Superga and the Great Torino

Eleonora Ruzzenenti | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Located at 10 km of To[rino](, on top of the Superga Hill, after which it takes its name, the Basilica of Superga, is one of these sites where history and story meet. Burial place of a royal family, it is also the site of a terrible tragedy, and a place of international commemoration.

During my two years living in To[rino]( i used to go to the Superga Hill for jogging, i was fascinated by the stunning view of the city you can have from up there but above all by the unique and touching atmosphere this place evokes.

The Basilica was built by King Vittorio Amedeo II at a critical point during his reign, as a thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for defeating the French who assimilated Turin in 1706. Legend says that the duke climbed to the top of the hill to check on the position of the French-Spanish army that had been besieging the town for four months. He prayed to the Madonna for help and made a vow that in exchange for the liberation of Turin he would dedicate the site to the Holy Mother of Graces. The victory came, Vittorio Amadeo was crowned King of Sicily and the design of the basilica was entrusted to the famous Sicilian architect Filippo Juvarra. The building of the Basilica was made in 14 years. Being of great importance, the Basilica of Superga is visible from Turin and in addition from its terrace in front of the entrance you can admire the panorama of the city and the Alps. By the will of Vittorio Amedeo III, in a Royal richly decorated Crypt were buried some members of the House of Savoy. The underground crypt can be visited also today. Back of the Basilica there is a convent where the Fathers of the Order of the Servants of Mary resided. Externally there is a memorial statue dedicated to Umberto I of Savoy.

The best way to get to the top of the hill without using the car is the "tranvia" miniature train Sassi-Superga, unique in Italy. It is the continuation of a centuries-old tradition started on 26 April 1884 with the first trip by funicular railway system that was built with a Agudio: driving a steel cable that ran parallel to the track on pulleys arranged along the way. The line was later transformed in 1934, in Central rail and tramway to denture-driven today, fully restored, offers visitors a journey of another era on original carriages and an unforgettable panorama. The route runs for 3,100 meters between Stones (from Turin in piazza Modena, at 225 metres a.s.l.) till Superga (650 metres a.s.l.).

But Superga is not only famous for its history, most of the time it is remembered to be the place of the tragedy of Grand Torino. On May 4, 1949 the plane carrying the Football Team of the Grande Torino, in return from Lisbon, crashed into the back wall of the basilica of Superga, due to a probable technical failure (weather conditions were bad too). The accident killed the whole team along with the technicians, journalists and flight crew. The walls partially destroyed by the impact can still be seen because it was decided not to rebuild them. The emotional impact was enormous, because the Turin team had been one of the glories of the nation in sports, certainly the strongest football team of the time: nearly one million people attended the funeral in Turin and from that day that place became the commemorative tomb of the team. Currently the remains of the airplane, including a propeller, a tire and scattered pieces of the fuselage, but also the luggage of Mazzola, Maroso and Erbstein, are preserved in a museum in Grugliasco near Turin.

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