Turin has dressed up for this Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), the first in Italy for more than 30 years.

A welcome greeting hangs on almost every lamppost in the city: "Torino, che Spettacolo!" Italy has won three times so far, before 2021 Toto Cutugno did it in 1990 with "Insieme: 1992".

The following year, the 36th "Concorso Eurovisione della Canzone", as the ESC was officially called at the time, took place in Rome.

In the late 1990s and 2000s, however, Italy decided not to take part; the Sanremo Festival was enough for the country for years.

Peter Philipp Schmitt

Editor in the department "Germany and the World".

  • Follow I follow

The first to win for Italy was Gigliola Cinquetti in 1965. She brought the tenth "Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone" to Naples with "Non ho l'età" ("I'm not old enough").

And as her song already said, Cinquetti was still so young at the time that the seventy-four-year-old could perform again at the finale in Turin on Saturday.

So this year Turin.

Of course, the city on the Po owes this to last year's winners, the rock band Måneskin, who brought the ESC back to Italy with "Zitti e buoni".

After that, 17 cities applied to host the contest, including Florence, Genoa, Rome, Sanremo and Trieste.

A few weeks later, however, Bologna, Milan, Pesaro, Rimini and Turin were shortlisted.

The requirements for the venue are high, the catalog includes, among other things, an international airport nearby and enough hotel rooms.

Most of the time, however, it fails because of the hall or the arena, which not only has to be available for six weeks (and which event hall in a big city is just empty for a month and a half) and also has to offer enough space for at least 8,000 to 10,000 spectators.

In October, Turin, the capital of the Piedmont region in northern Italy, was awarded the contract.

The main reason for this was the multifunctional hall Pala Olimpico, which offers space for almost 16,000 spectators.

It is located in the southern district of Santa Rita, right next to the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino and the exhibition center.

In the multi-purpose hall, built in 2005 by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the ice hockey tournaments took place during the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The ATP Finals in men's tennis are also planned in it in the future.

This, too, is already being advertised everywhere in the pedestrian zones of Italy's fourth largest city.

Turin, which has about as many inhabitants as Hamburg, is above all an economic metropolis.

The region is home to brands such as Fiat and Olivetti, Lavazza and Nutella.

In this respect, one wonders why the ESC is sponsored by the Canadian cosmetics line Moroccanoil, by Booking.com (headquarters in Amsterdam) and the Spanish low-cost airline Vueling.

But the ESC is an international event, and even if not in Canada, an American Song Contest has been taking place in the United States, right next door, since this year.

But Turin was also once an important center of power in Europe, as the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, later of the Kingdom of Sardinia and briefly even as the first capital of unified Italy.

Dozens of palaces and residences have been preserved, the historic baroque center has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1997.

And Turin has guarded something else for many centuries and meanwhile for the Vatican: the Sindone.

Tourist attraction is a Shroud

The shroud of Jesus, in which he is said to have been wrapped after the crucifixion, attracts tens of thousands to the city every year, even if it cannot be seen at all.

Even these days, queues form at Turin Cathedral to catch a glimpse of basically nothing.

The cloth, almost 4.5 meters long and a good one meter wide, shows and contains all sorts of traces: human blood, water and burn stains as well as pollen from flowers, which suggest that the cloth may have once been in the region of Palestine.

No one knows how old it is, but it has been in Turin since 1578 and has been the property of the Holy See since 1983.

Accordingly, it is only shown if the pope gives his consent, this usually happens when he himself makes his way to Turin, most recently Pope Francis came in 2020, before that in 2015. This is probably not to be expected in this ESC week.

But you can also make ends meet with more worldly desires in Turin, as thousands of ESC fans who have traveled to the site will certainly confirm at the moment.

Piedmont, which means something like "at the foot of the mountains", is known for its wines, Barolo, Barbera, Barbaresco.

Also for truffles and cheese and especially for meat: beef with Barolo (Spezzatino al Barolo) for example or rabbit with peppers (Coniglio ai peperoni).

A treat for in between are the cold cuts, such as Salame al Tartufo Bianco di Alba (salami with white truffle) or ham from the Vigezzo Valley.

But vegetarian cuisine is also becoming increasingly popular in Italy.

An insider tip in the central market hall of Turin, the Mercato Centrale Torino, with its food stalls, is the "Trattoria Vegetale" by Antonio Chiodi Latini with its unusual dishes: raw green asparagus salad, artichokes with walnuts and lemon, maybe a torta gianduia for dessert.

Another Turin specialty: Gianduia is a chocolate mixture with hazelnut paste that was invented in the city during Napoleon's reign.