Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Travel & Holidays in later life


The Shroud of Christ Exhibition

The last exhibition of the Turin Shroud was in the year 2000 and it was not scheduled to be exhibited again until 2025, the next Holy Year of the Catholic Church. But at the request of the Archbishop of Turin it is on display now for a few short weeks until May 22nd.

Exhibitions of this unique and controversial relic are so rare that this could be, literally, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hugh Taylor and Moira McCrossan headed to Turin to have a look.

At the rather ungodly time of 8.15am we were on a train pulling out of Milano Centrale Stazione on a day trip to Turin. We had originally intended to go a week earlier but while researching Turin's attractions, we came across a report that turned our plans upside down. The fabled Turin Shroud was going on public display from April 10th. A few more mouse clicks and we had discovered how to get tickets, picked a time slot and received the tickets by email. We were amazed that they were still available and even more amazed to find that they were free.


Turin Shroud on display


This fascinating length of cloth has been the subject of more scientific investigation than any other artefact. Its documented history goes back to the 16th century; and there are disputed records of a similar shroud in the 14th century; but it has been in the Duomo at Turin since 1578. Faintly visible on the four and half metre length of linen is the whole

body image, front and back of a man. On closer examination, there appear to be blood spots consistent with a crown of thorns, lashing with a whip, a wound in the side and nails through feet and wrists. To the faithful it is undoubtedly the shroud in which Christ was wrapped, to sceptics a clever mediaeval hoax. So clever, in fact, that Leonardo Da Vinci has been named as the genius responsible. Carbon dating showed it to be mediaeval, but it was repaired several times, so that is inconclusive. Plant remains identified on the shroud suggest Jerusalem in the spring but that is also disputed. Whether on a pilgrimage of faith or simply from historical interest, vast numbers are flocking to the capital of Piemonte to see the Shroud.


Travel Facts


Travel Insurance for over 50s

Visit our  holidays, breaks and travel options pages



Online Booking for the Shroud of Turin Exhibition


The Shroud of Turin Exhibition 2010 Official Web Site

Ryanair offer cheap flights to Europe including Turin and Milan which has a speedy rail link to Turin.


Turin Shroud on display in the CathedralThe organisation to enable over four hundred people every hour to see the Shroud is akin to a military operation. When we arrived at the reception point in the Giardini Real behind the Cathedral, we were waved on to join the queue, although we were earlier than our appointed time. It was hot but a temporary bar was purveying drinks, snacks and ice creams. The queue snaked slowly through several checkpoints but the good natured crowd, some singing and the pleasant garden sustained us until eventually we reached turnstiles controlled by traffic lights. After a fifteen minute wait at the lights, we passed by the remains of Turin's Roman Theatre and finally entered the Cathedral to find more twists and turns before we were ushered into a small room with a long, narrow screen. An excellent audiovisual explained the shroud, zooming in to the various parts with blood traces.


Face on Turin ShroudIt also explained the astonishing image, first captured by Secondo Pia, who photographed the shroud in 1898. When he developed the picture, he realized that the negative was much clearer than the visible image on the shroud. It has since been enhanced and created in 3D but nothing could compare with the sensation that that first negative must have caused. Many attempts have been made over the years to recreate that negative image on the shroud, but none have succeeded completely.


The closest so far was Luigi Garlaschelli, professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia, who, in 2009, made a facsimile by covering a volunteer with a linen sheet and then rubbing it with an acidic pigment. He used only techniques and materials available in mediaeval times and added blood stains to match the shroud. The result was very close, but of course the dispute continues, as crucial differences are pointed out and argued over.


After the audiovisual, our long wait was almost over. Directed into three channels, we went with the middle. Had we realised we would have stayed left and got a bit closer to the Shroud, but we got close enough. The time we got to gaze on it was the length of a pre-recorded prayer in Italian. Everyone was presented with a copy of it on the back of a postcard of Pia’s image of the Shroud. We finally left the Cathedral ninety minutes after our arrival. Was it worth all the standing for a few minutes of viewing? Of course it was.

Whether you believe that this piece of ancient cloth contains the image of Jesus Christ or is a very clever mediaeval fake, constructed by Leonardo Da Vinci or some other genius, it is without a doubt one of the world's great treasures. Add to that the fact that it is so rarely put on display and this opportunity was one we would not have considered missing.

But we would have liked to have gotten closer and been able the see the weave of the cloth and study the image in greater detail. We suspect that very few people ever get that chance. However we would also have liked a long, cool beer. And we could do something about that. In a small cafe close to the Cathedral we found what we were looking for.

Tickets are still available go to the website, see what's available and book. It will still be possible to alter this booking later. Then go online and find a cheap flight to Turin or Milan. You'll probably need to make this a two night, three day trip depending on flight times. But this will also give you a couple of days to explore the other attractions of Turin, Milan or the historic city of Bergamo.

Having tickets and flights all that remains is to book a couple of nights accommodation then pack for that once in a lifetime opportunity.


For other viewpoints of Italy, read these articles:


ITALY CUISINE - Finding your way around the menu

TRENTINO - on sunny side of the Alps

TUSCANY - Tasting the flavour

VENICE - City without wheels


Back to


Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site

back to laterlife travel

Site map and site search



Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti