriptions > National Geographic Traveller (UK) > December 2018 > TURIN


The birthplace of Italian icons Lavazza and Fiat, Turin has always been an innovator. And with its old factories turned into living art parks and shopping centres, this northern powerhouse is still living up to its trailblazing reputation.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Slawek Kozdras

Turin isn’t what it used to be. Just 20 years ago it was a city of automobiles — its grand baroque architecture caked in exhaust fumes, some of its fanciest squares repurposed as car parks. It was also a city in decline — the Fiat factory, which had driven the city’s growth, closed in 1982.

But, sparked by a cleanup for the 2006 Winter Olympics, Turin started to turn things around — today, it’s one of Italy’s most exciting metropolises. This is a place where tradition meets modernity — where the palatial construction boom kicked off in the 16th century by the House of Savoy entwines with starchitect conversions of industrial buildings, turning the skeletons of the past into the heart of the future.

Despite its inaccessible location — at the foot of the Alps, Mont Blanc looming in the distance — Turin has always been groundbreaking. Fiat was by no means the only car manufacturer to spring from here, and further back, it was here that chocolate was patented in the mid- 1600s and vermouth poured for the first time in the 18th century. Lavazza coffee was born in Turin, and Alfonso Bialetti, who popularised the Moka coffeemaker you see on every Italian hob, was from the Piedmont countryside.

Today, the Torinesi still gravitate to centuries-old coffeehouses to sip the city’s signature drink: bicerin, a blend of coffee, chocolate and cream. This is where the Slow Food movement arose; every restaurant trumpets its locally sourced ingredients and focuses on products that take love and graft to make — like Plaisentif cheese, produced for just a couple of months a year and scented with the violets the cows gorge on.

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About National Geographic Traveller (UK)

This month, we ditch the jeep to discover Africa from a different perspective. Whether on foot, by boat or hot air balloon, we’re showcasing the continent’s wild side on an active safari across Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and more. We go north of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland; discover Japan’s Tohoku region; and spend a long weekend in Vilnius. Other highlights this issue include Lima, Fife, Budapest, San Francisco and Turin, while our photo story unearths the tradition of gold panning in Costa Rica.