Two Thousand Feet Above: A Visit to the Basilica of the Superga

If you’ve ever been to Turin, chances are you’ve seen the building high up on the hill that seems to be watching over the city. In fact, on my first day here as we drove from the airport to Turin, I’m pretty sure the first thing I asked was, “what is that building all the way up there?”.  And from that moment, a visit to this ‘building’ was on my bucket list.

More than 2,000 ft. above Turin lies the Basilica of the Superga. Built for Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy after a battle with the French in 1706. It is said that the Duke climbed to this hill, overlooked the battle, and prayed to the Madonna for victory. It was as though she answered his prayers when the French were finally defeated. In her honor, he had the incredible Filippo Juvarra (the guy who, I swear, built half of the city) build a Basilica on that exact hill- the location at which he prayed; and let me tell you…it is spectacular. Like all of the churches in the city or right outside of it, it’s comparable to an art gallery- an emotionally charged, spiritual, and tranquil art gallery that is solely made for God. I’ve never seen anything like the churches here and they often leave me speechless. Unless you are completely soulless, it’s impossible not to feel totally overwhelmed and moved by the beauty of these places of worship. However, the Superga just puts the icing on the cake- especially because of its location.
If you’re in Torino, even if only for the weekend, make sure this goes on your bucket list; it’s a must!

How to Get There:

From Porta Nuova: Take Bus number 68 towards the Sassi-Superga stop. The ride takes roughly about 30 minutes so plan accordingly. Although the bus will drop you off at the stop right after the station, there is absolutely no way to miss it or get lost. Just a few feet away is the little Sassi Station, fenced off from a mini piazza. Upon your arrival to the station, head inside and purchase a roundtrip ticket to the Superga. My roundtrip cost six euro and a kind station worker helped me buy the ticket from the machine.

The Sassi-Superga tram runs hourly.
From Sassi: Every hour, on the hour (12:00, 1:00, 2:00…).
From Superga: Hourly, but at 30 minutes past (12:30, 1:30, 2:30…).
I took the 12:00pm tram up the mountain and the 2:30pm back to Sassi. Be aware that the station is closed on Wednesday, so if you are interested in visiting the Superga on that day, you will have to take a car. In addition, the Superga is closed on Wednesdays between March 1- October 31. To view the full Sassi-Superga Tramway schedule, click here.

The Sassi-Superga Tramline is very unique and if possible, I’d recommend taking it to the Superga rather than a car; your experience is sure to be even more special this way. The original carriages with wooden interior bring you all the way up the mountain and allow you to catch an incredible view of the city and the Alps. The tram rides pretty slow, so it’s hard to miss anything. Get those cameras out!

Sassi Station

Upon Arrival:

Once you arrive to the Superga Station, you can follow the path to the Basilica or if you’re the outdoorsy type, follow the hiking trail to your left. Once you’re at the Basilica, find the bookstore (on the left side) that sells tickets to the cupola or simply, the duomo (~3euro). To enter the duomo, go through the church and to the right you’ll enter a very narrow, winding staircase. When you’ve finally reached the top, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the city and its rivers both surrounded by the Alps. I would recommend visiting on a clear day so that these views are perfectly visible from the cupola.
The duomo is open weather permitting- once you’re up there you can totally understand why. It’s not necessarily a walkway, but more of a slanted rooftop. It should go without saying but definitely be cautious.
Back down at the bookstore, you can purchase tickets for a tour of the Savoy Family Tombs or the Royal Apartment. Just an FYI: the tour is 45 minutes and is only in Italian.

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The VERY narrow staircase to the duomo.

Follow the path on either side of the Basilica and find the memorial for the “Grande Torino” football team. Sadly, on Wednesday May 4, 1949 an airplane bringing the football team back to Italy from a match in Portugal crashed into the Superga Basilica leaving 31 people dead, including 18 of the team’s players. The disaster shocked the world and now, each year on the tragedy’s anniversary date, thousands of fans make the pilgrimage to the hill to remember and admire one of Italy’s most beloved teams. Various game scarves, shirts, and memorabilia have been left here in the teams honor.

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After you’ve gotten your dose of the Superga, head back down to Sassi Station where there is a little café, again, overlooking the city. Sandwiches, drinks, coffee—I recommend eating here while you wait for the tram rather than eating at the Superga. You just can’t beat the view.

Plan on spending about 3.5 hours here. Surely you’ll spend less time if you choose not to take the tour of the Royal Tombs/Apartment.
However you spend your time here, let me just say: it’s worth it.

For more information about the Superga, its features, and when to visit, click here.

 


 

Word of Advice: Make sure you have your GTT bus tickets at all times (purchase them for 1.50 euro at any Tabbacchi store). On my bus back to Porta Nuova, two GTT workers and an undercover cop entered the bus and checked everyone’s ticket; and fined those who did not have one. Always carry extra!

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