In the spirit of Hallowe’en, we had to mention the Door of the Devil, Torino’s most curious attraction.
How ironic that the Door of the Devil (Portone del Diavolo) is the name of the door to the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and because of the subject matter on the carved door and events that have happened within, the building is referred to as the Palazzo del diavolo.
Occultists claim that Torino is a city of magic in part because it is built on the 45th parallel where the Po and the Dora Rivers meet. According to magical experts, Torino is at the apex where two magic triangles meet – one of black magic (Torino, London and San Francisco) and one of white magic and positive energy (Torino, Lyon and Prague).
The richly carved door was designed and built in 1675 in Paris. There are cupids, fruit and flowers chiseled into the wood along with two eerie faces sculpted into the sides, watching all who enter. But the more disturbing details are in the center panel of lions, dragons, the ominous bronze clapper with horns and two snakes inside the wide open mouth, that lend the door its name.
The legends that surround the door and building could be why the building came to be called the Palace of the Devil.
- One legend says that on the night the door mysteriously appeared, a sorcerer’s apprentice had invoked the dark forces and an annoyed Satan imprisoned the magician inside the door for eternity.
- The legend of the dancer happened in 1790 when during a carnival party at this once imposing palace, a young dancer was mortally stabbed. Neither the weapon nor the perpetrator was ever found. On the same night an extremely violent, hurricane force thunder and lightning storm hit the city. Glass windows were shattered, all the lights went out, an ice cold wind blew into the palace and guests quickly departed for their homes. A short time later a ghost was sighted wandering the rooms of the palace, and it is claimed to be the ghost of the slain dancer.
- A third legend is of a French Major who, in the early 19th century, entered the palace to have a quick meal and never left. During a renovation 20 years later a skeleton was found buried standing up inside a wall.
Esoterism can be seen in Turin’s architecture – glance up at any facade and you may see wretched and sorrowful faces of people and animals in pain. However some say the gate of Palazzo Reale divides the city of devils from the city of Saints. After all, the protective Shroud of Turin is housed in this city.
Torino offers dozens of exquisite churches to seek out and explore. We have attached in the links at the bottom a few of our favorite pictures of churches we entered.
Located on the roof of the city’s former headquarters of Fiat, is the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli art gallery. This unique space has a test track on the roof that each fiat vehicle would drive as it exited the assembly line and a blue glass globe convention center raised 111 feet (34 meters) above the test track that is visible for miles. There were sculptures by Joan Miró, the Spanish painter and sculptor, next to the test track and this one made us smile and wonder, did he get hit by a fiat? 😄
Inside is a small art museum that exhibits a handful of Italians paintings by Canaletto, Tiepolo, Severini and Modigliani and a small selection by impressionist painters Renoir, Manet, Matisse and Picasso. We came across this painting by Alexander Calder. We were introduced to this artist and his mobiles in Washington DC this summer at the National Gallery of Art, East Building.
As mentioned, Turin is a magical city. In this case we are referring to the whimsical white sculptures by the gardener-artist, Rodolfo Marasciuolo.
Apparently these enchanting subjects appear and disappear regularly. The artist creates his romantic and magical sculptures from old vandalized benches, rusty bikes and other salvaged objects he finds.
Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino
The Albertina Academy of Fine Arts was our first stop upon arrival in Torino. Established in 1678, it was a Royal Academy for the arts and today continues as a school and library for approximately 1500 painters, sculptors and architects. We especially enjoyed the architectural design drawings and plaster casts that this heritage museum offers
Centro Italiano per la Fotografia
This Italian Center for Photography offers temporary exhibits and we were lucky to discover the interesting work of the Italian photographer, Walter Niedermayr (1952). His series of alpine landscapes was especially appealing.
Museo della Radio e della Televisione
In 1984, as part of a celebration of 60 years of radio in Italy, (1924-1984), this small but engaging museum opened to the public.
It is displayed chronologically highlighting the evolution of the various areas of communication (telegraph, telephone, radio, TV, recording), beginning with a few rare pieces from the 19th century up to the digital era.
There is an interesting table display of Italian microphones used through the years. The collection includes original documents, materials and recordings and a stage set for a popular talk show.
Museo d’Arte Orientale (MAO)
The Museum of Oriental Art opened in 2008 in a stately 17th century Palace with one of the Italy’s more important collections of Asian art. The 2300 artifacts represent cultural and artistic traditions from most of the Asian continent.
Collections are from India, ancient Gandhara and Southeast Asia. The Chinese collections cover the Han to Tang periods (202 BCE-907 CE).
The Japanese works are statues, paintings, and lacquers. The Himalayan gallery is dedicated to Buddhist art from Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. The final floor houses collections from Islamic countries, including Iraq, Iran, Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula. This museum is well worth a visit.
Torino is truly a diverse and interesting city but autumn is the time of ghouls, ghosts and goblins and the devil’s door and accompanying legends fit well with the season. Happy Hallowe’en!
Saluti from these Turinese,
Edoardo + Guilia (Ted + Julia)
View our photo albums of the churches of Turin: