My trip to Turin was a breeze. I was just there to fill my free time while I was staying in Northern Italy. I remember how freezing it was, the warm bed in my friend’s flat seemed much more inviting than an hour train ride to Turin. But I reminded myself that I might not get the chance to be in this beautiful region of Italy again. My friend decided to come with me as he’s been to Turin before. He suggested that we go to Superga. Since I didn’t really have a clue where to go in Turin and didn’t have the time to plan, I decided to follow his lead.
I really like train rides in Italy. I wouldn’t say the trains are the best in Europe, but I do love the fact that they are quite cheap with heaps of options.
It was still winter and I was wrapped in countless of layers. We first stopped in Turin’s city centre. Of course it was just as amazing as I’ve heard. The sky was bright blue with a few clouds swimming around and there weren’t many tourists. Perhaps the cold weather made people stay in their bed. We basically skimmed the centre, here Palazzo Madama, there Palazzo Reale, and then we headed straight for Superga.
If you are ever in Italy, don’t forget to check out the train and opt for that instead of going by bus on expensive tours. For a lot of destinations there are several train company options. Slower trains are cheaper and this is often my choice when I have plenty of time.
Superga is Turin’s highest hill, and perched on this hill is a great church, the Basilica of Superga. The story behind this church could be traced back during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1706 when Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy and Prince of Carignan Eugene of Savoy went up this hill to see their enemy, the French-Spanish army. At that time there was a small church there with the statue of Virgin Mary. Seeing this Duke Victor Amadeus II knelt down and prayed. He promised that if he won, he would build a great, big church in her honour.
And guess what? They won. And so the Basilica of Superga was built.
After taking a bus to Sassi, we walked to a train station. The station only accommodates the route Sassi to Superga. This is one of the ways to go up the Superga and has been around since 1884. As we bought the ticket for the train, one of the officers told us that the train will be leaving soon, so we quickly ran and entered the train.
I have always been a fan of rail-based transportation. I think I got it from my dad who used to take me on all these train rides. I love seeing the panoramic scenery from a moving train. The sound of a train moving is also very comforting to me. I don’t mind being on a train for ages and I always opt for trains when possible.
Apart from trains connecting cities, I am also a huge fan of “unique” trains. The train going up the Superga indeed falls into that category. I’m pretty sure the technology that ran my tram that day was pretty modern, but the carriage I was in felt like I was still in 1884.
I grew more excited as the train slowly moved to the top. Bit by bit I could see Turin from above, the River Po glistened in the winter’s sun. A few minutes later, the train came to a stop and I was in Superga.
The view of Turin from Superga was spectacular. Clouds were forming but it did not stop Turin from looking charming. The Basilica stood tall and proud as if declaring its reign over this hill. Truly a remarkable sight.
I walked around the Basilica, adoring this marvellous building. Around the back I saw a memorial that made me stop. It was to remember the football team Grande Torina whose plane crashed into the convent located at the back of the Basilica in 1949. What an incredibly tragic accident.
I continued wandering around the Basilica and took in the view of Turin. It was truly quite an experience and I was lucky that there weren’t many people around to crowd me. Lunch time was nearing and I could hear my stomach growling. I was looking forward to having lunch in the city. So, we decided to go back down and enjoy the train ride once more.
The Superga left me in a state of excitement, awe and melancholy. I certainly didn’t regret my decision to follow my friend’s lead.
For those of you who are thinking of visiting Turin, don’t forget to visit the Superga and enjoy the unique train ride (and of course to see the beauty of Superga too!).
This week’s theme: Rail-Based Travels