Turin has a submarine, a maritime museum, and a sailor association, even without facing the sea. The city is connected to the Italian naval history in many ways, as you can discover in this post. The Valentino Park’s submersible holds the city’s (naval) flag high while firmly on the ground.
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The city of Turin is landlocked but boasts a respectable naval history. Many sailors and admirals were from Turin, while parts of ships and military submarines were produced in Turin. The FIAT group, in fact, had companies specialising in constructing naval engines. For this reason, Turin hosts the ANMI headquarters, the National Sailors’ Association of Italy, more known for the submersible on display in their courtyard at Valentino Park.
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The ANMI, National Sailors’ Association of Italy, was the first mutual aid association for sailors from the Regia Marina. Founded in Turin in 1896, it survived the collapse of the monarchy. Today, ANMI runs a small museum on the ground floor of its headquarters, a restaurant for associates on the first floor, and a library about the military and merchant navy. It also organises activities for its members, such as kayaking courses and river watching.
The differences between submarine and submersible
At the Naval Museum in Turin, I discovered that submarine and submersible are not the exact vehicles. They aren’t also synonymous, as explained by Mr Nazario, a retired former submariner who was my guide during this visit. Submarines and submersibles are two different types of underwater means of transport.
Submersibles have lower speeds when underwater than when they emerged because they are designed to navigate mainly on the surface and submerge for limited periods. Submarines, however, were intended always to sail underwater and have a more streamlined shape.
The military navy units designed up to the end of World War II, as the submersible shown here, are almost all submersibles. Different names for different watercraft are also used in other languages. Such as German U-boot and tauchboot, or Italian, sottomarini e sommergibili.
About the submersible Andrea Provana
The submersible Andrea Provana, now on display at Valentino Park in Turin, was a combat vessel. However, it did not participate in any battles because it entered service in September 1918, when the First World War was practically over.
Two years later, it became a training submersible at the Naval Academy in Livorno. Its only military campaign was in 1923 when the Italian fleet occupied the island following a dispute with Greece, known as the Corfu incident. In 1927, the submarine Andrea Provana was decommissioned after an engine accident.
How the submersible Andrea Provana ended up at Valentino
Between the 19th and 20th centuries, Valentino Park hosted numerous international exhibitions, congresses and cultural initiatives. The topics were varied: fashion, Savoy history, colonies, agricultural and industrial production, art and more. Although it seems impossible now, Turin was much more important than Milan, and every Expo was held here.
During the 1928 World Expo, the Regia Marina placed the central part of the submersible with its turret in front of its pavilion. At the end of the exhibition, the submersible moved to the ANMI headquarters, and it found its definitive location in Valentino Park in 1933.
In the same ANMI headquarters’ courtyard at Valentino Park in Turin, beyond the Andrea Provana submersible, you can discover torpedo launchers, mines, a butoscopic bell and a wire-guided submarine. The museum on the ground floor displays other naval memorabilia, such as maritime telephone, commemorative dishes, and navy uniforms.
The exhibits are particularly curious for those not familiar with naval history. There are plenty of emblems of Italian navy ships. Then, there were endless models of ships, submersibles, and submarines, including the one commanded by Mr Nazario, the retired ANMI member who acted as our guide.
The museum memorabilia includes a vintage diving suit with cumbersome boots, sailor hats, and various communication systems. It’s impressive how radars and telephones in the last century were bulkier and more massive than today.
How to visit the submersible and the ANMI Museum
ANMI Association is in the heart of Valentino Park, easily reachable by underground, stopping at Nizza, or by bus and tramway. Use Google Maps to find the most convenient itinerary for you.
You can visit the submersible and the maritime museum for free. You need an ANMI member to guide you through this fantastic memorabilia. For this reason, you need to contact the association at least one day in advance.
ANMI Associazione Nazionale Marinai d’Italia
Viale Marinai d’Italia, 1
Phone number: 011 6963245
Where to sleep in Turin
In Turin you can sleep either in elegant hotels located in historical buildings or in modern flats with all comforts, the choice depends only on your taste. Since I live in Turin I can recommend the best hotels, which are the Best Western Plus Executive Hotel and Suites and the luxurious Hotel Principi di Piemonte, both in the city centre. If you are looking for a cheaper option, in modern hostels that also have private rooms, then Combo or CX Belfiore are for you, both located in vibrant neighbourhoods full of restaurants and nightlife.
Comment on whether you were aware of Turin’s naval history and the presence of a real submersible in Valentino Park.