Places of interest09 July 2019

Turin is the city with the largest pedestrian area in Europe

History, elegance, beauty! All this and much more represent the arcades of Turin, 18 kilometers of arches that have always been the symbol par excellence of the Piedmontese capital.

Piazza San Carlo Turin, credit Franco56

Piazza San Carlo Turin, credit Franco56

Of these, 12.5 are made up of continuous interconnected porticoes. The Turin archways are a real historical and architectural heritage that extends between ancient buildings and buildings of the early twentieth century. Made with different styles and materials, from the gray stone of Via Po to the marble of Via Roma, with their majesty and their play of light and shadow, the Turin arcades are the perfect setting for a city-living room like Turin.

The arcades were mainly made to allow the nobility to take long walks away from rain in winter and from too much sun in the summer months. Turin is not the only Italian and European city to enjoy this particular architecture, but with its 18 kilometers of arcades it has conquered the supremacy of the city with the widest pedestrian area in Europe.

[Corso Vittorio, credit Pmk58]

The first Turin arcades date back to the medieval period, but only in 1600 did the construction of the monumental porticoes, that we can still admire in the city, begin. The first testimony is the order of Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy of 16 June 1606 concerning the construction of Piazza Castello according to the project of Ascanio Vittozzi which included the construction of monumental porticos all around the majestic piazza. Always at the beginning of the 17th century, Filippo Juvarra built the porticoes of Porta Palazzo, while over a century later Benedetto Alfieri was entrusted with the task of redoing the arcades of Piazza Palazzo di Città.

We must arrive at the nineteenth century for the construction of the monumental porticoes of Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Piazza Carlo Felice and Piazza Statuto. The two railway stations of Porta Nuova and Porta Susa were joined with a porticoed path through Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Corso Vinzaglio, Via Sacchi, Via Nizza, Via Pietro Micca and Via Cernaia. The sovereign Vittorio Emanuele I of Savoy personally wanted the construction of 2 kilometers of arcades between Palazzo Reale and Piazza Vittorio where he used to take long walks and to allow the royal family to reach easily the Church of the Gran Madre.

[Via Pietro Micca, credit Sailko]

Even today, the city arcades are one of the symbols of the Piedmontese capital. Under their arcades, the people of Turin walk sheltering from the snow, rain and intense heat, peeking in the shop windows, sitting at the coffee and local tables found here. But not only. In recent years, in fact, the Turin arcades have become increasingly important, not only locally but also internationally, representing a major tourist-cultural attraction. For this reason, the “Portici e Gallerie di Torino” association was established in 2018 with the aim of making the most of this incredible heritage. There are numerous events that take place during the year under these magnificent arches such as: "Portici Divini", autumn event dedicated to wine with tastings and meetings; "Dolci Portici", a delicious spring appointment with the excellences of the confectionery art of the territory and "Portici di Carta", the longest bookshop in the world.

Today as in the past the arcades of Turin are at the center of the life of the city and represent a unique architectural heritage in the world, absolutely to be preserved.


Judit Neuberger

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