Italy’s most magical city: Turin
Defining the horizons of Turin is the Basilica of Superga, located up the hills of the city. “Is it characterized by white or black energy?” I asked my tour guide – who stood to introduce me to the magical history of the city. “Not so white” she said. “Though built as a church by Juvarra – the mysterious plane carrying the entire Torino football team crashed in the back of the Basilica. The crash, since then adds a mystical element to the monument built by Filipo Juvarra for the Savoy dynasty.”
It is this mystical element that largely characterized Turin – the capital city of Piedmont that lies relatively unexplored in the bag packer’s tour of Italy. Its quiet charm and rich history make it a city that grows on you. Its history largely defined by it being the capital of the Savoy kingdom that reduced the territory of the Vatican and ultimately the unification of Italy – leaves a profound impact, imprinting intricate details about things you recognized but never really knew the source of. Fiat cars for example, are produced in Turin. Nutella and Ferrero Rochers, produced by Ferrero, are other examples of piemontese marvels. Hosting the third largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world, Turin’s Egyptian museum is yet another spot you would not want to miss.
What captured my imagination was yet another detail, of the various other details, that escape the perfunctory glance of the city’s visiting travelers – its magical connection.
The story of Turin’s magic begins with it being the only city in the world located in triangle of both black magic as well as white magic. The triangle of black magic is formed by the cities San Francisco, London and Turin. The white magic triangle is marked by Lyon, Prague and Turin.
Turin’s black magic tour begins with Piazza Statuto – the dark part of the city which was in the past – used as a dark spot where people were slaughtered. Slaughtered either for planning the overthrow of the Savoy kingdom or during the Roman times, for being a witch. Located to the west of the city centre, Piazza Statuto, since the Roman times, was considered inauspicious – as the sun sank in this part of the city.
Built over an ancient cemetery, Piazza Statuto is characterized by the presence of the Frejus fountain that stands as the emblem of dark Turin. The winged angel that lies about the fountain is meant to signify Lucifer, standing in the centre of the city’s dark past – overlooking and preventing the rise of titans, who once died while building the Frejus tunnel connecting Italy with France. Another interpretation is that the titans strive hard to overcome adversity to reach the pinnacle of reason. The pinnacle of reason however is viewed with suspicion by the church and so standing atop it is none other than Lucifer. In fact, from the top, Lucifer looks towards that part of the city which hosts the shroud of Turin–the white part.
Moving from Piazza Statuto, the next stop in the exploration of the city’s magical quarter begins with the Fontana Angelica in Piazza Solferino. Created by Giovanni Riva in 1930, the Fontana Angelica was initially meant to be placed near a cathedral. But when the church was cognized about Riva’s connection to the Free Masons the fountain was relocated to its present position. Built truly in the freemason architecture, the fountain has four statues. The male statues represent the Boaz and Jaquim of the temple of Solomon, a structure revered by the Masons.
The female maidens signify the seasons summer and spring – other masonic symbols with spring denoting growth and spiritual realization from the inside while summer – represents outward learning through the material world and stimuli.
Walking past Piazza Solferino towards Via Alfieri, one can gaze through various masonic and supernatural symbols the streets of Turin have to offer. Ironically most of the devil shaped faces often stand opposite to a church or shops selling clothes for priests.
And then when the streets of black magic seem to crumble, the white part of the city emerges. Interestingly enough it is in the Piazza del Palazzo where the black and white parts of the city meet.
From then forth the white streets of Turin emerge in full vigour. Unsurprisingly, these streets are associated with the Savoy nobility and the Shroud of Turin – a historic cloth housed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist of Turin that bears the image of a crucified man which many believe to be that of Jesus Christ.
The last stop of the magical journey ends with the Chiesa della Gran Madre or Church of the Great Mother of God. Gran Madre marks the last stop of the journey simply because it blurs the distinction between black and white magic after all – given the inherent dichotomies it presents. It is a church, but it is architecture is more like a pagan temple. And finally it has two angels – one angel having the head gear of the pope at her feet. The other, most mysteriously holding the holy grail or holy goblet – that provides happiness, youth and food in infinite abundance. While Dan Brown suggests that this may be buried in the inverted pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre – the Gran Madre offers two pointers. First, that it is either buried under the Gran Madre itself or second, that it points to the direction where the holy grail is buried – which in this case stands to be Paris.