I’ve been living in Turin for 4 years now and I’m very proud of my chosen city, which I consider one of the most beautiful and elegant in Italy. One of the things I love the most is the fact that it’s crossed by two rivers and one of the them, the famous Po, flows just in the middle of the city, but despite this, its sides have mostly been kept natural and grassy on both sides. To escape noise and traffic you just need to go to a place where you’ll forget where you are and feel like a noblewoman or a nobleman strolling in a beautiful park admiring the trees, the slow river and the hills just on the other side…in short…go to Valentino Garden!
It is the most famous and loved public park in Turin and it’s about 421.000 square meters wide…not so much in comparison to foreign parks (don’t expect anything like Central park!), but it’s full of trees and flowers and it’s populated by different species of migratory birds, ducks and squirrels. Here you can do jogging, biking and rowing or you can simply walk along tree-lined avenues admiring the riverside. Valentino Garden has also a stop for the Po cruises performed by two blue boats called Valentino and Valentina.
The first attempt to build a park in this area was made around 1630, but it was not until the second half of the XIX th century that the concept of Public Park fully developed. Therefore, in 1864, a plan was approved to create a green space for the citizens in the area surrounding the Savoia Castle (which remains the cornerstone of the park) by taking as a model the landscape gardens, which were so widespread at that time.
The name of the park has always been a mystery. Some documents dating XIII th century state that here stood a small chapel dedicated to San Valentino and containing his relics. Later the chapel was destroyed and the relics were taken to the near San Vito church on the other side of the river, but the area kept the name of the previous chapel. Anyway, nothing is certain and we keep wondering who Valentino really was!
The beauty of the garden is not only represented by its natural elements, but also by some interesting architectural heritage, such as the already-mentioned Savoia Castle, a reconstruction of a medieval town built in 1884 on the occasion of the General Italian Expo, the “12 Months Fountain” and the “Gunner Arch”, also called “little triumph arch” because it looks like a small copy of the famous French arch. If you happen to visit Valentino Garden, don’t forget to reach the Rocky Garden, which is an area full of streams, little waterfalls, paved paths and flowerbeds.
Valentino Garden could really be a slice of heaven if not for the crowd, which invades it during the weekends. During summer the grass disappears under dozens of people sunbathing or picnicking and the riverside looks like an august beach! So, if you are searching for silence and peace, I suggest you to just cross Umberto I bridge and go to the other side of the river, which is equally beautiful and much quieter and, moreover, it provides amazing views of the castle and the medieval town especially at sunset! Enjoy!