And now, let’s stay in the city centre, here we can really breath, feel and see the history, the art and the culture of this town… even if we don’t know exactly when, how and what happened… we will be able to enjoy that feeling… believe me.
If you love museums… you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Let’s walk through Piazza Castello, Piazza San Carlo, Via Roma and let’s go to the museo Egizio. One of the greatest in the world, second only to the museum in Cairo. Recently renovated, it hosts famous mummies, artefacts, books, enormous statues (I don’t know how they managed to transport them over… probably it wasn’t a Ryanair offer) and much more including great documentaries which help us to better understand the history of ancient Egypt.
Let’s keep strolling around the city centre… do you enjoy nature? Non c’é problema… ecco il ‘Museo Regionale delle Scienze Naturali’, I can’t wait to take my son Kevin there… you can see why!
If you’d like to know more about Italian history, something completely new or maybe a subject that’s already close to your heart, we have several museums such as the Museo Storico Nazionale Dell’Artiglieria (artillery), the most ancient museum in Torino with exhibits coming from throughout the world or the Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento Italiano (Italian Resurgence) which is a true journey in Italian history from Italian unification to the 1st world war with artefacts, weapons, uniforms, documents and art on display.
Talking about museums… there is something new and very exciting in Torino or rather underneath Torino. In fact, quite recently, during the construction of the parking garage for the Porta Susa train station they discovered a tunnel system which is more than 15 km long and consists of deeper main tunnels and service tunnels closer to the surface.
Allora let’s go to the Museo Civico Pietro Micca and find out what happened to Pietro Micca in one of the tunnels. We can descend and discover the intricate underground labyrinth. I haven’t been there yet, but I read that it is cold regardless of the weather outside. The ceilings are so low that we can’t stand but we’ll have to hunch down to get through. Interestingly, there are bricks that stick out of the wall which helped tunnellers and soldiers to know where they were when lights had to be extinguished. These tunnels were built by duke Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia to protect la Cittadella. He wanted the Cittadella to be the most modern and effective fortification in the world when he decided to transfer the capital of his dukedom from Chamberry to Turin. It consisted of a pentagon with a strongholds at each of its five corners. All around was a wide moat… left empty as the ground was too porous. The Cittadella was started in 1564 and finished in 1577. Apparently, the duke didn’t hesitate to destroy a couple of churches in order to accomplish his project and legends say that the defensive walls were filled with the debris of monuments, headstones, antic Roman ruins and other antique treasures he tore down.
During the famous Spanish war of succession the Cittadella was attacked by Louis XIV and his more than forty thousand soldiers.The Torinesi were able to repel the attack thanks to the strategic tunnel system. Extra holes had been dug and filled with explosive. The tunnellers used slow-burning fuses to time the explosions with incredible precision in order to destroy the cannons of their enemies from below. And now we’ll finally find out what happened to Pietro Micca.
Margherita Restelli tells us that:
On the night between 29 and 30 August 1706, a battery of French grenadiers found the entrance to the service tunnel and entered it. Micca knew he had to stop them. If they reached the lower tunnel, they would have had easy access to the heart of the Citadel and could have taken it from inside.
He was alone, and therefore unable to stop the enemy with force. Micca decided to ignite a short fuse, causing an immediate explosion that destroyed the stairs leading to the lower tunnel. The explosion prevented the French soldiers from entering the Citadel, but also resulted in the death of Pietro Micca, who was hurled into the air by the strong blast wave and choked by fumes.
A few days later, the steps where Micca had exploded the bomb were quickly bricked over. Micca’s body was buried in a mass grave. A year later his wife asked the duke for a pension and she was granted two loaves of bread per day.
So now we know what happened to this brave tunneller and we can all go and visit this part of Turin.
Just don’t mention art… please… to give you just a little taste, I will just mention that we have Leonardo Da Vinci’s self portrait…
I dare say that we might have enough of museums, our feet are sore and we are really thirsty… I have something in store for you, let’s go!