Just some 10, 20 years ago, some of the piazzas were quite different from what they are now......
Piazza Castello was full of parked cars, and the piazza was very, very much less 'decorated' as today.
Piazza Castello is the second largest piazza in Turin, it was designed by Ascanio Vitozzi back in 1584.
Remember when I first arrived in Turin, the piazza was full of parked cars, the buildings on the three sides were astonishing beautiful, but the same couldn't be said for the grayish piazza.
Now, various modification have been done, the car park was removed, the stone pavement was restored and cleaned, fountains were added and later with colors lights installed. Now the piazza is lively and vidid, often animated by street artists performing in the piazza, concerts are also often held in the piazza, in summer, the fountains are basically the playground of children to have fun with the water.
In the piazza, are located some major attractions of Turin. Right in the center of the piazza there is the Royal Palace, the Palazzo Madama, the church San Lorenzo which once kept the holy shroud when It was first arrived in Turin and now still keepin a copy of the shroud, the Palazzo della Prefettura-Armeria Reale and the Teatro Regio, the most important theatre in Turin on one end. In addition, there are 3 historic and spectacular monuments in the piazza : the Monument to the Knight of Italy, the work of Piero Canonica of 1923, the Statue of the army of Sardo Bishop, by Vincenzo Vela in 1859 and the monument dedicated to Emanuele Filiberto Duke of Aosta.
Three sides of the piazza link to the 3 major shopping streets of Turin :
In front of the palazzo Madama is via Garibaldi, one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe with many shops and restaurants. In the direstion towards the train station Porta Nuova is via Roma, a high end shopping street with many luxury products shops and is partially closed off to traffic. In front of the monument dedicated to Emanuele Filiberto Duke of Aosta is via Po which leads to the river Po, an interesting street with lots of shops, bars, restaurants and a row of used books stalls under the arcade.
Overall, the piazza is a perfect point to start exploring Turin, it has an historical sense and a vibrant atmosphere
From piazza Castello walk along via Roma, one reaches piazza San Carlo.
Piazza San Carlo is one of the most important squares of the historic center of Turin. Often dubbed by Turin the "living room" of the city, it is inserted into the axis of Via Roma road, which connects Piazza Castello and Piazza Carlo Felice.The most beautiful of Turin, former parade and the market ground , it maintains the seventeenth aspect of harmonious uniformity conferred by the Royal Carlo di Castellamonte (1642-1650).
In the center stands the equestrian statue of Emanuele Filiberto, represented by Carlo Marocchetti (1838) in the act of sheathe his sword after the battle of St. Quentin in 1557, one of the most important statues of the early nineteenth century (nicknamed El Caval d'brons) .The short side of the south-west square is bordered by the almost twin façades of the churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo.
Noble palaces that overlook the Piazza San Carlo, among which should be noted, at n. 183, the Palazzo Solaro del Borgo. A three-storey palace, with an elegant facade and porticoed to a sixteenth-century Castellamonte design for the Marquis de Senantes, then repainted by Benedetto Alfieri in 1753 for the Carnation Isniars, then sold in 1770 to the Asinari family of Bernezzo, who refurished it and in turn, in 1782, sold to the Solaro del Borgo. Today it is used as a hotel and as the seat of the Turin Philharmonic Society.
Worthy of a visit are the traditional cafés San Carlo, which opened in 1842, the Turin Coffee and pastries Stratta brothers, with the original furnishings of 1836.Recently completed, in 2004 work began on the redevelopment of the square, with its full pedestrianization through the progressive elimination of vehicular traffic and no parking to cars and the creation of a distributed underground parking on one level that will host 380 parking spaces.
Worth to pay attention also to the pavement of the piazza which often is the subject of many photographers.
Years ago, the piazza was less attractive, as traffic was allowed to pass through and cars would just went round and round the piazza like a parade.