View of Turin

Panoramic view of the City of Turin (Torino).

Lifting the Shroud in Piedmont

Turin is the automotive capital of Italy. And although we may poo-poo the Fiat, the Turinese take pride in their sporty little wheels (The "T" in Fiat stands for Turin.) This industrial city has created more than little engines that could, and is famous for much more than a sacred cloth. Turin is also the birthplace of gianduja – mouthwatering hazelnut chocolate, of lecca lecca – the lollipop, and of Vermouth (hence, also the Martini – although this is up for debate). So why don't more people visit?

Famous architect Le Corbusier defined Turin as "the city with the most beautiful natural location in the world." Set in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy and surrounded by the magnificent Alps, this was the perfect setting for the 2006 Winter Olympics. The event helped bring Turin to the tourist forefront of Italy. But with a Eurail Italy Pass or even a Eurail France-Italy Pass (the French border is but an hour away) you can stop for a day or two and soak up the sophisticated, aristocratic atmosphere. And with Trenitalia and Italo train service, it’s never been easier. Both trains get you there in style and comfort.

For many, there is one word that defines Turin – and that's "shroud." People wonder, "Medieval Forgery? True image of Jesus of Nazareth?" The intense debate continues. Damage caused by a fire in 1532 was painstakingly restored to this mysterious cloth in 2002. But this controversial "restoration" considerably altered the cloth's appearance. Adding to the authenticity argument, it has been announced that no further scientific examination would be permitted. Every few decades, the "original" shroud is on display. And while it's been put away now until 2025, you can still see a replica at the Museo della Sindone. The on-site museum features the history of the shroud and many photographs, some of which are life-sized and larger than life.

Turin is also home to top-notch museums where what's on display is most definitely authentic. At the Egyptian Museum, you'll discover the most important compilation of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo. There are over 30,000 exhibits, including an extraordinary collection of papyrus that can be considered as the most important set of Egyptian written documents in the world. Love movies? Come see the continent's finest cinema museum within Mole Antonelliana. Turin's landmark building was completed in 1888 as a synagogue and at 548-feet, the tower is the highest work of masonry in Europe.

Because of Turin's proximity to France, you'll note this isn't the typical Italian city. The boulevards are wider, the center filled with posh 19th century cafes and hilltop mansions crown Turin, making for great views from the many squares below.

This is grand Torino – home to cars, candy, artifacts and art. Shrouded no more, the city is ready for its close up. Just two hours from Milan, and with easy connections to France, Switzerland and the rest of Italy, the city need not remain a mystery.

Contributed by: Anna, Online Marketing, a Greek, whose most beloved place in the whole world is Paris.

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