World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Italy > Turin

Local time Turin


Turin History

The city of Turin, capital of Piedmont, is known historically for two things: the car giant Fiat, which was born here in 1899, and the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial cloth of Christ. But its history stretches far beyond these two highlights.

Like many Italian cities, Turin probably takes its name from an ancient Celtic tribe called the Taurini, said to have occupied the heart of Piedmont.

Hannibal destroyed the city in 218 BC, and a couple of centuries later, Turin became home to an important Roman military camp.

In the Middle Ages, after the Roman Empire crumbled, Turin was overrun by Lombards, Franks and Goths until it began to be absorbed into the powerful House of Savoy.

By the 15th century, it became one of the most fundamental cities in the unified dukedom, and finally the capital of the burgeoning state. Lavish palaces were left behind by Savoy rule.

The French continually harried Turin, besieging the capital in the mid-16th century and again in 1706 during the Spanish War of Succession. Napoleon later seized the city during his ‘liberation’ of Italy, after which the House of Savoy was restored in 1814.

Turin became the first capital of unified Italy in 1861 and grew into one of the industrial powerhouses of the new state. Migrants from across the country flocked to work in the factories of Fiat and other producers.

Under Mussolini, who took control of the country in 1922, Fiat was made to produce military technology for the army. This made it a target for Allied bombing in WWII, which heavily damaged the city.

Turin was one of the quickest cities in Italy to recover in the post-war years, driving forward the country’s economic miracle through its automotive industry. Unfortunately, it was hit by severe crisis in 1980s from which it has never quite recovered, having lost a large portion of its population. In 2006 it hosted the Winter Olympics, which provided a much-needed boost.

Did you know?
• The ancient settlement of the Taurini is actually thought to have been made up of two distinct ethnic groups, Celtic and Ligurian.
• Turin’s main icon, Mole Antonelliana, was originally planned as a synagogue, but the Jewish community and the architects are thought to have fallen out over spiralling costs.
• The French never quite gave up hopes of controlling Turin. There is evidence that they planned to annex the area during WWII, which might explain why the French army unexpectedly took the city during the Allied advance through Italy towards the end of the war.

A digital image at

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels


Townhouse 70

In the heart of the historic centre, just behind the Piazza Castello, this boutique hotel occupies a renovated historic building and has 48 comfortable rooms. It also has tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms (a rarity in Italy) alongside free Wi-Fi and upmarket toiletries.

Gianduja B&B

This friendly bed and breakfast has clean bright rooms and is furnished with contemporary fabrics and modern bathrooms - some with spa baths. Book a room with a balcony to enjoy views of Turin's street life and the mountains beyond. There is a bus and tram stop just outside the hotel for onward travel across the city.

Pensione Orizzonte

Situated alongside the antique booksellers and record dealers of Via Po, staying at this classic pensione (guest house) is like stepping back in time. Rooms are simple, but clean, with elegant parquet floors. Wi-Fi and breakfast are included in the hotel's very reasonable room rates.

Victoria Hotel

Nab yourself a top floor room of this elegant, centrally positioned hotel as most come with stylish roof terraces that afford distant views of the Alps. This welcoming 4-star stay comes with the added bonus of a peaceful spa complete with swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi. Breakfast is an exquisite spread and afternoon tea is also worth your time.

NH Torino Lingotto Tech

This 4-star hotel in the enormous former Fiat factory is situated next to the conference centre and 8Gallery, Turin's main shopping mall. All rooms have vast windows and high ceilings and are furnished with sleek modern furniture.

Grand Hotel Sitea

This 4-star hotel in the centre of the city has been around since 1925. It has plush, soundproofed rooms and regularly plays host to visiting film and sporting stars. The Carignano Restaurant serves a Piedmont tasting menu, so guests can familiarise themselves with the local specialities.