|The Mole Antonelliana and Turin, host of the 2006 Winter Olympics (courtesy, Citta' di Torino)|
Despite a period of industrial decay in the latter 20th century, Italy's baroque city of Turin, first inhabited by the Celts and Romans thousands of years ago, has undergone a 21st-century rebuff in readiness for its moment in the Winter Olympics spotlight.
Framed by the snowy peaks of the Italian Alps, the Piedmontese capital is the gateway for major skiing and snowboarding venues about an hour west of town, including Sestriere, Sauze d'Oulx, and Bardonecchia. And with a purported Olympics budget of $6 billion, the city is racing to put the finishing touches to a monumental facelift of refurbished cityscapes, spanking-new hotels, transport facilities, and beefed-up entertainment options. Barring the ironing out of some last-minute wrinkles, Turin is officially ready to welcome the some 2,500 athletes, over one million spectators, and a massive worldwide TV audience.
A chorus of Olympic hopefuls are all in agreement that Italy and Turin are primed for Winter Olympics glory.
"Italians have a joie de vivre that we don't have in North America," advises Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, part of Canada's 2002 gold-winning women's ice-hockey team and member of the 2006 squad.
And, as U.S. bobsledder Steve Mesler notes, "Of all the places in Europe that we travel to on a yearly basis, there isn't one country I look forward to being in more than Italy."
So to hasten your acquaintance with this atmospheric winter wonderland, we bring you a list of the best bets Turin has to offer, from great eats to great sleeps to great party places, as well as some indispensable insider tips from the top athletes on the U.S. Ski Team.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication