Turin

(Torino)
   Located in the northwest corner of Italy near the French border, Turin is the fourth-largest city in Italy, with a current population of around 900,000. Like Milan, Turin can trace its history to Roman times, but its modern history began in 1718, when it became the capital of the kingdom of Sardinia. During the Napoleonic wars the city was a constant battleground. In 1798, it fell to the French. Austro-Russian forces fighting in Italy reconquered it in 1799, and the French retook the city in 1800. It remained in French hands until 1815, when the Congress of Vienna restored the Sardinian throne. In 1821, the city rose in revolt and demanded the granting of a constitutional monarchy; only the intervention of Austria restored absolute rule. After the Risorgimento in 1859–1861, Turin was the seat of the kingdom of Italy until 1865, when the capital was transferred first to Florence and then, in 1870, to Rome. The decision to move the capital provoked massive popular demonstrations in Turin in September 1864 that left 50 dead.
   At the end of the 19th century, Turin was Milan’s only rival for the title of Italy’s industrial capital. FIAT—still the city’s largest employer—began operations in 1899 and was soon giving work to tens of thousands of workers at its Mirafiori plant. The city’s workers gallantly resisted the Nazis during the German occupation in the latter stages of the war. During the 1950s and 1960s, the city became home to hundreds of thousands of southern Italian migrants, who were housed in hastily built projects on the city’s outskirts. Turin naturally became one of Italy’s most highly unionized cities, and the city has frequently been the scene of street clashes between the authorities and striking workers, most particularly during the “hot autumn” of 1969. Apart from FIAT, Turin is chiefly famous outside of Italy for being the home of the Juventus soccer club and for hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics.
   The city’s 15th-century cathedral houses the “shroud of Turin,” a cloth that appears to have an imprinted image of Christ, popularly believed to be the sheet in which Jesus was wrapped when he was taken down from the Cross. Carbon dating has confirmed that the shroud dates back to well before the Middle Ages. In 1997, the shroud miraculously escaped destruction in a major fire that left lasting damage to the cathedral.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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