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I live in Lyon an plan on spending a long "romantic/relaxing" weekend (3-4 days) in Italy with my gf.

The thing is I want to get there by train, which means I'm pretty limited in my choice: the city needs to be close to Lyon/France.

I know I can't get further than Turin (Torino) or Genoa (Genova), so I'm trying to decide between those 2 destinations (or another?). Is there a clear difference in "tourism experience/quality" between those 2 cities? Is there a clear choice for a first time in Italy?

I'm open to other cities as well as long as they are closer to Lyon, and they are big/distractive enough for 3-4 days.

I'm asking this on objective standards. I know for example that Napoli is not a very classic touristic destination when opposed to Roma or Venice.

I hope my question is specific enough and objective enough not to get closed.

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What about Milano? – RoflcoptrException Jan 18 '13 at 10:06
It's getting far, I'm trying not to exceed around 5 hours of train. – Matthieu Napoli Jan 18 '13 at 10:12
Okay I see, the fastest train I could find is 5:02 :) – RoflcoptrException Jan 18 '13 at 10:13
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Both Turin and Genova are two big cities able to provide you a lot of attractions, the choice of the best one really depends on what you are interested in and what kind of cities you prefer in general.

As a personal point of view I consider Turin far more elegant than Genova: nice streets with elegant buildings, the possibility to climb (by car or by a little old train) on the hill of Superga close to the city and have a wonderful view on the city and the Alps in the background, a lot of history related mostly with the period of the wars that brought to the formation of Italy as a single state (but also big roman ruins), the biggest egyptian museum in the world outside Egypt and a vibrant night-life.

Genova has a strong connection with the sea: the wonderful acquarium is considered its main attraction and its internal streets (Carrugi) are quite peculiar too. Even Genova has a rich history and has been one of the major european cities in term of power, so you can find several nice buildings reflecting this. I don't know about the night-life there but I never heard anybody praising it like I did with the Turin one.

Regarding the food, both have particular regional dishes (pesto from Genova for example) but I guess that Turin with the wonderful wines from Piemonte and the "fassona" meat could be considered better even from this point of view.

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Genova's population is significantly older than in Italian cities typically. So I'd bet on Torino for nightlife too. I visited Genova in November briefly, and in a way it felt like its glory days are long gone... – Jonik Jan 18 '13 at 11:25
@Jonik I don't know about the average age of the population in Genova but I guess that when you say that you feel like its glory days are long gone you refer to the sense of "disorder" that the city gives (at least to me). For what concerns the question, some people can find this feeling of "decadence" romantic (not my case anyway), that's why I said that deciding which is the best city really depends on the tastes of the user who put the question. – shard Jan 18 '13 at 11:31
(Follow the link I gave for demographics.) Yeah; not sure about disorder, but decadence rings a bell. Things were a little run-down. Then again, the lady at my guesthouse was welcoming and lovely, and I spent less than 24 hours in the city without seeing much of anything (so maybe I shouldn't judge it too early). – Jonik Jan 18 '13 at 11:42

A romantic weekend with your girlfriend? Well, what can be more romantic than taking a long walk in Parco del Valentino? Here's a picture from my last visit to Orto Botanico, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

Just walking around the Centro (the city's centre) is a fulfilling tourist experience, the city's architecture is its main attraction. I won't bore you with details that you can find in any tourist guide, the only thing that I must point out is that if you decide to visit Turin you shouldn't miss the Museo Nazionale del Cinema. It's a little bit more than its name reveals and far from limited to Italian cinema. I've spend about 6 hours exploring the various exhibits, and revisited the next day (I was foolish enough to ignore the panoramic elevator the first time).

Since you live in Lyon, you might have heard the medieval legends that link the city to Turin, the two cities along with Prague are supposedly the three points of the "international triangle of white magic". One of the more interesting stories I heard from locals was about the Monumento al Traforo del Frejus, at the end of Piazza Statuto, the figure at the top of the monument is said to look at the direction of Lyon. All this may not be your cup of tea, but I must admit the various stories were a great source of light entertainment during my first visit.

Turin's nightlife is... not its main attraction. You'll find several small cafés and bistros in the Centro, but your options after about 11pm are extremely limited. If you were visiting during the summer, the bars on the Murazzi would be your better option, during winter... I have no idea ;)

I haven't visited Genoa, but given the choice, I'd probably re-visit Turin, just for the architecture alone.

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