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.
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 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.
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 ….
… the other area is in a slightly less glamorous part of the building:
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.
Surviving the trip on the lift/elevator, one is rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of Turin at the top of the cupola.
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.
Celebrating Italian culture, Italian architecture and ‘The Italian Job‘ in and around Turin
Travelling in style around the beautiful Piedmont capital