Elegant palaces, spacious squares, historic monuments, grand historic cafés with marble tables and gilt-framed mirrors, excellent restaurants serving delicious local dishes… This is Turin, capital of the northern Italian region Piedmont. It might not have the international reputation of Rome, Florence or Venice but the number of visitors flocking to the city is increasing steadily every year and I’m not surprised. The city is a great place to live and here’s just a few reasons why I think so…
1. It’s Affordable
If you think living in a big Italian city costs a fortune, think again. Turin is surprisingly affordable. Renting a cosy 2-3-bedroom apartment in the historic centre of the city costs from $600 to $900 per month. I spotted a centrally located 92-square-metre 19th century apartment complete with frescoes and parquet flooring advertised for $950 per month. Buying a property here won’t break the bank either: prices for a one-bedroom apartment in the centre, near a metro station, start at $61,000.
Dozens of weekly farmers’ markets around the city mean that you can stock up on fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit for no more than $2 a kilo. Eating out in a traditional style trattoria serving generous portions costs less than $55 for two, including wine. You will pay $100 for two in a fine dining establishment but it’s still a fraction of the price compared to similar meals in Milan or Rome.
2. It Brims With History
In Turin history awaits you at every turn. The Royal House of Savoy resided here for centuries and left a distinctive mark on the city’s architecture in the shape of the magnificent Royal Palace, Palazzo Madama, Castle of Valentino and Palazzo Carignano.
Turin is also famous for its historic cafés decorated with gilded mirrors, dark wood panels, red velvet chairs and crystal chandeliers. Uniformed, courteous waiters will serve you a cup of rich hot chocolate spiked with Cointreau or a lobster sandwich on a silver plate while you admire views of an elegant historic square.
3. It’s Well Connected
Turin has an excellent and efficient transportation system with many buses, metro lines and metropolitan trains, which make it very easy to move in and around the city. You can hop on a high-speed train and be in Milan in an hour, Florence in three hours or Rome in four hours.
There’s also a modern international airport with hundreds of flights to all major European cities. Alternatively, you can take to the road and within two hours you’ll be cruising through France or pack your skis in the car and in just over four hours you can hit the slopes in Switzerland.
4. So Much to Explore
Turin has broad appeal. Foodies will never get bored tasting local specialties and exploring the many excellent restaurants in the city. For those with a sweet tooth, Turin is home to dozens of historic chocolatiers producing sweet delights.
There’s plenty of art galleries, theatres and museums to keep you entertained every day of year. Many internationally renowned opera singers and classical musicians perform in the local opera house. If you’re a football fan, head to Juventus Football Club’s home ground to take in a game.
5. English Speaking And Welcoming Expats
The large student population from the University of Turin and the Turin Polytechnic means that in almost every bar, café, restaurant and shop there will be at least one member of staff who speaks English, so you don’t need to be worry if your Italian isn’t up to scratch.
Turin is also a major industrial city with many companies employing foreigners, so you’re bound to bump into other expats from Australia, New Zealand, the U.K and South Africa in the streets or at one of the events organised regularly by InterNations and through Meetup.
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