When the joys of serial sightseeing or summer in the Savoy city begin to wane, there are a myriad of different destinations to escape to for a day. Vineyard, palace garden, mountain pasture or alpine peak: whatever bucolic change of scene you yearn for, Turin (and its easy transport connections) can oblige.
Here are six of the top day trips from Turin, each no more than a couple of hours by e-bike, bus, train or car.
Head to Via Lattea for alpine thrills and spills
It is hard to resist the call of the Alps in Turin: their enticing, snow-capped peaks can be seen tantalizingly on the horizon from any number of shopping thoroughfares and viewpoints in the city. On winter weekends torinesi head out of town to fly down slopes and warm the cockles with mugs of vin brûlé (mulled wine) at the resorts of the huge Via Lattea ski area. Come summer, walkers, nature lovers and fun-loving families flock to the same alpine pastures, now sprinkled with wildflowers and whistling marmots, to escape the city’s intense heat and embrace nature through a range of outdoor activities.
Whether you opt to explore the region by car or on foot, set out early in the morning for Pian del Colle (4740ft/1445m), a tiny hamlet close to the border with France. From here, head uphill towards Les Granges de la Vallée Étroite along a forest trail hugging the main road. At an altitude of 5800ft (1768m), sit down to a hearty lunch of cheesy, silky polenta topped with sausage ragú alongside a generous beer at Rifugio I Re Magi.
How to get there: Trains leave every hour from Torino Porta Nuova station to Bardonecchia (90 minutes, €15/$15.75 round trip), from where free buses (Linea 3, 9 minutes) shuttle walkers to Melezet; Pian del Colle is a 25-minute walk from here. By car, Les Granges de la Vallée Étroite is an hour and 40 minutes’ drive from Turin.
Feast on dizzying Savoy splendor at Reggia di Venaria Reale
Built as a 17th-century hunting lodge, Unesco-listed Reggia di Venaria Reale was the expansive residence of the Savoy royal family. An impressive estate with 150 acres of manicured grounds and a gargantuan baroque palace, this half-day trip dazzles visitors with royal apartments, salons, hallways and countless other rooms dripping in frescoes, gild and stucco. Its far-from-modest vegetable patch and kitchen garden is the largest in Italy, and lunch at Michelin-starred restaurant Dolce Stil Novo – with its dreamy terrace overlooking palatial pea-green lawns – is a romantic date to remember. The palace’s Museum of Theater and Magnificence and seasonal water-fountain shows are spectacular highlights.
How to get there: Pick up a public-sharing [To]Bike on Piazza Castello or Piazza San Carlo in Turin and pedal 10km to Venaria Reale along the Corona Verde Stura cycling route; the trail links several royal residences in Piedmont. By bus, it takes 30 minutes and costs €4 ($4.20) for a round trip with a one-day GTT ticket (€3/$3.15 if bought via the GTT To Move app) with bus No 11 from the city center. Or hop aboard the Venaria Express bus shuttle (€3.40/$3.60 round trip on weekdays; €7/$7.35 on weekends) from Piazza Castello or Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
In Bra, you can stuff yourself silly with true Slow Food
A small, unassuming town in provincial Piedmont, Bra makes for a thrilling pilgrimage no self-respecting foodie should miss. This was where the global Slow Food movement – which embraces the delights of naturally produced, locally sourced gastronomy – took root in 1986. Wander around the historic center to uncover tiny, family-run shops bursting with organic sausages, handcrafted chocolates and seasonal zero-kilometer farm produce – testimony to Slow Food’s contagious go-slow vibe, green thinking and sustainable soul.
Post-stroll, take lunch – alfresco in the courtyard on warm days – at Osteria del Boccondivino, Slow Food’s backstreet HQ. A rustic temple to regional produce, this authentic osteria woos culinary curios with local delicacies like salsiccia di Bra (the spicy local sausage), “Gobbi di Nizza Monferrato” cardoons (wild artichokes) and veal tripe. Don’t miss out.
Devote the afternoon (if you can still move) to tasting unusual vintages at the Banca del Vino, the wine cellar inside Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in the neighboring village of Pollenzo.
How to get there: Regular daily trains trundle between Torino Porta Susa station and Bra (45 minutes, €9.60/$10.10 round trip). Buses connect Bra train station with Pollenzo (20 minutes, €4/$4.20 round trip).
Savor Piedmontese wine country in Langhe
South of Turin, the Langhe wine region is renowned for its reds, in particular Barolo – made from 100% nebbiolo grapes and aged for at least two years in oak barrels, and produced in a very limited zone around the namesake town. The next village over is La Morra, with a beautifully maintained historic core that sits proudly atop sloping vineyards. Meander through them to reach the vivid Cappella delle Brunate, a very unique (and Insta-worthy) “chapel” painted by American artist Sol LeWitt, then sit down at Osteria More e Macine for a plate of supple tajarin – the delicate Piedmontese iteration of tagliatelle – and a glass of local, robust red wine.
Explore an ancient abbey with bird’s-eye views at Sacra di San Michele
Crowning Monte Pirchiriano (3156ft/962m), the hilltop Sacra di San Michele is a brooding abbey dating to 987 CE, with celestial views of the Susa Valley far below. Just 25 miles (40km) from Turin, the complex was originally a Benedictine monastery, later abandoned for a couple of centuries before being taken over in 1836 by the Savoys.
Post–abbey visit, swing past Birrificio San Michele, a brewery at the bottom of the mountain, for a platter of tangy salumi paired with a flight of aromatic craft beers. On weekends, the artisanal brewery offers free tours of its production area.
How to get there: Trains leave hourly from Torino Porta Nuova station to Avigliana (30 minutes, €6.20/$6.50 round trip) from where it is a 90-minute hike uphill. April to October, bus line 253 loops five times a day between Avigliana train station and the abbey (30 minutes, €4.40/$4.60 round trip).
Take in fashion, design and Leonardo’s Last Supper in Milan
Most urbanites who find themselves as far north as Turin can’t resist the hankering to drop in on northern Italy’s other great city. Fast, fashionable and with an enviably design-centric soul, glamorous Milan is the country’s edgiest metropolis and a brilliant contrast to its more traditional Turinese sister. Milan’s sublime pink-marble cathedral, the Unesco-listed church safeguarding Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, and your pick of the best city museums make for an enthralling day out. Lingering another day raises the curtain on dozens more things to see and do, such as watching the curtain rise at La Scala and savoring an expertly mixed Negroni along the Navigli.
How to get there: Regular trains link Torino Porta Nuova station and Torino Porta Susa train stations with Milano Centrale every 15 minutes or so. Fast/slow trains take one/two hours and single fares range from €12.45 to €36 ($13.45–$37.85).