When you’re in Turin, you won’t want to miss a visit to Superga Basilica. It makes a great half-day trip from the city, offering sweeping views, a ride on a historic tram, and of course, the grand edifice itself. This post covers everything you need to know for your visit.
What’s in our guide to visiting Superga Basilica?
2. Things to do at Superga Basilica
3. The Sassi–Superga Rack Tramway
4. Superga Air Disaster
5. Superga Shoes
6. How to Get to Basilica di Superga in Torino
7. Basilica Opening Times and Prices
High on a hill just south of Turin city centre sits a magnificent edifice, the Basilica of Superga. For visitors to Turin, Superga is easily accessible and makes a great half-day trip. Not only do you get to visit the Basilica up close but the setting provides magnificent views over the entire city with the Alps rising all around.
You can drive up, hike up, or take the historic rack tramway to the top. At the Basilica di Superga, visitors are welcome in the Royal Apartments, the Royal Tombs, and to climb the steep stairway to the top of the dome. Currently the Basilica itself is undergoing restoration, so the only way to see it is to attend Sunday morning mass.
After visiting Superga Basilica, take advantage of the hiking trails that lead from the Basilica into the Parco Naturale della Collina di Superga (The Natural Park of Superga Hill) where you can wander for hours along wooded trails, past burbling creeks, and through sun-dappled meadows.
There’s even a cafe in the park where you can stop for a bite or a glass of beer. We spent many happy hours wandering these trails while staying in nearby Pino Torinese.
So, if you want to add Superga to your Turin itinerary, read on for…
How to Visit Superga Basilica — Your Guide to a Great Day Trip
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History of Superga Basilica
War often destroys important buildings but with Superga Basilica, the opposite is true. Superga was actually created by a war.
In 1706, Turin was invaded by the French army, while Italian and Austrian troops struggle to hold them back. As the Battle of Turin raged, Duke Vittorio Amedeo II climbed Superga hill to observe the battlefield from a distance and work out a winning strategy.
At the time, there was a small church at the top of the hill, so the Duke turned to prayer for help. He vowed to a statue of the Virgin Mary that if his side won the battle, he’d build a grand church on the spot. Whether through clever strategizing, sheer force of will, or by the hand of God, the Italians won the battle and the Duke kept his vow.
In 1717, the long period of construction began with a 2-year project to flatten the mountain-top. At great expense, the Basilica slowly rose during the next 12 years, with the crowning achievement being the 75 m baroque dome, which has stood proudly watching over Torino ever since.
Things to do at Superga Basilica
There are several attractions that you can visit at Superga, and all are separately priced so you can pick and choose.
Attend Mass at Basilica Superga
The Basilica itself is intricately decorated with columns and sculptures of Carrara marble. The dome from inside is an impressive sight as are the many altar paintings. You can also visit the Chapel of the Vow, which still houses the wooden statue of Mary upon which the Duke made his vow.
Currently, the Basilica is undergoing renovation, so the only time you can visit is Sunday morning for mass. See the hours section below for details.
In the Royal Apartments, you can see the 18th and 19th century secondary residence of the Savoy family. Though much of the original decoration and furniture was plundered by Napolean’s armies, the original apartments have been faithfully reproduced.
Fans of tombs, sarcophagi, and royal lineages will enjoy the tombs, where around 60 members of the Royal Family of Savoy are buried. There are also many marble sculptures and chapels to explore.
The Dome & Cupola
Climbing the narrow winding staircase to the dome will bring you to an expansive view of Turin from above. If you’re there on a clear day, the Alps will sparkle in the distance, calling you to their craggy slopes. If not, you’ll see one of Turin’s biggest problems — the smog that regularly hangs over the city like a forlorn cloud.
Explore Superga Park
If you drive up to Superga, that doesn’t mean you’re out of options for walking and hiking. The Basilica sits on the edge of Parco Naturale Della Collina di Superga. The name is a mouthful, but it just means “nature park of the Superga hill”. Hiking trails criss-cross the park and you can go on a short or long hike right from the Basilica.
If you prefer to drive, head out along the winding Strada dei Colli, which takes you on a scenic route through the hills. You’ll come out in the charming village of Pino Torinese, where we stayed for almost 3 months!
It’s worth a stop to explore the local shops, selling regional produce, artisinal baking, and wine. There’s also a nice gelato shop and a coffee shop in town should you need some refreshments.
Stay in the Basilica di Superga Guest Rooms
If you want to stay in the hills overlooking Turin, you can book into the Servants of Mary’s guest rooms at Basilica di Superga. Recently renovated, these rooms offer comfort in the style of a (very modernized) 18th Century guesthouse.
They have single and double rooms, as well a family rooms that can accommodate up to five people.
The Sassi–Superga Rack Tramway
Though you can get to Superga by car or on foot, the experience is most interesting if you use the Superga Rack Tramway.
Originally opened in 1884, the tram cars were once heaved up the more than 400 m route by cables running alongside the track. The whole system was driven by a steam engine in the upper station.
Now, of course, the tram is powered by electricity and the cables have been replaced by an electrified 3rd rail.
Still, rattling along in the wooden tram as it strains to climb the hill, it’s easy to imagine gentlemen dressed in immaculate suits and ladies in Empire-waisted white dresses perched elegantly on the wooden benches as they rode up the hill to mass.
Superga Air Disaster
The Superga Basilica has another, darker story in its history. In 1949, an airplane carrying almost the entire Torino football team, who were known as Grande Torino, crashed into the back of Colle di Superga (the Superga hill).
The team had just played a friendly match in Lisbon and were flying back home. They had stopped in Barcelona to refuel and were on the last leg of their journey home.
There was bad weather in Torino, with lots of fog, strong winds, and poor visibility. Instead of cutting to the south of Superga hill, the plane drifted north and plowed into the embankment below the Basilica. Of the 31 people on board, none lived.
Football is such an important part of Italian culture that the Superga air disaster remains a national tragedy. If you have morbid curiosity, parts of the crashed aircraft and some of the player’s luggage can be seen at Museo del Grande Torino e della Leggenda Granata.
Even if you’ve never heard of the Basilica of Superga, you may know the name Superga from the popular shoe brand.
The Superga shoe company started in Torino in 1911 and was named after the hill where the Basilica stands. Now when you see their iconic “S” logo in your local mall, you can impress your friends with your erudite knowledge of tennis shoes. You’re welcome!
How to Get to Basilica di Superga in Torino
There are lots of options for visiting Superga Basilica.
By car. If you’re in a rush, driving to Superga is the quickest way to get there (and also the least fun). You’ll have to wrangle with the madness of Italian traffic and I defy even the most pious traveller to drive the whole way without swearing at a few of the crazier drivers.
From the city centre, it’s about a half-hour drive to the Basilica, where there’s an ample parking lot. There is a small parking lot at the Sassi station if you want to drive and take the rack railway to the top.
By tram and rack railway. The best way to get to Superga is to take the number 15 city tram from Piazza Castello, stop 471 Castello . Ride the tram for 22 minutes and get off at stop 589 Sassi-Superga. There, head inside to buy your tickets for the rack tramway which takes about 15 minutes to get to the top.
Hike to Superga. This is our favourite option, because it combines a fun outdoor activity with one of Turin’s major tourist attractions. There are plenty of routes to hike up to Superga.
The one I suggest starts in Croce, a small area near Sassi. From Piazza Vittorio Venetto, take bus 61 and get off at the Croce stop. The trail, marked Sentiero 29, starts off of Corso Casale, just west of the bus stop and Via Croce. It is clearly marked on Google maps.
Basilica Opening Times and Prices
- €3 for Basilica Dome
- €5 for Royal Tombs or Apartments
- €9 for Royal Tombs and Apartments
- Free with Torino + Piemonte Card or Royal Card
Currently the Basilica is undergoing restoration, so the only time you can enter is for Sunday morning mass, which begins at 11:30am. Entry is allowed from 10am.
Summer Hours: March 1 to October 31
- Thursday to Tuesday — 7am to 10pm
- Closed Wednesday
Winter Hours: November 1 to February 28
- Saturday, Sunday, & public holidays — 10am to 6pm (last entry at 5:15pm)
We hope this guide to Superga Basilica helps you plan a fun and flawless trip to one of the most famous spots in Turin. With hiking trails, impressive architecture, the historic rack tramway, and the magnificent view, it’s worth a half-day while you’re in the city. For more things to do in Turin, see our complete guide.
♥ Happy transformational travels, Jane & Stephen
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