Spend one day in a bygone era!
Discover Chieri: history and the city
Small town near Turin, that back in the days used to be more prosperous than it!
by Roxana Iacoban
After leaving the amazing Torinese hills, we headed towards Chieri, a small town about 11 km away from the buzz of the city of Turin. I found out that Chieri, back in the days used to be a richer and more prosperous city than Turin and I started to wonder how and why.
After a short walk along a narrow street we arrived in Piazza Cavour, a beautiful square with an imposing church of peculiar bright colors: Church of St Bernardino and Rocco. The facade is neoclassical and on top, covered by a beautiful cupola. I later found out that the colors were restored not long ago and they are the original ones, despite their particular aspect (even the Chieresi were a bit taken aback the first time they faced this change, but then they got used to seing pink and yellow everyday on their stroll downtown).
Chieri dates back to pre Roman times and it is thought to be founded by Liguria people, its name coming from Carreum – meaning stone which was the basis of Ligurian settlements -. It was a prosperous city, made of “bankers” as they were intended at that time: rich people (merchants) who lended money in exchange of interests (even abroad). It had over a 100 towers which surely reflected its richness. In Medieval times, the more towers a city had, the richer they were. Moreover it was famous in all Europe thanks to the production of different types of fabric, especially a blue colored one (fustian). In High Middle Ages Barbarossa invaded the city and is held responbile for the destruction of all the towers in the city.
Today therefore, there is only one left out of the one hundred back then. But some say this is maybe not true, since the structure of the towers in those times were not the most solid and with the new destruction weapons, they risked on falling down and destroying the whole city since there were so many. That is why some people think the disappearance of the towers might have been intentional.
The Dome of Chieri
There are many churches in the city (fact that again testifies its richness), but by far the most important both due to its majestic presence and historical importance – no to mention artistic heritage – is the Dome of Chieri. The facade is made of stone – which was very expensice back then – and it is an example of gothic architecture. We stepped inside both because we were all curious to see its splendour after our tour guide introduced us its history and because of the hot summer day we were facing. It is always refreshing when you step inside a church isn’t it?
I was taken aback by its beauty and its variety of styles and art. We found out that it was built in very short time seen its dimensions and detail, by the will of Amedeo the 8th of Savoia in the 1400’s. It has been a forever changing canvas, because renovated and worked on until the 1800’s. Moreover, one can find contemporary additions of local artists. It is a real excursus of both pure history and history of Art. We continued our walk uphill and I kind of knew what to expect: a breathtaking view of the city. We found another church of a peculiar shape and facade at our back and in front a beautiful panoramic view of the whole city!
We had to stop in the shade on ancient trees both to catch our breath but most importantly to have a moment of peace and quiet and of pure delight. Downhill we found ourselves on other tiny narrow streets and ended up in the same place where we started, in front of our last element that had actually caught my eye right away due to its imposing beauty: a Porta, a gate to the city (Arco trionfale), that had been built in honour of Carlo Emanuele the first of Savoia for the birth of his first child with Caterina D’Asburgo.
Throughout our stroll downtown, we encountered lost of happy welcoming faces and super kind locals. In two days there, we started seing familiar faces and stopped talking to elder ladies and gents to find more about Chieri nowadays. I was surprised to find out how multicultural it is, that is has many sister cities and that is still so rich and well off, culturally and economically.
Italia Slow Tour Ambassador @ Di Freisa in Freisa
Visit Turin: helpful hints
Italian name: Torino.
There is one airport in Turin called Torino-Caselle. A bus to the city centre leaves from there every 15 minutes in the working days and every 30 minutes in the holidays. It takes 45/50 minutes, price: 6,5€.
For transcontinental travel or for cheaper flights, land at the Malpensa Airport near Milan. From here, you can reach Milan Central Station by train or by bus (the train leaves every 30 minutes, it takes 50 minutes and costs 13€. The bus leaves every 20 minutes, it takes 60/70 minutes and costs 10€). Then, there are many trains connecting Milan Central Station to the centre of Turin: you can choose between Trenitalia and Italo companies, the trip takes 1 hour or 2 and the fee depends on the train you choose. There is also the possibility to take the bus, with Flixbus you can get to Turin in 1 hour and 55 minutes for 9,99€.
The major railway stations are Torino Porta Nuova e Torino Porta Susa. The flixbus leaves you in Torino Vittorio Emanuele which is also in the centre of Turin.
You can visit Turin on walk, by bike or by public transports. For buses, tram and subway there is one ticket. The price of the single ticket is 1,7€ and it lasts 100 minutes. There are also the option of the daily ticket, the 48 or 72 hours ticket or the weekly one. For many details visit the GTT website.
In Turin it is available the bike sharing service, with Mobike you pay 0,69€ every 20 minutes.
What to do in Turin
Turin is the capital city of Piedmont region in the north-west Italy. It is well-known for the Mole Antonelliana and the Egyptian museum. If you are passionate about football here you can find the Juventus stadium. Every year in May there is the International Book Fair. Every year in June there is also Di Fresia in Fresia, an event about wine. Nearby you can also visit Chieri, a small town near Turin, read some tips on Italia Slow Tour
Where to sleep
The centre of the city is definitely the best place where to sleep in Turin, since it is easier to move around the city. The areas near Porta Nuova and Porta Susa are way cheaper but still safe and near the centre of Turin.