What to do in San Salvario: the ultimate guide to the neighborhood
Laying on the left bank of the Po river, the district of San Salvario has gone from being a dangerous, unsafe neighbourhood, to becoming one of the trendiest areas in the city and the beating heart of the nightlife in Turin, over the course of only twenty years. While other areas might try to steal its thunder, San Salvario is the perfect spot to have a drink with friends or eat at some of Turin's coolest clubs. But young people looking for the best drinks and chats until the crack of dawn are not the only ones populating the neighborhood: San Salvario is also a multi-ethnic, multicultural and historical district, rich in green areas, churches and synagogues, fascinating portals, famous universities. Let's find out more.
Squeezed between the Po river and the railway line and stretching out from Corso Bramante to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the San Salvario neighbourhood is littered with treasures all to be discovered, both if you are a tourist passing through and if you were born and raised in Turin.
San Salvario: a bit of history
The history of the neighbourhood presumably dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century: a new regulatory plan filled the area of San Salvario, until that moment rather secluded and scarcely populated given its position outside the city walls, with churches, shops and new residents. With the construction of the Torino Porta Nuova station in 1860, the lower and middle class moved to the area, along with working-class people.
What to see in San Salvario
The Botanical Garden is the one thing you can't really miss in the area, inside the Parco del Valentino and very close to the Castle of the same name. It was created in 1729 to be the Royal Botanical Garden, as per Vittorio Amedeo II's wish, and for educational, scientific research and study purposes as well. Here you will find two small greenhouses, a grove, an alpine forest and a garden. The Botanical Garden was completely renovated and reopened to the public in 1995, and although today it is part of the Department of Biology, anyone interested can visit and enjoy it.
Where: Viale Mattioli, 25
What to do in San Salvario: a visit to the Botanical Garden of Turin
Parco del Valentino and Valentino Castle
Covering over 550,000 square meters, Parco del Valentino is the green spot of Turin, and one of the most popular parks: it is crowded daily with people running, walking, and riding their bicycles or rickshaws. Weekends at the Valentino are perfect for picnics and simply spending a few hours outdoor. Don't miss the Medieval Village, the Rock Garden and the Twelve Months Fountain.
Today, the Valentino castle is the home to the Faculty of Architecture, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the past, the splendid 16th-century river villa hosted, among others, Emanuele Filiberto and Christine of France.
Where: Corso Massimo d’Azeglio
Market of Piazza Madama Cristina
With all the colours and noise that are typical of all the other markets in Turin, several fascinating shops and stalls are waiting for you in the Market of Piazza Madama Cristina. When arriving from Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the market will welcome you to the neighbourhood; thanks to its indoor structure, it is the ideal destination to find shelter during the constant autumn rain, or during sudden summer showers.
Once a month, the square also hosts the San Salvario Emporium, where a hundred artists and craftsmen from all over Italy gather to promote and sell their unique products.
Where: Piazza Madama Cristina
The most particular building, which undoubtedly stands out in the heart of San Salvario, is the Synagogue with its neo-Moorish style and its towers, domes and exposed stones. Built in 1884, the Synagogue managed to survive the bombings of the Second World War in 1942, which caused only some minor damages to internal elements. It was later restored. Today, the Synagogue can be visited upon reservation.
Where: Piazzetta Primo Levi, 12
Cesare Lombroso Museum
Founded in 1876 in Turin by Cesare Lombroso himself, the controversial doctor and anthropologist, you will be able to see documents, drawings, photographs and bodies of crime, made by interns in asylums and prisons, inside the Museum bearing his own name. This museum is the perfect destination for anyone who is fascinated by the world of criminal psychology and deviance.
Useful tip: using the exact same ticket, you will be able to visit also the Fruit Museum and the Museum of Human Anatomy in the same location. You can't miss them!
Where: Via Pietro Giuria, 15
25 Verde looks exactly like a proper forest you could live in. And, as a matter of fact, it is a house, but it looks like a forest. The house can be visited during special openings. 25 Verde is supported by a steel and green structure: the many plants and trees present are the representation of nature in its blooming and luxuriant state.
Where: Via Chiabrera, 25
What to see in San Salvario: 25 Verde
Portone del Melograno (Pomegranate Portal)
The Pomegranate Portal, a true San Severo gem, is an iconic example of the ever-present Liberty style that decorates and embellishes many of the portals and buildings in Turin. Thanks to its refined look and its spectacular feel, it is arguably one of the most fascinating portals in the city: the structure is completely built in wrought iron, to represent two pomegranate trees intertwined. It was created in 1907 by the architect Pietro Fenoglio.
Where: Via Giovanni Argentero, 4
What to see in San Salvario: admire the Pomegranate Gate iconic example of the Liberty style
San Salvario district: where to go to experience the nightlife
Via Sant'Anselmo, Via Belfiore, Largo Saluzzo and Via Giuseppe Baretti are the places to be if you want to experience the nightlife offered by San Salvario. These streets are lined with clubs where you can have a drink after dinner, enjoy happy hour or try foreign cuisines, and you will find they are busy any day of the week, until the crack of dawn. The area is definitely messy during the weekend, but rest assured, here is where you will find the real nightlife any day of the week.
Five tasty spots in San Salvario
Mara dei Boschi, for the best ice-cream
Almost every single Turin resident has gone through the ice-cream flavours listed on the blackboard-like wall in Mara dei Boschi at least once in their life. Be bold with the pairings, you won’t regret it. But don't forget to try marotto, a cold gianduiotto without any milk; only hazelnut and chocolate: too good to be true!
Where: Via Claudio Luigi Berthollet, 30
What to do in San Salvario: enjoy the best ice-cream in the neighborhood from Mara dei Boschi
Officine Ferroviarie Brewery, for a burger to remember
If you’re craving for burger and chips late at night, this is where you have to go. Open until late every day of the week, Officine Ferroviarie is a go-to place, yet a bit underground. The underground is often used for concerts, and a beautiful terrace overlooking the railway is also open during the winter. Craft beers and American pub food, with several references to the railway world.
Where: Corso Germano Sommeiller, 12
Orso Laboratorio, the coffee you don't know yet
Right in front of the colourful market of Piazza Madama Cristina and yet slightly hidden from view, at Orso Laboratorio you will learn about coffee and its history. Because in this place, coffee is a proper art.
Where: Via Claudio Luigi Berthollet, 30h
Consulate of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
The building which houses the Consulate of Vietnam is a real gem in the heart of San Salvario, with its enchanting library and a lovely garden hidden by vegetation. During summer evenings, lights and cocktails fill the building.
Fun fact: here you can also apply for a visa for Vietnam, for tourist reasons.
Where: Via Federico Campana, 24
What to do in San Salvario: discover the Consulate of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Bicierin Ciclofficina con Cucina
Bicierin is the perfect place for all those bike riders who would never get off their two-wheelers to meet other bike-enthusiasts who share their passion. A cycle-workshop for broken bicycles and a coffee bar at the same time, here you can enjoy happy hour in the evenings, or brunch on Sundays. The world of bicycles is everywhere inside the diner, from the furniture to the decoration.
Fun fact: many of the products are locally made, and on Thursdays Bicierin turns into a venue for live music.
Where: Via Principe Tommaso, 26/G
Where to enjoy the view of San Salvario
And last, if you want to see San Salvario from an unusual perspective while having a meal only a few steps from the Synagogue, head to Eria. Dive into its delicious tapas and original dishes, sitting on the beautiful terrace hidden between the roofs of the neighbouring houses. Booking is highly suggested, even during the week, if you want to grab the most scenic tables with the best view.
Where: Via S. Pio V, 11
WRITTEN BY: Elisa Midelio, Viaggiare con Serendipità