The name of Turin comes from Tau, a Celtic word that means mountains. Its Italian name, Torino, translates as "little bull"; hence the coat of arms and the symbol of the city. The area was settled by the Taurini in pre-Roman times.
In the 1st century BC (probably 28 BC), the Romans created a military camp (Castra Taurinorum), later dedicated to Augustus (Augusta Taurinorum). The typical Roman street grid can still be seen in the modern city. Turin reached about 5,000 inhabitants at the time, all living inside the high walls.
After the fall of the Roman empire the city was conquered by the Lombards, then the Franks; in 942 the Contea di Turino ("County of Turin"), was founded, since 1050 held by the family of the (then) Counts of Savoy. While the dignity of count was held by the Bishop as conte di Turino, 1092-1130 and 1136 - 1191, it was ruled as a prince-bishopric by the Bishops. It was a lordship 1230 - 1235 under the Marchese di Monferrato, styled Signore di Torino ('Lord')
At the end of the 13th century, when it was annexed to the Duchy of Savoy, the city already had 20,000 inhabitants. Many of the gardens and palaces were built in the 15th century when the city was redesigned. The University was also founded during this period.
Emanuele Filiberto (Iron Head) made Turin the capital of the Duchy of Savoy in 1563. Piazza San Carlo, via Po and the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale) were built in this period.
In 1706 the French besieged the city for 117 days without conquering it (Battle of Turin). After the subsequent Treaty of Utrecht, the Kingdom of Sardinia was annexed to the Duchy of Savoy and the architect Filippo Juvarra began a major redesign of the city. Now the capital of a European kingdom, Turin had about 90,000 inhabitants at the time.
In the 19th century, after brief occupation by Napoleon, the city began to actively pursue the unification of Italy. In 1871, the Fréjus Tunnel was opened, making Turin an important communication node. The city now had 250,000 inhabitants. The Museo Egizio, the Mole Antonelliana, the Gran Madre church and Vittorio Veneto square were built in this period.
In 1861, Turin became the capital of the newly proclaimed United Italy. In 1865 the capital was moved to Florence. (Since 1870 the capital has been Rome.) Turin reacted to the loss of importance by beginning a rapid industrialisation: in 1899 FIAT was founded and Lancia in 1906. The Universal Exposition held in Turin in 1902 is often considered the pinnacle of Art Nouveau design, and the city hosted the Exposition again in 1911. By this time, Turin had grown to 430,000 inhabitants.
After World War I conflicts between workers and industrialists began. The first strikes took place and in 1920 the Lingotto factory was occupied.
After World War II Turin was rapidly rebuilt and its industries greatly developed, which caused waves of immigration, largely from the southern regions of Italy. The population reached 1 million in 1960 and peaked at 1.5 million in 1975. In the 1980s the first industrial crisis hit the city and its population began to decline (and continues to, while the metropolitan area grows). The 2005 population is 908,000.
Turin also has one of the worlds largest football clubs that is supported by a large number of Italians. Juventus F.C have always had a fierce rivalry with the Milan football club who is another massively supported team in the Serie A. Alessandro Del Piero is one of the most beloved players for Juventus and was born and bred in the town of Turin
Law and government
The mayor of Turin is directly elected every 5 years. Sergio Chiamparino, the current mayor, belongs to the center-left coalition.
View over Turin.
View by night.
Turin is located in northwest Italy. It is surrounded on the western and northern front by the Alps and on the southern front by the hills of Monferrato. Four major rivers pass through the city: the Po and two of its tributaries, the Dora Riparia (from the Celtic duria meaning "water," later changed to "Duria Minor" by the Romans), the Stura di Lanzo, and the Sangone.
Turin grew by 0.88% during the last 3 years, which was attributed to a somewhat low birth rate, contributing to an aging population. Around 16.4% of the population are under 14 years over age, while those in retirement age number 18.8%. The city has seen a rise in immigrants, including the suburban areas. The population remains overwhelmingly Italian (96.1%), but there are groups like Romanian: 2.3%, Moroccans: 1.5%, Peruvians: 0.5%, Albanian: 0.4%, and others.
Today the city is a major industrial center, known particularly as home to the headquarters and main production lines of the car company Fiat. The city is home to the famous Lingotto building, which was at one time the largest car factory in the world, and is now a convention centre, concert hall, art gallery, shopping centre and hotel. Other companies founded in Turin are Invicta, founded 1821, Lavazza, Martini, Kappa and the chocolate factory Caffarel.
It is also a center for aerospace industry, with Alenia. Some major elements of the International Space Station, such as the Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules, were produced in Turin. The future European launcher projects beyond Ariane 5 will also be managed from Turin, by the new NGL company, a subsidiary of EADS (70%) and Finmeccanica (30%).
Turin is also the birthplace of major aspects of the Italian economy, such as telecommunications Telecom Italia, television (Rai, National TV channel) and cinema. Most of these industries have moved to other parts of Italy, but Turin still hosts the National Museum of Cinema.
The town currently has a large number of rail and road work sites. Although this activity has increased as a result of the 2006 Winter Olympics, parts of it had long been planned. Some of the work sites deal with general roadworks to improve traffic flow, such as underpasses and flyovers, but two projects are of major importance and will change the shape of the town radically.
One is the 'Spina' ('spine') which includes the doubling of a major railroad crossing the town. The railroad previously ran in a trench, which will now be covered by a major boulevard. The town rail station on this line will become the main station of Turin ('Porta Susa').
The other major project is the construction of a subway line based on the VAL system, known as Metrotorino. This project is expected to continue for years and to cover a larger part of the town, but its first phase was finished in time for the Olympic Games (inaugurated on 4 February 2006 and opened to the public the day after). This first leg of the subway system links the nearby town of Collegno with the Porta Susa station in Turin's town centre; the next leg extending the service to the 'Porta Nuova' railway station is expected by June 2007. This underground transportation project has historical importance for Turin, as the town has dreamed of an underground line for decades, the first project dating as far back as the twenties. In fact, the main street in the town centre ('Via Roma') runs atop a tunnel built during the fascist era (when 'Via Roma' was built). The tunnel was supposed to host the underground line but is now used as an underground car park. A project to build an underground system was ready in the seventies, with government funding for it and for similar projects in Milan and Rome; whilst the other two cities went ahead with the projects, Turin local government led by mayor Diego Novelli shelved the proposal as it believed it to be too costly and unnecessary, but that only meant more funding for Rome and Milan.
Sites of interest
The Mole Antonelliana.
The Mole Antonelliana.
The Basilica di Superga near Turin.
The Basilica di Superga near Turin.
The church Monte dei Cappuccini.
The façade of Palazzo Carignano.
The Gran Madre Church from the Mole Antonelliana.
Sunset on the Po River in Turin
One of its main symbols is the Mole Antonelliana, which hosts the National Cinema Museum of Italy. The Cathedral of St John the Baptist houses the Shroud of Turin, an old linen cloth with an imprint of a man, which is believed by many to be the cloth that covered Jesus in his grave. The Museo Egizio has the most important collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world after the Cairo Museum.
Turin offers a circuit of great historical and architectural interest: the Savoy Residences. In addition to the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Savoys until 1865, the circuit includes palaces, residences and castles in the city centre and in the surrounding towns. Turin is home to Palazzo Chiablese, the Royal Armoury, the Royal Library, Palazzo Madama, Palazzo Carignano, Villa della Regina, and the Valentino Castle. In the area around the city, the castles of Rivoli, Moncalieri, Venaria, Agliè, Racconigi, and Govone can be visited. The Hunting Lodge by Juvarra can be admired in Stupinigi and there is also the royal estate in Pollenzo. Some of these (first and foremost Rivoli, the location of the Museum of the same name) host events, exhibitions and cultural initiatives not only of local interest. In 1997, this complex of historical buildings was recognised as a World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
In the hills above the city is the basilica church of Superga, from where there is a splendid panorama of Turin against a backdrop of the snow-capped Alps. The basilica holds the tombs of many of the dukes of Savoy, as well as many of the kings of Sardania. Superga can be reached by means of the Superga Rack Railway from the suburb of Sassi.
The city is also famous for being the film set of the 1969 classic film The Italian Job starring Michael Caine - it is possible to visit all the locations on a special tour - and Deep Red (1975), directed by Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento.
University of Turin (Università degli Studi di Torino) / http://www.unito.it/
Politecnico di Torino (Turin) / http://www.polito.it/
Istituto Europeo di Design (Turin) / http://www.ied.it/
Turin World Book Capital
After Alexandria, Madrid, New Delhi, Antwerp and Montreal, Turin has been chosen by UNESCO as World Book Capital for the year 2006 because of its activity of book and reading promotion, especially with the International Book Fair, one of the most important fairs in Europe of its kind.
From April 2006 to April 2007 Turin will host a festival called "Signs of Writing" composed of events, meetings, seminars, debates, letters, and performances.
The city is famous for two very successful football teams, Torino F.C. and Juventus F.C., and was the host of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Turin has also hosted two summer Universiade: the first in 1959 and the second in 1970. In 2006 it will also host the chess olympics and the fencing World Championships. In 2007, Turin will host its first Winter Universiade and, in 2009, the Indoor Athletics European Championships. In a terrible air accident in 1949, a plane carrying the whole Torino F.C. team (at that time the most important in Europe and aka Grande Torino) hit the church of Superga, on the Turin hills. Among those who died was Valentino Mazzola (one of the best Italian players ever), father of Ferruccio and Sandro Mazzola (who were also later to be football champions).
Turin was also the city where the FISA (international rowing federation) was born in 1892.
Turin is the birth place of solid chocolate. It was in Turin that Doret invented at the end of the 18th century a revolutionary machine that could make solid chocolate as we eat it now. Turin produces a typical chocolate, named Gianduiotto after Gianduja, a local Commedia dell'arte mask, and many other kinds of chocolate in a host of confectioneries all around the city. Every year the town organizes cioccolaTO', a two week chocolate festival with the main piedmontese chocolate factories and producers and some international ones like Lindt & Sprüngli.
Turin is surrounded by several smaller cities in the Province of Turin such as Grugliasco, Rivoli, Chivasso, Venaria, Settimo Torinese, Orbassano, Moncalieri, Avigliana, Buttigliera Alta, Gassino Torinese, Nichelino, Collegno and others, that make up one of Italy's primary metropolitan areas.