Porta Palazzo

Turin, IT
CC BY-SA 2.0 Fulvio Spada
A revitalised historic district


Porta Palazzo is a historical and multi-cultural district, home to one of the largest outdoor markets of Europe. In 1996, an EU-funded project commenced improving living and working conditions in the district. A transdisciplinary set of actions was implemented. After the EU project ended in 2000, a newly established local development association took the lead in the regeneration efforts. Today, the project extends across several blocks in all directions of the market and has over 80 projects implemented across different themes that add to the physical, social, economic and cultural improvements in the neighbourhood. It includes several refurbished historical buildings and initiatives such as cultural centres and – more recently – social housing projects.


Outside city centre


Porta Palazzo (The Gate) is a district in the historic centre of Turin. It is not an official administrative district but is perceived as one due to its important social function around the large marketplace, where people from different ethnicities mingle daily. The district takes its name from one of the entrance gates into the city, the old postierla San Michele. Later, the postierla was replaced with a stone gate, and in the 17th century, it became the main northern point of access into the city. Under the rule of King Vittorio Amedeo II, who wished to transform Turin into a modern capital, the gate was refurbished and upgraded, and Porta Palazzo was opened in 1701. Under Napoleon’s rule, the original gate was pulled down, and the remaining square went to several phases of development. The large open-air markets that are still there today settled there in 1835. [2;3]

Nowadays, the market still functions with a partly covered and partly open-air area and is one of the largest daily operating markets of Europe. The stalls reflect the multicultural character of the neighbourhood, which has always been the first landing point for both national and international immigrants in the city. The wide diversity of ethnicities has shaped the social and cultural fabric of the area. However, lack of investment in the area throughout the years causes an accumulation of social and economic problems in a once lively neighbourhood. To reverse the trend of decline and deterioration, the district became part of a broader development agenda of the city of Turin. [1;2]

Renovation of the district started in 1997 through a URBAN Pilot Programme of the European Regional Development Fund project called ‘ The Gate: living not leaving’, which aimed to improve both living and working conditions in the multi-cultural district. Regeneration activities were designed around social, economic, cultural and environmental themes, encompassing a wide array of actions. Focal points of these actions are increased participation and empowerment of citizens, enhancing a sense of place and community identity, and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. [1;3]

Physical degradation was battled by renovating historical structures and offering home improvement grants to homeowners. Improvements to the public realm have been implemented, including improvements to traffic and pedestrian flow, the electricity and water mains, and local sanitation. [2;3] Economic regeneration was stimulated, among others, through setting up support structures and incubators for business activities, improving network facilities for entrepreneurs and introducing training programmes for youth and ethnic minorities. [1;3] guided tours and audio tours for tourists have been established. [1] Social and cultural intervention represents another axis of activity. A collaboration between the municipality and the Artisan Restorers School was formed, which provided a great impulse to the local arts and craft industry. Moreover, several previously derelict spaces are now utilised for cultural and social activities, including cultural centres, performance spaces and youth activities, run by various social organisations, community groups and (intercultural) associations. [1;3] Furthermore, there are six social housing projects active in the area, which aim to experiment with new co-living arrangements and supportive, cooperative living concepts for different target groups, including, for example, self-sufficient elderly accommodation and temporary living accommodation. [1] The wide range of projects that cover trans-disciplinary themes adds to physical, social, economic and cultural improvements in the neighbourhood. [3]


Heritage utilized
Building(s) and/or monumental structures
Cultural and Creative Industries; New lifestyles; Resilient and Human Connected places
Creative industries; Education; Housing; Social inclusion; Public space; Tourism


To implement the project ‘The Gate: living not leaving’ under the URBAN Pilot Programme, the Porto Palazzo Project Committee, a non-profit body bringing together 11 members from public, private and non-governmental organisations, was established in 1998. The committee took a leading role in creating an overall vision for the neighbourhood to continue regeneration. When the EU project finished in 2000, a local development agency was established to continue regeneration efforts. [3;4]

Nowadays, the project extends across several blocks in all directions from the central market, and over 80 projects are implemented. Many of these through collaborative public-private partnerships made up out of changing constellations of civil society organisations, small businesses and the municipality. [1;3;4]


Governance arrangement
Hybrid governance
Organisational form
Non-Profit Entity
Stakeholders involved in implementation
Local government; Non-government organisation / non-profit organisations; Public sector institutions; Private sector business; Citizens or Community groups; Private Foundations

Business Model

Between 1997 and 2000, regeneration activities under the ‘The Gate: living not leaving’ project were funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). ERDF provided €2.582.000, the City of Turin €3.582.000 and the Italian Ministry for Public Works €1.032.913, leading to a total budget of €7.196.913. It should be noted that drawing on funding from the ERDF was enabled by the fact that the district’s regeneration was part of the broader urban development agenda of the City of Turin. [3]

The newly established Local Development Agency, which has been coordinating regeneration activities since 2002, has received funding from the municipality and Turin-based foundations. The total extent of additional public and private investments in the area is unknown. [3]


Initial investment
€7.196.913 for initial ERDF project
Type of financial resources utilized
Direct funding or subsidies; Earmarked public budget; Private Investments
Source of financial resources
EU funds; Public local authority's budget; Corporate investment
Non-financial contributions


  1. Porta Palazzo, initiative website, scopriportapalazzo.com, accessed on 27/01/2022

  2. Città di Torino (2006), Porta Palazzo History and future of the heart of Torino (brochure), available at www.comune.torino.it/portapalazzo/bm~doc/pp-history-and-future.pdf, accessed on 27/01/2022

  3. Colantonio, A., & Dixon, T(2010)The Regeneration of Turin and Porta PalazzoUrban Regeneration & Social Sustainability: Best Practice from European Cities, edsBrown, Henneberry, Chau and Worzala, pp143-167.

  4. Città di Torino (n.d.), municipal website on Porta Palazzo, www.comune.torino.it/portapalazzo/progetto/, accessed on 27/01/2022