Feb. 9th, 2006

Brief (but well done) Turin Guide in the NY Times.

Published: February 5, 2006
WHY GO NOW From Feb. 10 to 26, Turin will play host the 20th Winter Olympic Games, surpassing Rome, Florence and Venice as the place to be in Italy. During that time, organizers expect 2,500 athletes, 10,000 journalists and more than a million spectators to descend upon the city. From March 10 to 19, it will revive its Olympic spirit as the host of the Paralympic Games.

Once thought of as the Calvinistic and industrial city that launched the Italian unification movement, Turin is exploding into a multifaceted cultural hub. It is a center of Italy's contemporary art scene, the birthplace of Italian cinema and home to some of the country's finest delicacies, including chocolate, truffles and wine. Fiat, Italy's once-mighty automobile powerhouse, also has its headquarters in this foggy town at the foot of the Alps.

As part of the Olympic charter, host cities are required to stage a cultural program to accompany the athletic one, and no one does culture quite like the Italians. During the Games, Turin will showcase a "Cultural Olympiad," which includes more than 50 events, including art exhibits, concerts, theater and access to historic sites. Visitors will probably want to pick up a Torino Cultural Card (Torino Card Olimpiadi della Cultura), available at one of the information points in the city, (39-011) 535-181, www.turismotorino.org, good through March 31. It provides access to all visual arts events in the Cultural Olympiad and discounts on other events. Cost is 16 euros (for two days) to 30 euros (five days).

Just as the 1992 Summer Olympics ignited a renaissance in Barcelona, count on the Winter Games to have the same effect in Turin. The Turinese have long known that their city is one of Italy's best-guarded secrets. Come February, the rest of the world will catch on.