The Italian Job: A car lover's tour of Turin

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by Hertz - 06 September 2019

The Italian city of Turin is famous for many things – its outstanding architecture, the Juventus football team, the views of the Alps, and for being the country’s northern cultural and business capital. But it’s also made two enormous contributions to the car world: it’s the birthplace of Fiat, and it’s setting for the iconic piece of British cinema, The Italian Job.

Fifty years on from its release, Turin is still a great city for car lovers. Explore its history and future with our guide to the best places to visit for an auto-filled tour of Turin.

Italian Job locations

Follow part of the route Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) and his gang took in their trio of Mini Coopers back in the 1960s. Not much has changed in the 50 years since The Italian Job was released – although you won’t be able to drive exactly the same route.

Firstly, the three Minis drive down the Baroque staircases inside the Palazzo Madama, through the Galleria Subalpina – a busy, Renaissance-style shopping mall – and between the picturesque porticoes along Via Roma. For practical, legal and safety reasons, you can’t drive along much of this route, except some sections of road down Via Roma. 

After this, the trio descend the front steps of the church of the Chiesa della Gran Madre di Dio (Great Mother of God). You can walk up these famous steps, taking in the towering pillars that make up the Neoclassic façade, and look out from the top over the River Po’s Vittorio Emanuele I bridge. However, the gates at the bottom of the steps – and common sense – mean you won’t be driving down them.

They then end up on the sail-shaped roof of the Palavela arena, which was used as a skating rink in the 2006 Winter Olympics, and is still an impressive sight from the outside alone.

Finally there’s a chase around the FIAT factory rooftop race track – now the Lingotto Shopping Centre. Speaking of which …  

Lingotto Shopping Centre

 

Opened in 1923, Lingotto was the largest car factory in Europe – half a kilometre long and four stories high. Yet the highlight was – and for any car fanatic still is – the test track on its roof, the same one Michael Caine and his cronies raced round before escaping the city.

Once a sign of Turin’s industrial strength, more than a million cars were produced here until it closed in 1982. Since converted into a massive shopping space, hotel and convention centre, you can still access the famous test track – albeit on foot.

Head to the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli art gallery on the fourth floor. You can see part of the track through the windows, but buy a ticket to walk out to it, as well as gaining access to the gallery and exhibition.

The National Automobile Museum

 

True car fans can’t miss the National Automobile Museum, located three miles south of the city centre on the west bank of the River Po.

Set up in 1932, it was only really in 1960 when the collection started to grow. After a futuristic refurb in 2011 it became an even more engaging visit, and now boasts more than 200 cars spanning centuries.

The three floors use touch screens, displays and installations, and the sounds of the 1960s and Formula One engines to create an immersive experience.

The first floor covers a general history of the automobile, the second looks at the more technical car design elements, and the third looks ahead at the industry’s challenges.

Cerrina racetrack

For a literal hands-on experience, head to Cerrina racetrack on the western outskirts of Turin.

The track stands on the ground of a former kartodrome, which hosted the 1971 European championships.

This wiggle of asphalt has a number of configurations, ranging from 490 metres to more than a kilometre, with a combination of tight hairpins and long, fast and sweeping curves. 

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, make sure you arrange car hire in Turin for the full Italian Job experience.  And whatever you do, try not to blow the doors off.

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Article by Hertz

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