Turin … a Hollywood legend’s pair of shoes, a shaftless glass lift/elevator and a huge show of affection for a rodent shaped landmark: the stunning Mole Antonelliana

What do British authors Kenneth Grahame, Sue Townsend and the beautiful Italian city of Turin have in common? Maybe several things, but one answer is that they are all responsible for creating loveable moles. The Mole Antonelliana may not be a home-loving rodent or a troubled teenage diarist but it is a stunning and greatly admired neo-classical building that has stood in the heart of the Piedmont capital since the late nineteenth century. It is named in honour of its architect Alessandro Antonelliana and out of affection for its rodent-like snout-shaped cupola. That signature roof stands nearly 165 metres above the city and is usually all that is seen of the building for miles around.

Observing the Mole Antonelliana in its natural habitat from the top of the Monte dei Cappuccini, Turin

Observing the Mole Antonelliana in its natural habitat from the top of the Monte dei Cappuccini, Turin

The snout-like cupola of the Mole Antonelliana can be seen poking up between the city's porticoed buildings and rooftops all across Turin ...

The snout-like cupola of the Mole Antonelliana can be seen poking up between the city’s porticoed buildings and rooftops all across Turin …

turin Mole Antonelliana spire between buildings

... but to see the Mole Antonelliana in its entirety one has to go to the steps of the building and strain one's neck looking up at it. It is almost impossible to capture the whole building in a photograph even at such close proximity due to its vastness and how close other buildings are to it

… but to see the Mole Antonelliana in its entirety one has to go to the steps of the building and strain one’s neck looking up at it. It is almost impossible to capture the whole building in a photograph even at such close proximity due to its vastness and how close other buildings are to it

As well as in appearance, the ‘Mole’ as it is affectionately known locally, has recently been exhibiting rodent-like tendencies. It has ‘mothered’ litters of twenty-five annually since 2014. Apart from their identical shape and size, the litters display an array of colourful and often humorous markings, no two being the same.

The 'litter' of 2014: the winning twenty-five entries in the first annual 'That's A Mole' competition on display outside the Mole Antonelliana in June 2014. Entrants were simply asked to design a Mole silhouette

The ‘litter’ of 2014: the winning twenty-five entries in the first annual ‘That’s A Mole’ competition on display outside the Mole Antonelliana in June 2014. Entrants were simply asked to design a Mole silhouette

The Mole was initially designed to be used as a synagogue but with rising costs, endless construction delays and conflicts with the local Jewish community over its final design, it never did become a place of religious worship. Since 2000 however, it has become a place of cinematic worship housing Italy’s National Museum of Cinema. On the ground floor of the Mole the museum celebrates the history of cinema with original artefacts, interactive displays and an understandable bias towards Italy’s contribution to the medium. In the main hall the museum displays a delightful collection of latter day Hollywood film memorabilia and temporary exhibitions. The only glaring omission from the permanent collection is anything related to the 1969 comedy caper The Italian Job, filmed primarily in Turin in which the Mole itself features several times in.

Turin Mole Antonelliana interior Academy Award posters

The original certificate given to Audrey Hepburn by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announcing her Best Actress nomination for her performance in the 1953 movie Roman Holiday (I guess the museum couldn't get hold of the Oscar)

The original certificate given to Audrey Hepburn by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announcing her Best Actress nomination for her performance in the 1953 movie Roman Holiday (I guess the museum couldn’t get hold of the Oscar)

One of the famous flamboyant gowns actress Luise Rainer wore in the 1936 classic The Great Ziegfield, in true technicolour

One of the famous flamboyant gowns actress Luise Rainer wore in the 1936 classic The Great Ziegfield, in true technicolour

Viewing Charlie Chaplin's The Circus mirror maze scene through a maze of mirrors

Viewing Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus mirror maze scene through a maze of mirrors

Specifically, there are two areas in the Mole celebrating the life of the legendary Marilyn Monroe, the first being in the main hall as part of the museum’s permanent collection ….

Underneath three beautiful portraits (click on them below) of the young Marilyn by George Barris (and two from the notorious nude calendar collection she did before she became famous) is a pair of dainty shoes owned and worn by the actress

Underneath three beautiful portraits (click on them below) of the young Marilyn by George Barris (and two from the notorious nude calendar collection she did before she became famous) is a pair of dainty shoes owned and worn by the actress

… the other area is in a slightly less glamorous part of the building:

Turin Mole Antonelliana Marilyn Monroe toilet door

Turin Mole Antonelliana Marilyn Monroe and Woody Allen toilet doors

Yet, even the contents of a wardrobe owned by arguably the most famous actress that ever lived cannot quite take one’s attention away from the biggest interior attraction at the Mole: the panoramic glass lift/elevator. It runs through the centre of the main hall and through the cupola with apparently nothing but a few cables to support its ascent and descent.

The panoramic lift/elevator ascending through the floor of the Mole's main hall. Rows of red recliners are available across the hall floor for anyone feeling faint on first seeing the shaftless lift/elevator in motion (clearly several people on this occasion felt the need to have a lie down for that very reason)

The panoramic lift/elevator ascending through the floor of the Mole’s main hall. Rows of red recliners are available across the hall floor for anyone feeling faint on first seeing the shaftless lift/elevator in motion (clearly several people on this occasion felt the need to have a lie down for that very reason)

Regardless of appearances the lift/elevator is actually very safe to travel in. The carriage (centre, albeit blurred) moves steadily and doesn't wobble even without a housing shaft to keep it in position

Regardless of appearances the lift/elevator is actually very safe to travel in. The carriage (centre, albeit blurred) moves steadily and doesn’t wobble even without a housing shaft to keep it in position

It is also a wonderful if not fleeting opportunity to see the beautiful gilded inner surface of the cupola close up before popping through the hole at the top

It is also a wonderful if not fleeting opportunity to see the beautiful gilded inner surface of the cupola close up before popping through the hole at the top

The lift/elevator seen from the hall floor

The lift/elevator seen from the hall floor

Surviving the trip on the lift/elevator, one is rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of Turin at the top of the cupola.

The view across Turin and towards the Alps from the top of the Mole Antonelliana

The view across Turin and towards the Alps from the top of the Mole Antonelliana

The Chiesa di Gran Madre (centre-left) and Chiesa di Santa Maria on the Monte dei Cappuccini (right) seen from the top of the Mole Antonelliana

The Chiesa di Gran Madre (centre-left) and Chiesa di Santa Maria on the Monte dei Cappuccini (right) seen from the top of the Mole Antonelliana

Looking towards Piazza Castello

Looking towards Piazza Castello

A long way down from the top of the Mole Antonelliana. Suddenly the lift/elevator doesn't seem such a bad way to get back down again

A long way down from the top of the Mole Antonelliana. Suddenly the lift/elevator doesn’t seem such a bad way to get back down again

Opening times, ticket prices (one can enter the Mole and ride the lift/elevator without visiting the museum) and more on the history of the Mole Antonelliana can be found at the Mole’s official website here.

Details on the annual That’s A Mole competition and how to enter for next year can be found here.

… and more of my Mole Antonelliana photos and gushing Mole comments can be found on the fabulous Piedmont culinary website Turin Epicurean Capital here.

Turin Mole Antonelliana exterior from street night

TLT x

 

The famous steps of the Church of the Great Mother of God in Turin, star of The Italian Job

Celebrating Italian culture, Italian architecture and ‘The Italian Job‘ in and around Turin

 

 

A thing of beauty. One of Turin's many delightful old style trams with the Gran Madre di Dio in the background (contented sigh)

Travelling in style around the beautiful Piedmont capital

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