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Describing Turin is not an easy task; the city is known for its cold, greyness and large industries. On the other hand, it is also a fascinating, interesting city. Linked to the Savoy tradition and being the ex capital of Italy, it is a city of charm, rich in historic monuments with the entrepreneurial spirit of a city in continual economic growth.

Turin is the capital of Italy's Piemonte (Piedmont) region, in the far north-west of the country, and is famous for a curious assortment of things: including Fiat, chocolate, football and the Turin Shroud. Close to the Alps, Turin makes a good starting-point for skiing holidays; it also deserves a few days to itself as tourist destination.

Turin does not have the political importance it once held before the parliament of a united Italy moved to Rome, but the city is a major industrial centre (most famous for car manufacturer Fiat) and the attractive Baroque town centre is cosmopolitan and gracious. The city is full of noble equestrian statues of Savoy princes and elegant arcaded streets for all-weather shopping and strolling, with an atmosphere that is calmer than most Italian cities.

Turin's tourist attractions include the Mole Antonelliana, a strange, spire-topped building which features on the Italian 2 euro-cent coin. A good museum of cinema is housed in the building. Other Turin museums include the excellent Egyptian Museum. Piazza Castello is the heart of tourist Turin, home to grand palaces such as Palazzo Reale, the royal palace of the Savoy dynasty, and Palazzo Madama, previously a castle, prison, barracks and senate house. Around the Piazza - and indeed throughout Turin - you will find elegant historic cafes; an important part of Turin life.

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