Of Turin’s many baroque squares, Piazza San Carlo is a standout. Lined with porticoed palaces housing historic cafés, and the twin churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo Borromeo, this square on Via Roma between Piazza Castello and Piazza Carlo Felice is one of the liveliest in the city.
Piazza San Carlo is often called “Turin’s parlor,” as it has been a popular gathering spot for locals since it was built in the 17th century. Its peripheral arcades are filled with busy restaurant and cafe tables, and the center of the square is full couples relaxing on the benches, children playing around the base of the statue of Duke Emmanuel Philibert, and tourists strolling through to reach the nearby Egyptian Museum. The square also hosts important public events, including New Year’s Eve celebrations and live streams of the city’s beloved Juventus soccer (football) matches.
Piazza San Carlo is a highlight of many private and small-group Turin walking tours or hop-on hop-off bus tours that visit the city’s top attractions. Other sights may include the Duomo, the Royal Palace, and Mole Antonelliana.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Most Turin tours of the city center and Piazza San Carlo are on foot, so wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat.
- The square is an excellent spot for a snack or coffee break at one of the sidewalk cafés that are tucked under the porticoes.
- With its wide, traffic-free spaces and street performers, Piazza San Carlo is a fun stop for kids.
- The open-air public square and its porticoed walkways are accessible to wheelchairs or strollers.
How to Get There
Piazza San Carlo is set along the main Via Roma thoroughfare in the heart of Turin, a short walk from the Porta Nuova train station and many of the city’s main attractions. Turin is a popular day trip destination from Milan; a direct train runs nonstop between these two cities.
When to Get There
The square is especially fun to visit during a Juventus championship game, when the space is crowded with local soccer (football) fans cheering on their home team.
Turin’s Café Culture
Turin has been famous for its literary cafés for centuries, and Piazza San Carlo has long been the center of the city’s café culture. The square is home to two of the most important and historic cafés in the city: Caffé San Carlo and Caffé Torino. Writers, intellectuals, and aristocrats gather here in the evenings to discuss politics, philosophy, and literature.