The National Museum of Cinema is housed in this architectural beauty.

La Mole Antonelliana, called “La Mole” for short, constructed from 1863 to 1889, was conceived as a Jewish synagogue. Delays and cost overruns led the Jewish community to transfer ownership to the city of Torino. It served different functions until it became The National Museum of Cinema in 2000.

A Netflix series prompted my interest.

We loved “Guida astrologica per cuori infranti” (An Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts, available with English subtitles). It’s a two-season, light-hearted comedy-romance. The show is set in Torino and La Mole plays an important role in several key scenes. When I saw the structure and the museum contained within, I resolved to visit it in person.


A soaring elevator trip.

When we booked our tickets, we also booked the elevator ride to the observatory deck that offers breathtaking panoramic views of Torino. Elevator tickets sell out even more quickly than a general entrance to the museum. We were so glad we booked them, and even though the queue for ticket holders meant a half-hour wait, the ascent was more than worth it.

In the short video below, you can see this elevator making its upward journey. Had I known that the biggest chunk of the trip, the part through the giant dome, was only on a series of cables, I might have had second thoughts.

A comprehensive presentation of the history and development of movie-making.

Multiple levels of exhibitions guide you through the early, inventive devices using visual trickery to mimic a sense of motion and provide entertainment. La Mole gives ample attention to this important foundation that became the springboard for still photography and film to take off.

Even though I’ve studied photography for years, I’ve neglected to pay closer attention to these earlier devices of visual ingenuity. I was grateful to be informed and grounded as part of my journey through The National Museum of Cinema.

Enjoying the giant cinema “salon.”

As you make your way through La Mole, you’re “guided” in a chronological line of cinematic history. You’ll have to speed-walk if you want to bypass the parts mentioned above. Midway through, you’re delivered to the large cinema room with two movie screens and a large group of red recliners that invite you to sit back and view cinematic history. You’ll see looping presentations of films that include early silent features and take you to Italian classic moving pictures. We kicked back for a good forty-five minutes, absorbing it all.

A virtual reality experience

In a corner of this great room is a bright, modern facade that leads willing participants into a virtual reality experience. While I found it interesting, for me it wasn’t worth the thirty-minute queue to get in and strap on the cumbersome headset.

All aspects of the movies, including technology and marketing

Vignettes present background for make-up, special effects, directing, etc. And the home stretch in the tour of La Mole takes you through a large gallery of marketing materials. This includes classics glamour photography and an extensive array of movie posters.

Give yourself at least three hours to tour The National Cinema Museum

There’s that much to see and absorb. And if you’re a movie aficionado, you won’t want to miss anything.

La Mole exceeded all of our expectations though I regretted not being able to see the Vespa that Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck rode in Roman Holiday. I think that area was cordoned off for renovations.


Book well in advance!

Especially if you’re coming to Torino in late spring and summer. We were there in mid-March and by the time we arrived for our time slot in the morning, tickets were sold out. So, consider yourself forewarned.

More on Torino coming soon!