Turin is one of the most beautiful cities in northern Italy and once capital of the Kingdom of Italy. In the Piedmont region, it is rich in history and monuments, of which most are very well known. However, there are a few Turin curiosities you may not yet know about.
1. The Holy Grail
Is the Holy Grail in Turin? It could be. According to the writer Dembech, the Holy Grail is linked to this Northern Italian city. Some sources say the Holy Grail is hidden in the basement of the Gran Madre Church. Others claim that it is hidden within the chalice of the statue of Faith in this very church. And some argue that the Grail is located in the direction of the statue’s gaze.Dembech later clarified that the Grail is in Turin, but only as a symbol, not physically. However, some researchers of the Politecnico of Turin managed to identify the place to which the statue of Faith is presumably looking at.
This place is the Palazzo di Città (the city hall), and the chalices that decorates the front of the building seem to back up this hypothesis. Unfortunately none of these speculations can be confirmed, so the mystery lives on…
2. The first stamp in the World
You might be surprised to find out that the first stamp was the “espresso n. 1”, printed for the occasion of the first flight from Turin to Rome in 1917. On the stamp is the face of king Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. Written on it is “Airmail experiment, May 1917, Turin-Rome, Rome-Turin”. These 25 cent stamps were sold only three days before the flight, and people were limited to 3 stamps per person. Only 200,000 were sold exclusively in Turin and Rome.
3. The Witches Night
The 24th of June is known in Turin as the “witches night”. It occurs on the same day of the Feast of Saint John, but actually this celebration is linked to a pagan occasion: the summer solstice. i.e. the shortest night in the year. According to the pagan tradition, during this night bonfires were lit on the hills near the city in order to reject demons and witches and to prevent cattle illnesses.
There are many propitiating rites of St. John’s night. To see the future, old underbrush is burned in bonfies and new grass is picked. To assure a good year, garlic is bought; to assure money comes to a family during the year, a branch of fern is picked at midnight.
4. The city beloved by Nietzsche
Did you know that the famous philosopher Friederich Nietzsche used to live at 6, Carlo Alberto street? In his apartment, for which he paid 30 liras a month, he wrote his masterpiece,Ecce Homo.Nietzsche was infatuated with Turin’s magical atmosphere and wrote about it in his diaries. In a letter to his friend, Peter Gast, he wrote: “Turin, my dear friend, is a major discovery…I feel great here and I can work all day (…) I eat like a God and I can sleep well despite the noise of the coaches …”
5. The culottes scandal
Paul Poiret Jupe-Culotte was the first Italian woman who donned these pantaloons did so in the center of the city. She was in Carlo Felice square, as local chronicles refer, on the 31st of March, 1911. In order to avoid the ridicule and laughter which she endured from others, the woman had to hide in a perfume shop. She was wearing a “jupe-culotte”, pants designed by the French fashion designer Paul Poiret which became very popular in Italy later on.