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Torino mercatino delle pulci balon   copy  fill  1400x600

The Gran Balon: the great street market of Turin

Turin is an old city of grand boulevards, aristocratic palaces and sophisticated shops, but step away from the main streets and you'll find a different treat. The Gran Balon can be found just behind Porta Palazzo. The area has been a haunt for Turin's junk dealers since the mid-19th century and the best time to visit it is on the second Sunday of the month when a huge flea market takes place. Antique and retro furniture, toys and collectables mix with local lace and vintage clothing, attracting visitors from all parts of Italy and further. It's a great place to find year-round bargains or pick up unique Christmas presents.

Get there early when the market opens at 8:00 a.m. and you'll beat the crowds in snapping up the best bargains. The market boasts 250 stalls laid out between 50 shops. Part of the market is held in the covered Cortile del Maglio. Here you'll find quirky stalls selling products just made of paper. You'll also find plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the market when it's time for a coffee break or some lunch.

After treating yourself to some market treasures, delve into the heart of the Gran Balon for a ride on the hot air balloon that rises 150 metres above the area, giving you dramatic views of the city skyline. This attraction was created in 2012 as a tribute to the legendary origin of the market's name. Although there's no hard evidence, local accounts talk of a hot air balloon taking off from here in the 18th century. The balloon has now become a symbol of this largest open-air market in Europe. A visit should definitely be on any list of what to do in Turin.

Once your feet are back on the ground, you may ask yourself what to do next in Turin. Well another great reason to be in Turin on a Sunday is that entry to every museum is completely free. Plan your day's shopping so you have enough time to pop into one of the fascinating museums, such as the Egyptian Museum, home to the finest collection of Egyptian artefacts outside of Egypt. Marvel at the show stopping finds from the Tomb of Ka or the seated statue of Statue of Ramesses II.