The Basilica of Superga stands on one of the hills that surround the city of Turin. It’s a strategic viewing point, used by Duke Vittorio Amadeo of Savoy to give the best view of the field of play during the 1706 siege of Turin. A promise made at an existing small shrine led to the building of what would later become an impressive basilica, complete with royal apartments and royal tombs.
The basilica’s hill top location can be reached via a 20 minute tram ride from the suburb of Sassi up the steep slopes. Top tip, get there early for the hourly departure, as the tram can only carry 40 people at a time. I felt for the poor horses pictured in the station previously performing what must have been an arduous task.
Once up the hill, you can see as far as the distant Alps, and get a feel for the type of viewpoint that helped Vittorio Amadeo break that siege. The site was full of local Sunday day trippers, picnicking and taking advantage of the great Spring weather.
Filippo Juvarra, architect of many of the sights in royal Turin itself designed this breathtaking basilica, which was eventually completed in 1731. Apparently, it may have been influenced by Rome’s Pantheon, with more than a dash of baroque grandeur thrown in. Entry to the basilica itself is free (although we didn’t get much of a chance to look round as there was a mass in progress). We were able to use our Turin & Piedmont card for a 45 minute tour of the royal tombs. We could also have chosen a tour of the royal apartments. The tours themselves are in Italian, and I was able to understand just enough of the fascinating stories of dukes and duchesses, kings and queens.