History of Turin







Scrivici/write to us

Art and Culture in Italy     Information about Italy   Accommodation in Italy   Hotels in Italy (1 to 5 Stars)  

History of Turin                                             (Back to Turin main information page)

The Torinese are accustomed to absolutism. From 1574 Turin was the seat of the Savoy dukes, who persecuted Piemonte's Protestants and Jews, censored the press and placed education of the nobles in the extreme hands of the Jesuits. The Savoys gained a royal title in 1900, and a few years later acquired Sardinia, which whetted their appetite for more territory. After more than a century of military and diplomatic wrangling with foreign powers, the second monarch, Carlo Emanuele III (who promised to "eat Italy like an artichoke"), teamed up with the liberal politician of the Risorgimento, Cavour, who used the royal family to lend credibility to the Unification movement. In 1860 Garibaldi handed over Sicily and southern Italy to Vittorio Emanuele, and though it was to take a further ten years for him to seize the heart of the artichoke - Rome - he was declared king of Italy.

The capital was moved to Rome in 1870, leaving Turin in the hands of the Piemontese nobility. It became a provincial backwater where a tenth of the 200,000 population worked as domestic servants, with a centre decked out in elaborate finery, its caf? - decorated with chandeliers, carved wood, frescoes and gilt - only slightly less ostentatious than the rooms of the Savoy palaces. World War I brought plenty of work, but also brought food shortages and, in 1917, street riots which spread throughout the north, establishing Turin as a centre of labour activism. Gramsci led occupations of the Fiat factory here, going on to found the Communist Party.

By the Fifties Turin's population had soared to 700,000, the increase mainly made up of migrant workers from the poor south, who were housed in shanty towns outside the city and shunned as peasants by the Torinese. Blocks of flats were eventually built for the workers - the bleak Mirafiori housing estates - and by the Sixties Fiat was employing 130,000 workers, with a further half million dependent on the company in some way. Not surprisingly, Turin became known as Fiatville. Today there are fewer people involved in the industry, and Fiat's famous Lingotto factory has been turned into a conference centre and performance space, yet the gap left behind has been filled by some of the biggest names from other industries, especially those belonging to the worlds of textiles and fashion (Armani, Valentino, Cerruti and Ungaro), publishing (Einandi and UTET), and banking; the Banca Popolare di Novara is the most important co-operative bank in Europe


(Back to Turin main information page)



© italytravelescape.com