Frustratingly when you look at a park on Google maps, or the map that comes with the iPhone, it doesn’t show where to find the playground, or even if there is one. But you can almost guarantee that if a park is showing on a map in Italy, you will find play equipment somewhere.
Parco del Valentino in Turin is a large park running along the river Po and so I thought it best to ask a local for directions on where to find this Turin playground. They told us to walk as far as the Castle of Valentino and to then wind round down towards the river and the playground would be on our right.
Their directions were pretty accurate, but by the time we had passed the 16th-century royal residence we were able to follow a gaggle of children, who brought us round the back of a football pitch to a couple of well-equipped, fenced playgrounds flanked by a few items of funfair equipment – a merry-go-round, some dodgems and a small ferris wheel – and a little cafe stall selling espresso and ice creams. An entrepreneurial immigrant was selling balls and bubbles to round off the provision.
It looks like in the summer there are also some bars and cafes available nearby, but they were closed up for winter when we were there in early March.
The park is a little way away from the main thrust of Turin city centre, but is a welcome diversion if you are sightseeing with children. If you continue west you will also come to a reconstructed medieval village, complete with its own castle, that was built for the Turin Expo and apparently holds events in the summer, but it was closed for some renovation work when we were there. It is also possible to take a boat ride on the river Po, so plenty for us to come back for.