Welcome to Turin!

[Regions of Italy]

Northern Italy's magnificent Baroque capital has miles of covered sidewalks that make it pleasant in any weather, and its half dozen world-class museums (which have nothing to envy their sisters in Florence and Rome) offer excellent English explanations and are almost always near-to-deserted. Add a striking backdrop of perennially snow-capped Alps, a local obsession with world-class sweets and coffee and well, you have the perfect reason to spend two or three fascinating days in this off-the-beaten-track city.

The heart of the city is Piazza San Carlo, with its equestrian statue of Emanuele Filiberto, 7th Duke of Savoy. As a second son, he was destined to spend his life as a monk, but his brother's death propelled him to the throne at the most crucial moment in Savoy history, when the logistically-important dukedom was being contested by the powerful kingdoms of France and Spain.

You will find spectacular traces of ancient Rome in Turin. Porta Palatina is probably the best preserved example of a Roman city gate anywhere in the world.

The remains of an amphitheatre are also clearly visible next to the city cathedral.

But perhaps Turin's greatest claim to fame goes back well before the Romans: its Egyptian Museum is arguably the best in the world, thanks to the superb layout of its huge collection, enhanced by copious English-language explanations.

The top floors of the same building house the Galleria Sabauda, a vast art gallery that includes Italy's greatest collection of Flemish artworks. Forget the crowds at the Louvre, the Uffizi or the Vatican: this museum is almost always deserted.

Most of Turin's broad sidewalks are covered with porticos, allowing you to stroll from museum to boutique to café no matter what the weather.

You'll soon come to monumental Piazza Madama, a favorite meeting place for locals and home to Palazzo Reale (where you can visit the sumptuous Royal Apartments), the handsome church of San Lorenzo, and Palazzo Madama (another extensive art museum).

Of course, Turin is also the car capital of Europe! It was here the famed Fiat 500 was born, so the new 500 was of course inaugurated at Piazza Madama in July, 2007.

Lovers of modern art will want to visit GAM, boasting 19th-century Italian masterpieces and works by Modigliani, Balla, Severini, Dix, Picabia, Carra', Morandi, De Pisis, De Chirico, Depero, Savinio, Prampolini, Fontana, Picasso, Burri, Consagra, Guttuso and Schifano.

The city's most unusual monument is the Mole Antonelliana, home to a fascinating Museum of Cinema. Take an elevator to the top for breathtaking views of the city and the Alps.

Turin's residential neighborhoods are lined with stately mansions reminiscent of Paris….

…. and there are many inviting pocket parks like those in London.

Romans and Fiats, Pharoahs and Baroque Dukes: Turin is a combination of ancient and modern wonders….

…. and don't forget to treat yourself to a delicious pastry and heady coffee in one of the city's countless charming cafes!