A colony near the Po and Dora rivers, founded probably
ca. 25 B.C., about the time that the capital of the Salassi
(Augusta Praetoria Salussorum) was founded. Both reflect Roman strategic needs and tactical initiatives in
the area W of the Po valley. The Romans also needed
new centers for veterans and for those incolne whom the
Lax Pompeia de Gallia Citeriore had Romanized.
All these sites (often cited as outstanding examples
of urban grid planning or of the Augustan fortified city)
were presumably brought into being according to a perfectly regulated and predetermined plan of the Roman
land surveyors. The plan of the center of the city at
Torino is unequivocally Roman in origin, connected
with the geometric format of the castra metatio. Enclosed within a powerful defensive square, its area (ca.
800 x 700 m) is quite close to the canonical measurements fixed by Hyginus for the foundation of a fortified city.
The inner city was divided into four sections by the
intersection of the cardo and the decumanus; the blocks
were further divided by cardines and decumani minores.
The perfect unity of the plan is evidenced by the position
of the towers at the ends of the principal streets, where
four gates, according to tradition, opened to meet the
cardo and the principal decumanus.
Remains of the ancient boundaries are still visible
within the city, and the walls reveal an open rubble core
faced on the inner side with a refined opus incertum of
pebbles from the river bed, interrupted by a double
course of flat brick. The outer side of the wall had a curtain formed by a false brick facade. The best known
section of these walls was for some time the section next
to the Chiesa della Consolata. However, other notable
remains had come to light in all periods, even beneath
the present-day Public Health building and beneath the
Academy of Sciences in the vicinity of Via Roma. The
bombings of WW II brought to light a long section of
the circuit wall in the area closest to the Porta Principalis
sinistra (Porta Palatina); it is still the best preserved
even though mediaeval defensive structures were built
The Porta Palatina, considered one of the most beautiful examples of an urban gate, has two vaulted openings to permit the passage of vehicles and a smaller one
at either side for pedestrians. The architects of this gate
knew well how to harmonize the solidity of a defensive
structure with the refined elegance of a palace facade.
The chronology of this gate is still under discussion,
though its unity with the Augustan circuit wall would
seem to obviate attribution to the Flavian and Trajanic
The characteristics of the Porta Palatina are repeated
in two other gates in the city: the marble Principalis
Dextra, destroyed in 1635, recorded in a sketch by Giuliano da Sangallo; and the Porta Decumana, whose remains are still visible in the facade of the Palazzo Madama.
The Roman theater is still partly visible in the area
adjacent to the Porta Palatina, partly hidden by a wing
of the Palazzo Reale. Built close to the city walls in
order to avoid a natural gradient in the land, the theater
occupied nearly an entire block. On two sides it was
bounded by two streets while the porticus post scaenam
was its N boundary, right next to the city walls.
The remains still preserved in the former royal garden
show that in a period following the original construction
the building was enlarged and the rectangular enclosure
replaced by a more traditional front. The new and
larger semicircle, with strong pilasters buttressing the
walls, exceeded the boundary set by the earlier facade
and encroached on the roadbed of the neighboring street.
White marble slabs covered the podium which was decorated with false pilasters.
In the Middle Ages, an initial phase of dissolution
and disorientation of Roman organization may usually
be observed, but in Turin the perfect symmetry of the
Roman plan has been continuously preserved.
C. Promis, Torino Antica
Bandinelli, Torino Romana
(1929); P. Barocelli, “Appunti sopra le Mura Romane di cinta di Torino,” Atti
della Società Piemontese di Archeologia e Belle Arti
(1933); C. Carducci, “L'Architettura in Piemonte nella
antichità,” Atti del X Congresso di Storia dell'Architettura
(1957); S. Finocchi, “I nuovi scavi del Teatro Romano di Torino,” Bollettino della Società Piemontese di
Archeologia e Belle Arti
(1962-63) 142ff; id., BdA