Turin (Italian: Torino, pronounced [toˈriːno] ( listen); Piedmontese: Turin, pronounced [tyˈɾiŋ]; Latin: Augusta Taurinorum) is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River, in front of Susa Valley and surrounded by the western Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 906,089 (May 2012) while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 1.7 million inhabitants. The Turin metropolitan area is estimated by the OECD to have a population of 2.2 million.
The city has a rich culture and history, and is known for its numerous art galleries, restaurants, churches, palaces, opera houses, piazzas, parks, gardens, theatres, libraries, museums and other venues. Turin is well known for its baroque, rococo, neo-classical, and Art Nouveau architecture. Much of the city’s public squares, castles, gardens and elegant palazzi such as Palazzo Madama, were built in the 16th and 18th century, after the capital of the Duchy of Savoy (later Kingdom of Sardinia) was moved to Turin from Chambery (nowadays France) as part of the urban expansion.
Turin is sometimes called the «cradle of Italian liberty», for having been the birthplace and home of notable politicians and people who contributed to the Risorgimento, such as Cavour. The city currently hosts some of Italy’s best universities, colleges, academies, lycea and gymnasia, such as the six-century-old University of Turin and the Turin Polytechnic. Prestigious and important museums, such as the Museo Egizio and the Mole Antonelliana are also found in the city. Turin’s several monuments and sights make it one of the world’s top 250 tourist destinations, and the tenth most visited city in Italy in 2008.
The city used to be a major European political centre, being Italy’s first capital city in 1861 and being home to the House of Savoy, Italy’s royal family. Even though much of its political significance and importance had been lost by World War II, it became a major European crossroad for industry, commerce and trade, and currently is one of Italy’s main industrial centres, being part of the famous «industrial triangle», along with Milan and Genoa. Turin is ranked third in Italy, after Milan and Rome, for economic strength. With a GDP of $58 billion, Turin is the world’s 78th richest city by purchasing power, and as of 2010 has been ranked by GaWC as a Gamma- world city. Turin is also home to much of the Italian automotive industry.
Turin is well known as the home of the Shroud of Turin, the football teams Juventus F.C. and Torino F.C., the headquarters of automobile manufacturers FIAT, Lancia and Alfa Romeo, and as host of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Several International Space Station modules, such as Harmony and Columbus, were also manufactured in Turin. It was the capital of the Duchy of Savoy from 1563, then of the Kingdom of Sardinia ruled by the Royal House of Savoy and finally the first capital of the unified Italy.
It is often referred to as «the Capital of the Alps». Turin is also known as «the Automobile Capital of Italy» or the Detroit of Italy as it is home of FIAT; in Italy it is also called «[La] capitale Sabauda».
The Taurini were an ancient Celto-LigurianAlpine people, who occupied the upper valley of the river Po, in the centre of modern Piedmont.
In 218 BC, they were attacked by Hannibal since his allies were the Insubres. The Taurini and the Insubres had a long-standing feud. Their chief town (Taurasia) was captured by Hannibal’s forces after a three-day siege. As a people they are rarely mentioned in history. It is believed that a Roman colony was established in 27 BC with the name Castra Taurinorum and afterwards Julia Augusta Taurinorum (modern Turin). Both Livy (v. 34) and Strabo (iv. p. 209) speak of the country of the Taurini as including one of the passes of the Alps, which points to a wider use of the name in earlier times.
The tribe of the Taurini is the origin of the city of Torino: Celtic in origin (most likely from the Austrian halstatt Celtic tribe within which all celts descended from), they joined the ligurian tribes peacefully. The city symbol and coat of arms is the rampant bull — Torino literally means «young bull». The Salassi, another Celtic Italian tribe, was also part of the Piemonte area which was eventually destroyed by the Romans. The language of the Piemonte region, Piemontese, still to this day contains many words of Celtic origin and is more than a dialect: it is indeed a separate language spoken to this day by the people of Torino and the Piemonte region, giving them a unique sense of identity and affinity with their ancient ancestral heritage.
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, but especially in the neighborhood known as the Quadrilatero Romano. Via Garibaldi traces the exact path of the Decumanus of the Roman City which began at the Porta Decumani which was later incorporated into the Castello or Palazzo Madama. The Porta Palatina, on the north side of the district is still preserved in a park near the Cathedral. Turin reached about 5,000 inhabitants at the time, all living inside the high walls.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the town was conquered by the Lombards, then the Franks of Charlemagne (773). The Contea di Torino (countship) was founded in the 940s, which was held by the Arduinic dynasty until 1050. After the marriage of Adelaide of Susa with Humbert Biancamano’s son Otto, the family of the Counts of Savoy gained control. While the dignity of count was held by the Bishop as count of Turin (1092–1130 and 1136–1191) it was ruled as a prince-bishopric by the Bishops. In 1230–1235 it was a lordship under the Marquess of Montferrat, styled Lord of Turin. 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 of Turin was also founded during this period.
Emmanuel Philibert, known with the nickname «Iron Head», made Turin the capital of the Duchy of Savoy in 1563. Piazza Reale, today named Piazza San Carlo and Via Nuova, today called Via Roma were added with the first enlargement of the walls, in the first half of the 17th century; in the same period the Royal palace (Palazzo Reale) was also built. In the second half of that century, a second enlargement of the walls was planned and executed, with the building of the arcaded Via Po, connecting diagonally Piazza Castello with the bridge on the Po through the regular street grid.
In 1706, during the Battle of Turin, the French besieged the city for 117 days without conquering it. By the Treaty of Utrecht the Duchy of Savoy acquired part of the former Duchy of Milan, including Turin, 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.
Turin, like the rest of Piedmont, was annexed by the French Empire in 1802. The city thus became seat of the prefecture of Pô department until the fall of Napoleon in 1814, when the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was restored with Turin as its capital. In the following decades, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia led the struggle towards the unification of Italy. In 1861, Turin became the capital of the newly proclaimed united Kingdom of Italy until 1865, when the capital was moved to Florence and then to Rome after the conquest of the Papal States in 1870. In 1871, the Fréjus Tunnel was opened, making Turin an important communication node between Italy and France. The city in that period had 250,000 inhabitants. Some of the most iconic landmarks of the city, like the Mole Antonelliana, the Egyptian Museum, the Gran Madre di Dio Church and Piazza Vittorio Veneto were built in this period. The late 1800s were also a period of rapid industrialization, especially in the automotive sector: in 1899 Fiat was established in the city, followed by 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 same event in 1911. By this time, Turin had grown to 430,000 inhabitants.
After the Great War, harsh conditions brought a wave of strikes and workers protests. In 1920 the Lingotto Fiat factory was occupied. The Fascist regime put and end to the social unrest banning trade unions and jailing socialist leaders, notably as Turinese Antonio Gramsci. On the other hand, Benito Mussolini largely subsidized the automotive industry, in order to provide vehicles to the army. Turin was then a target of Allied strategic bombing during World War II, being heavily damaged in its industrial areas by the air raids. The Allied campaign in Italy, that started from the South, slowly moved northwards in the following two years, so leaving northern regions occupied by Germans and collaborationist forces. Turin was not captured by the Allies until the end of Spring Offensive of 1945, and by when the vanguard of the armored reconnaissance units of Brazilian Expeditionary Force reached the city, it was already freed by the Italian Partisans, that had began revolting against the Germans on 25 April 1945. Days later, troops from the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored and 92nd Infantry Divisions came to substitute the Brazilian ones.
In the postwar years, Turin was rapidly rebuilt. The city’s automotive industry played a pivotal role in the Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s, attracting to the city hundred of thousands of immigrants, particularly from rural southern regions of Italy. The population soon reached 1 million in 1960 and peaked at almost 1.2 million in 1971. The exceptional growth gained to the city the nickname of «Automobile Capital of Italy» or «Detroit of Italy» (Turin is twinned with Detroit since 1998). In the 1970s and 1980s, the oil and automotive industry crisis severely hit the city, and its population began to sharply decline, losing more than one-fourth of its total in 30 years. The long population decline of the city has begun to reverse itself only in recent years, as the population grew from 865,000 to slightly over 900,000 by the end of the century. In 2006, Turin hosted the Winter Olympic Games.