History of Turin


Turin lies on the west bank of the Po River in the north-west corner of Italy. The City is the capital of Piedmont region one of the largest provinces in Italy. Turin was founded in 300BC by the Taurini Gauls (Celtic tribe) and was originally named Taurasia. Taurasia was later destroyed by Hannibal (Carthaginian general) who crossed the alps to invade Italy. The Gauls would forever be remembered by the city, through the symbol of the bull (Taurus being Latin for bull) which is still proudly in use today. The city's Italian name is Torino and it translates to mean "little Bull".

Castra Taurinorium

Julius Caesar, as part of a military strategy, rebuilt the city in 28 BC as a military colony and the gateway to the Western AlpsInterestingly the city was built in a classic Roman 'castrum' with a square layout (which can still be seen today). Castra was a term used by the ancient Romans to describe a building or land constructed as a defensive military position. The city was also surrounded by high walls . The defensive city would remain unchanged for centuries. The military camp was known as Castra Taurinorium but was later changed to Augusta Taurinorium in honour of Augustus. Following the fall of the Roman Empire c.476, Turin was conquered by the Goths, Lombards, Franks and for a short time by the church. In the 13th century the area became known as Piedmont, meaning "at the foot of the mountain".

House of Savoy

The House of Savoy ruled the area from the 11th century and in 1574, Turin was made their capital. The policy of the Savoy government was to turn Turin into an economic and manufacturing powerhouse and create a lifestyle to match the great cities of Europe. Amongst their strategies was to protect the city. Large money was spent on constructing a citadel and restoring the medieval fort. Also for the city to compete with the rest of Europe a great deal of money had to be spent on architecture and it was during this period (15th Century) that the city was redesigned and many palaces built. The finishing touches to the Savoy Government's policy was the founding of the University.In 1563 Emanuele Filiberto made Turin the capital of the Duchy of Savoy.Seemingly forever under threat, a series of bastions were constructed during the city's involvement in the Franco-Austrian War as a further attempt to strengthen its defense.These defensive strategies paid off in 1706, when invading French troops beseiged the city for 117 days and failed to conquer it, during the War of the Spanish Succession. This incident became known as the 'Battle of Turin'. As a result of the conflict, the Kingdom of Sardinia was annexed to the Duchy of Savoy in the Treaty of Utrecht.

In Pursue of Unification

From 1798 to 1814 ,Piedmont and its capital (Turin), were held by France under Napoleon, after being defeated by the French Republican army . It was Napoleon's general Joubert who took control of Turin. One of his first duties was to invite Carlo Emanuele IV to abdicate and leave . His request was complied with and as Emmanuele IV headed to Sardinia, the provisionary government took no time in voting to unite Piemont with France. In 1799 the Austro - Russians briefly occupied the city but were quickly dealt with by the French, during the battle of Marengo (1800). When Napolean's empire finally fell in 1814, Vittorio Emanuele I of the Savoys returned to the city to take control and began to actively pursue the unification of Italy. In 1861 under the Piedmontese statesman Count Camillo Benso di Cavour & King Victor Emmanuel II, the region became instrumental in achieving its dream. Turin became the first capital of the New Italian Kingdom. In 1865 the capital was moved to Florence and then finally to Rome in 1870. With their status lost, Turin turned its attention to commerce and industry. In 1899 FIAT was founded followed shortly there after by Lancia in 1906. Becoming a powerful industrialised city didn't come without some problems. Following World War I discontent between workers and industrialists came to a head and the city's first strike took place.

Turin Today

Today there is an estimated 1 million people living in Turin and is Italy's most important industrial center. Turin manufactures motor vehicles, clothing, textiles and electronic equipment. In 1899, during the industrial revolution, Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) established their factory in Turin .The Peidmont region produces two thirds of Italy's rice and is one of the leading wine producers in Italy. The area is known for wines such as Asti Spumante, Barbera, Barolo and Dolcetta. The Piedmont region is also famous for Vermouth that was created by Benedetto Carpano in his shop in Turin and the martini cocktail is named after the best known producers of dry vermouth, Martini & Rossi. Believe it or not Turin is also responsible for inventing solid chocolate. During the 18th century Turinese Doret, built a machine for processing and refining cocoa paste, which resulted in the production of solid chocolate. Other companies founded in Turin are Invicta, founded 1821, Lavazza, Martini, Kappa and the chocolate factory Caffarel. In 2006 Turin was host to the Winter Olympics.