40 Best Sights in Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta, Italy

Castello di Fénis

Fodor's choice

The best-preserved medieval fortress in Valle d'Aosta, this many-turreted castle was built in the mid-14th century. The 15th-century courtyard surrounded by wooden balconies is elegantly decorated with well-preserved frescoes. Inside you can see the kitchen, with an enormous fireplace that provided central heat in winter; the armory; and the spacious, well-lighted rooms used by the lord and lady of the manor.

Castello di Neive

Fodor's choice

This family-run, 160-acre wine estate produces wine from seven vineyards in the Langhe region. Barbaresco is their star wine, and they also make fine barbera and dolcetto. Visitor tours, by appointment only, include a look inside their 18th-century castle, including the wine cellars, as well as a tasting of three wines.

Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea

Fodor's choice

The Baroque castle of Rivoli now houses a fascinating museum of contemporary art. The building was begun in the 17th century and then redesigned, but never finished, by architect Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century; it was finally converted into a museum in the late 20th century by the minimalist Turin architect Andrea Bruno.

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Forte di Bard

Fodor's choice

A few minutes beyond the French-speaking village of Pont St. Martin, you pass through the narrow Gorge de Bard to reach the fortress that has stood guarding the valley entrance for more than eight centuries. It now houses five museums: Museo delle Alpi, dedicated to the history and culture of the Valle d'Aosta region; Le Prigioni, an interactive walk through the former prisons; Museo delli Fortificazioni, which looks at defense techniques (fortifications) over the centuries; Museo delle Frontiere, which examines the political, economic, and cultural meaning of borders; and a children's museum, Le Alpi dei Ragazzi.

Via Vittorio Emanuele II, Bard, 11020, Italy
0125-833811
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €8 for one museum, €15 for two museums, €24 for all museums, Closed Mon. Sept.–July

Forte di Gavi

Fodor's choice

The origins of this imposing military fortress perched on a rocky hilltop above Gavi are rather murky, but it’s thought to have first been built atop the ruins of a 10th-century castle before being enlarged between the 16th and 18th centuries. The fortress was used as a military prison during both world wars, and today you can take a 45-minute tour to learn about its history as well as tour the courtyards, guards’ towers, and other rooms; call or email  [email protected] at least one day in advance for a reservation—and also to check opening times, as they can be erratic. Even if you don't see the inside of the fort, the area around it offers stunning views of the town of Gavi and the Alto Monferrato hills below.

Galleria Sabauda

Centro Fodor's choice

Housed in the restored Manica Nuova (new wing) of the Palazzo Reale, the gallery displays some of the most important paintings from the vast collections of the house of Savoy. The collection is particularly rich in Dutch and Flemish paintings: note the Stigmate di San Francesco (St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata) by Jan van Eyck (1395–1441), in which the saint receives the marks of Christ's wounds while a companion cringes beside him.

Piazetta Reale 1, Turin, 10122, Italy
011-19560449
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €15, includes the Royal Museums (Palazzo Reale, Armeria Reale, Cappella della Sindone, Museo di Antichità, Giardini Reali, and Biblioteca Reale), Closed Mon.

Matterhorn

Fodor's choice

The famous peak straddles the border between Italy and Switzerland, and all sightseeing and skiing facilities are operated jointly. Splendid views of the peak can be seen from Plateau Rosa, which can be reached by cable car from the center of Breuil-Cervinia. The cable car gives access to climbing and off-trail skiing on ridges that were once inaccessible. The Matterhorn Glacier Ride II cable car from Cervinia directly to Zermatt is expected to open in summer 2023. This hour-long ride will be the highest border crossing in the Alps.

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Mole Antonelliana

Centro Fodor's choice

You can't miss the unusual square dome and thin, elaborate spire of this Turin landmark above the city's rooftops. This odd structure, built between 1863 and 1889, was intended to be a synagogue, but costs escalated and eventually it was bought by the city; it now houses the Museo Nazionale del Cinema (National Cinema Museum), a worthy sight for film buffs. At scheduled times on weekends, you can walk all the way up to the top of the dome, a journey not for the faint of heart (and not permitted for children under age six).

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Monte Bianco

Fodor's choice

Monte Bianco's attraction is not so much its shape, which is much less distinctive than that of the Matterhorn, as its expanse and the awesome vistas from the top. You can reach the summit via a cable car that ascends from Entrèves, just below the Mont Blanc Tunnel. In summer, if so inclined, you can then switch cable cars and descend into Chamonix, in France. In winter you can ski parts of the route off-piste. The Funivia Entrèves whisks you up first to the Pavillon du Mont Fréty in just four minutes—a starting point for many beautiful hikes—and then in six minutes to the spectacular viewing platform at Punta Helbronner (more than 11,000 feet), which is also the border post with France.

The next stage up (in summer only) is on the Télépherique de l'Aiguille du Midi, as you pass into French territory. The trip is particularly impressive; you dangle over a huge glacial snowfield (more than 2,000 feet below) and make your way slowly to the viewing station above Chamonix. It's one of the most dramatic rides in Europe. From this point you're looking down into France, and if you change cable cars at the Aiguille du Midi station, you can make your way down into Chamonix itself.

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SS26, Courmayeur, 11013, Italy
0450-532275-in Chamonix
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €23 round-trip to Pavillon du Mont Fréty, €55 round-trip to Punta Helbronner, €34 round-trip to Aiguille du Midi, €37 round-trip to Chamonix, Closed Nov., May, and depending on weather conditions and demand

Museo dell'Automobile

Millefonti Fodor's choice

No visit to this motor city would be complete without a pilgrimage to see the perfectly preserved Bugattis, Ferraris, and Isotta Fraschinis at this museum. Here you can get an idea of the importance of Fiat—and cars in general—to Turin's economy. There's a collection of antique cars from as early as 1896, and displays show how the city has changed over the years as a result of the auto industry.

Museo Egizio

Centro Fodor's choice

The Egyptian Museum's superb collection includes statues of pharaohs and mummies and entire frescoes taken from royal tombs. The striking sculpture gallery, designed by the Oscar-winning production designer Dante Ferretti, is a veritable who's who of ancient Egypt. Look for the magnificent 13th-century BC statue of Ramses II and the fascinating Tomb of Kha. The latter was found intact with furniture, supplies of food and clothing, and writing instruments.

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Palazzo Reale

Centro Fodor's choice

This 17th-century palace, a former Savoy royal residence, is an imposing work of brick, stone, and marble that stands on the site of one of Turin's ancient Roman city gates. In contrast to its sober exterior, the two main floors of the palace's interior are swathed in luxurious rococo trappings, including tapestries and gilt ceilings. The gardens were laid out in the late 17th century by André Le Nôtre, landscape designer at Versailles, and the Armeria Reale (Royal Armory) wing holds a collection of arms and armor.

Piazzetta Reale 1, Turin, 10122, Italy
011-4361455
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €15, includes the Royal Museums (Galleria Sabauda, Armeria Reale, Cappella della Sindone, Museo di Antichità, Giardini Reali, and Biblioteca Reale), Closed Mon.

Pinacoteca Agnelli

Lingotto Fodor's choice

This gallery was opened by Gianni Agnelli (1921–2003), the head of Fiat and patriarch of one of Italy's most powerful families, just four months before his death. There are four magnificent scenes of Venice by Canaletto (1697–1768); two splendid views of Dresden by Canaletto's nephew, Bernardo Bellotto (1720–80); and several works by Manet (1832–83), Renoir (1841–1919), Matisse (1869–1954), and Picasso (1881–1973).

Reggia di Venaria Reale

Fodor's choice

Extensive Italianate gardens surround this magnificent 16th-century UNESCO-protected hunting lodge built for Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy. Inside, its Great Gallery is worthy of Versailles, and the attached chapel (Capella di Sant'Uberto) and stables were designed in the 1720s by Sicilian architect Filippo Juvarra. The Theatre of History and Magnificence houses a fascinating historical exhibition that tells the story of the House of Savoy. The upper floors are reserved for changing exhibitions.

Arco di Augusto

At the eastern entrance to town, and commanding a fine view over Aosta and the mountains, stands the Arco di Augusto (Arch of Augustus), built in 25 BC to mark Rome's victory over the Celtic Salassi tribe. (The sloping roof was added in 1716 in an attempt to keep rain from seeping between the stones.)

Piazza Arco d'Augusto, Aosta, Italy
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free

Basilica di Superga

Sassi

Visible from miles around, this thoroughly Baroque church was designed by Juvarra in the early18th century and, since 1731, has been the burial place of kings: no fewer than 58 members of the Savoy family are memorialized in the crypt.

Strada Basilica di Superga 75, Turin, 10132, Italy
011-8997456
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Basilica free, crypt €5, Closed Wed., Basilica: Mar.–Oct., 10–7; Nov.–Feb., 10–6; last entrance 45 mins before closing; Dec. 25–Jan. 6, Mon.–Fri. 10–5, Sat. 9:30–5, Sun. 12:45–5, last entrance 20 mins before closing

Casa del Conte Verde

The richly decorated House of the Green Count, in the oldest part of Rivoli, attests to the wealth and importance of its onetime owner, Amedeo VI of Savoy (1334–83). Legend has it that the count attended tournaments dressed all in green, hence the name. Inside, a small gallery occasionally hosts temporary exhibitions, which may increase the entrance fee.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta

Aosta's cathedral dates from the 10th century, but all that remains from that period are the bell towers. The decoration inside is primarily Gothic, but the main attraction of the cathedral predates that era by 1,000 years: among the many ornate objects housed in the treasury museum is a carved ivory diptych from AD 406 portraying the Roman emperor Honorius. You can also see frescoes dating from the 11th century above the Gothic vaults. The treasury and frescoes can only be visited on weekends between 3 and 5:30 pm, or with advance reservation on weekdays (except Wednesdays) also from 3 to 5:30 pm.

Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII, Aosta, 11100, Italy
0165-40251
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Duomo free, treasury museum €4, frescoes and treasury museum €5

Collegiata di San Secondo

This Gothic church is dedicated to Asti's patron saint, believed by some to have been decapitated by the Emperor Hadrian on this very spot. San Secondo is also the patron of the city's favorite folklore and sporting event, the annual Palio di Asti, a colorful medieval-style horse race that's similar to Siena's. It's held each year on a Sunday in early September in the vast Campo del Palio to the south of the church.

Collegiata di Sant'Orso

Originally there was a 6th-century chapel on this site, founded by the Archdeacon Orso, a local saint. Most of the structure was destroyed or hidden when an 11th-century church was erected over it. If you go up the stairs on the left from the main church you can see the frescoes of Christ and the apostles (ask the sacristan, who'll let you in). Take the outside doorway to see the church's crowning glory, its 12th-century cloister, enclosed by some 40 stone columns with carved capitals depicting scenes from the life of St. Orso.

Duomo

Dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, the Duomo is an object lesson in Italian Gothic architecture. Completed in the early 14th century, it is decorated so as to emphasize geometry and verticality: pointed arches and narrow vaults are completely covered with frescoes that direct your gaze upward. The porch on the south side of the cathedral facing the square was built in 1470; it represents the Gothic style at its most florid and excessive.

Duomo di San Giovanni

Centro

The most impressive part of Turin's 15th-century cathedral is the Cappella della Sacra Sindone (Chapel of the Holy Shroud), where the famous relic is housed in a sealed casket. The Sacra Sindone is a 12-foot-long sheet of linen, thought by millions to be the burial shroud of Christ, bearing the light imprint of his crucified body. The shroud first made an appearance around the middle of the 15th century, when it was presented to Ludovico of Savoy in Chambéry. In 1578 it was brought to Turin by another member of the Savoy royal family, Duke Emanuele Filiberto.

It was only in the 1990s that the Catholic Church began allowing rigorous scientific study of the shroud. Not surprisingly, the results have been hazy. On one hand, three separate university teams—in Switzerland, Britain, and the United States—have concluded, as a result of carbon-14 analysis, that the cloth dates from between 1260 and 1390. On the other hand, they are unable to explain how medieval forgers could have created the shroud's image. Either way, the shroud continues to be revered as a holy relic, exhibited to the public on very rare occasions.

Famiglia Anselma

This winery is known for its steadfast commitment to producing only Barolo—nothing else. The winemaker here, Maurizio Anselma, is something of a prodigy in the Barolo world, and he’s quite open to visitors. Contact them by email or phone in advance for an appointment.

Località Castello della Volta, Barolo, 12060, Italy
0173-560511
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM)

Centro

In 1863 Turin was the first Italian city to begin a public collection devoted to contemporary art. Housed in a modern building on the edge of downtown, a permanent display of more than 600 paintings, sculptures, and installation pieces (from a collection of more than 45,000 works of art) provides an exceptional glimpse of how Italian contemporary art has evolved since the late 1800s. The Futurist, Pop, neo-Dada, and Arte Povera movements are particularly well represented, and the gallery has a fine video and art film collection.

Gran Madre di Dio

Borgo Po

On the east bank of the Po, this neoclassical church is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. It was built between 1827 and 1831 to commemorate the return of the house of Savoy to Turin after the fall of Napoléon's empire.

Marchesi di Barolo

Right in the town of Barolo, this wine estate makes an easy, if touristy, option for getting to know the local wines. In the estate’s user-friendly enoteca you can taste wine, buy some of the thousands of bottles from vintages going way back, and look at display bottles, including an 1859 Barolo. Marchesi di Barolo’s cantine (wine cellars), at Via Roma 1, are open daily; book tours and tastings in advance online.

Via Roma 1, Barolo, 12060, Italy
0173-564419
Sight Details
Rate Includes: From €25 for tour and tasting, Reservations essential

Museo d'Arte Orientale

Centro

Housed in the magnificently renovated 17th-century Palazzo Mazzonis, this is a beautifully displayed collection of Southeast Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Himalayan, and Islamic art, including sculptures, paintings, and ceramics. Highlights include a towering 13th-century wooden statue of the Japanese temple guardian Kongo Rikishi and a sumptuous assortment of Islamic manuscripts.

Museo di Antichità

Centro

A small but fascinating collection of artifacts found at archaeological sites in and around Turin is displayed here. A spiral ramp winds down through the subterranean museum; and, as in a real archaeological site, the deeper you go, the older the objects on display. A life-size silver bust of the Roman emperor Lucius Verus (AD 161–169) is one of the masterpieces of the collection.

Via XX Settembre 88, Turin, 10122, Italy
011-19560449
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €15, includes the Royal Museums (Galleria Sabauda, Palazzo Reale, Armeria Reale, Cappella della Sindone, Giardini Reali, and Biblioteca Reale), Closed Mon.

Palazzo Carignano

Centro

Half of this building is the Baroque triumph of Guarino Guarini, the priest and architect who designed many of Turin's most noteworthy buildings. Built between 1679 and 1685, his redbrick palace later played an important role in the creation of the modern-day nation. Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy (1820–78), the first king of a united Italy, was born here, and, after a 19th-century neoclassical extension, Italy's first parliament met here between 1860 and 1865. The palace now houses the Museo del Risorgimento, a museum honoring the 19th-century movement for Italian unity.

Palazzo Madama

Centro

In the center of Piazza Castello, this castle was named for the Savoy queen Maria Cristina, who made it her home in the 17th century. The building incorporates the remains of a Roman gate with late-medieval and Renaissance additions, and the monumental Baroque facade and grand entrance staircase were added by Filippo Juvarra (1678–1736). The palace now houses the Museo Civico d'Arte Antica, whose collections comprise more than 30,000 items dating from the Middle Ages to the Baroque era.