In every corner of Turin, you will find traces of the Renaissance, 19th century vibes and spaces connected to events and people who 160 years ago created the Kingdom of Italy and made Turin the country's first capital. The names of the streets and squares, buildings and monuments and historic cafés bear witness to this era and the long, straight roads of the city, the beautiful tree-lined boulevards and the austere architecture catapult you back to the past.
Not far from Porta Nuova, in the current Largo Marconi, there is an obelisk dedicated to the carbonari revolutionary group which, led by the patriot of Cuneo, Italian insurgent Santorre di Santarosa, requested that Vittorio Emanuele I grant the Constitution and liberate Italy. In the city centre - between via Mazzini and via Cavour - at number 31 of the evocative street called Via dei Mille (the Road of the Thousand), you find Villa Levi where Giuseppe Garibaldi lived in 1859 when he was assembling the Hunters of the Alps. In addition to the monument to Garibaldi - the so-called hero of the two worlds - located on the Lungo Po Armando Diaz in 1887, the first pedestrian area in Turin, an elegant shopping street between two historic squares, also bears witness to his legacy. The squares in question are Piazza Statuto, which celebrates the concession of the Albertine statute in March 1848, and Piazza Castello with Palazzo Madama (today a Civic Museum of Ancient Art), once the seat of the first Subalpine Senate and, from 1861 to 1864, seat of the first Senate of the Kingdom of Italy. In terms of Renaissance importance, Palazzo Madama is second only to Palazzo Carignano, where Carlo Alberto and Vittorio Emanuele II were both born. This is where
the senators of the Kingdom of Sardinia gathered; the first Italian Parliament took place here on 18th February 1861 and it is here that the National Museum of Italian Renaissance is located.
Traces of Camillo Benso Count di Cavour, the first minister of the Kingdom of Italy and the "brains" behind the Unification can be found here: in the city, there is a square and a garden dedicated to him, a monument in Piazza Carlo Emanuele II, a street and the oldest liceo (high school) of the city. Palazzo Cavour, one of the best examples of 18th-century Piedmontese Baroque architecture, is the building where he was born and died and represents one of Turin's most important historic buildings. Today, it is an exhibition and events centre, but it was the birthplace of the newspaper "il Risorgimento" was founded and where the destiny of the new Italian kingdom was decided by the most important people of that time. The Ristorante del Cambio in Piazza Carignano is where Cavour had lunch and often hosted events; you'll be able to see the table where he enjoyed eating his rice or asparagus-based dishes, the traditional finanziera alla piemontese, his beloved vermouth and pastries.
The Cavourian atmosphere has been preserved in another two places: in piazza della Consolata, you'll find Bicerìn where Cavour used to sip on a bicerin (traditional Piedmontese beverage) on Sunday mornings , waiting for the royal family to come out of Mass, and Confetteria Stratta in Piazza San Carlo: it is said that in 1860, for the exorbitant price of 2,547 Lire and 60 cent, he bought 29 kilos of marron glacé, 18 sorbets, 37 caramelised fruits, pastries, jams and mini-meringues as nibbles for an official reception. You can still enjoy this atmosphere (and the cakes and savoury food) here, thanks to the vintage furnishing and boiserie. When entering historic cafés, it's not difficult to imagine the conversations that took place between politicians and intellectuals: at the Nazionale in via Po and at the San Carlo Cafe, on the square bearing the same name, democrats, liberals, moderates and ex Jacobites would come together. At Fiorio, also located on via Po, conservatives and reactionaries (known as codini) would meet. Other Renaissance-inspired spots in Turin are corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Largo
with the statue of the first King of Italy; at number 68 via XX Settembre, there is a plaque that recalls one night of November 1847, when tenor and choir teacher Michele Novaro - a guest of politician and patriot Lorenzo Valerio - wrote the score for Goffredo Mameli's verses to 'L'Inno d'Italia', destined to become Italy's national anthem. Then there's Corso Siccardi, dedicated to the minister of Justice of the Kingdom of Sardinia, who in 1850 passed laws abolishing the privileges of the clergy;
Casa Castiglione in via Lagrande 29: this is where Countess Virginia Oldoini, the woman who took centre stage in the Cavourian diplomatic drama, once lived; Palazzo Barolo, in via delle Orfane: this is where Juliette Colbert's parlour is located and it is where intellectuals and nobles once gathered to discuss politics, art and literature; amongst these, Cavour, Cesare Balbo, Alfieri, de Maistre, the papal envoys, ambassadors and Silvio Pellico, whom the marquess welcomed after years of imprisonment at the Spielberg (via Barbaroux 20), where a plaque reminds us that he wrote "Le mie prigioni" (My Prisons) there.