Peace-Lab Museum

Theory and practice of nonviolence can be learned, practiced and spread.

The Peace Lab-Museum, the first one in Italy, was established on September 20th 2008, closely following an international congress on the international peace museum network, and stemming from a local conscientious objector to military spending who had already had a congress arranged back in 1985 on nonviolent popular defense and local territorial authorities.

The buildings around belonged to the district mental hospital compound up to about 1973, when the Torino District signed it off (within the frame of a nationwide dismantling of lunatic asylums). These premises were thereafter appointed with time to other uses; among them, a Resistance Museum is now housed here, hosting as well the Peace Lab-Museum.

Its references have been drawn from a teaching by Johan Galtung, peace scholar awarded with a number of acknowledgments incl. the Right Livelihood Award (alternative Peace Nobel Prize) in 1987, and founder of Transcend international in 1993. In his address to the UN General Assembly on the 2007 International Nonviolence Day – Oct. 2nd, Gandhi’s birthday – he listed following five lessons he drew from Gandhi’s successful nonviolent liberation struggle against British colonialism:

1. Never shy away from dialogue

2. Never be afraid of conflict: it is an opportunity rather than a danger

3. Learn history lest you are bound to repeat it

4. Figure out a future (make it visible) lest you never reach it

5. While you fight occupation, tidy up your home as well!

The museum pathway is articulated in the following 5 spaces:

1) (VIDEO) where some film clippings about violence and nonviolent struggles are shown;

2) (LISTENING) where the emotions raised by that footage can be floated;

3) (CONTENTS) where Galtung’s 5 items are presented through a few objects;

4) (LAB) where the opportunity of working out the 5 items is offered, by taking them into one’s personal experience and mulling them over with some peace researchers who have expressed insights about them

5) (INFORMATION) where assistance to go on is given, by offering references of already active fellow bodies within reach, as well as a bibliography and website listing in order to make contacts and further explore the presented issues.

Visits on appointment
Phone (+39) 011.41458769
Mail basco(at)
Public transport
Bus 33-37 Tampellini stop

“E” (“AND”) Factory

This has been the headquarter of Gruppo Abele (Abel Group) since 2002, whose activity enhances fellowship spirit, friendly welcoming & sheltering, solidarity and nonviolence.

“I’m happy to spend my lifetime in merging earth and heaven”
– Rev. L. Ciotti

The ‘Factory’ was an industrial shed housing the CIMAT firm (Italian Machines & Tools Construction-Torino), belonging to the FIAT supplier pool, up to the mid-’70s. The building’s current layout and setting is reminiscent of its former function, in its inner framing, its wide rooms, its refurbished bright-painted bridge-cranes, its conference rooms named ‘workshops’.

The ‘And’ part of its name hints at the will in here to change the so many – too many – ‘Or’, cramming everyday life with divisions, labels, exclusion processes, over into ‘And’, capable of fostering meeting, exchange, routes of commitment, solidarity, justice.

Youths and grown-ups, social engagement and leisure time, memory and future, ease and unease, local and world-wide orientation, lay stand and spirituality, are some of the ‘and’ meant to be strived for within this experience.

Gruppo Abele is a society established in Torino in 1965 as a reshaping of Rev. Luigi Ciotti’s Gioventù Impegnata (Committed Youth) group. Ciotti became priest in 1972 and was bestowed ‘the street’ as a parish, his commitment having been from the start the attempt to merge a friendly welcoming of the weak with culture and politics.

Gruppo Abele was among the earliest covenanters with the Ministry of Defense for the substitute social commitment of young conscientious objectors to military service. It midwifed the establishment of CNCA (National Co-ordination of Shelter Communities) in 1982, and it had a role in establishing LILA (Italian AIDS-Contrast League).

Gruppo Abele under Rev. Ciotti’s lead also established its own publishing house (Edizioni Gruppo Abele) in 1983 and supplemented it with its monthly ‘Narcomafie’ magazine starting 1992. And, prominently, it set up Libera, societies, names and numbers against mafias, in 1995, a network rallying over 1.500 Italian and foreign partakers.

The Group’s activities range over Sheltering, Culture, International Cooperation, Work and some by-projects linked with its social aims.

Over quite a few years, the Group has set up shelter communities for addicts, listening and advising spots, relief-aid projects for slave and migrants trade victims and one conflict mediation counter.

Additional information
Public transport
Tram 15 Trapani stop
Bus 33-42-64-68 Trapani stop
Bus 2 Peschiera stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
20 minutes by bus 33 Collegno direction

UN Campus

Torino is a strategic UN seat; the international campus, set up in 1964 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with the Italian government, houses ITCILO, UNICRI, UNSSC, and a thematic library.

” … it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”
– UNESCO Chart

The ITCILO – ILO International Training Center – is the professional specialization institute of ILO, the UN agency committed to fostering social justice, human rights, and international labour standards, in order to ensure dignified jobs.

The center’s buildings are laid out in five groups representing the five continents: America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

The UNICRI – UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute – is the UN institute set up in 1968, put in charge of research, training, technical cooperation, and information dissemination about crime prevention and justice. Among the goals it pursues, there are the strengthening of institutions and the building of justice systems in tune with the international standards, the adoption of effective crime prevention and contrast policies, and the promotion of a human rights culture.

The UNSSC – UN System Staff College – was inaugurated on Jan. 1st 2002 by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a self-standing organization meant to back the UN inside reform process started in the 1990s.

This college specifically focuses on economic and social development programs, on peace and security, and on the system’s inner management.

The UN aims also at focusing the world community’s attention on issues of special concern and encouraging the international action on matters of global relevance. Proclaiming International years and decades pursues such a goal. The 2001-2010 Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence, took in an appeal by Nobel Prize Laureates and specifically showed the need to operate for a trend turnabout through an active collaboration to building a Culture of Peace.

Such a kind of action features a political character as well as a moral force, which, along with the good faith principle and the collaboration obligation included in the UN Chart, amplify its importance. As to Italy, an Italian Committee for a culture of peace and nonviolence (Comitato Italiano per una cultura di pace e nonviolenza) has since been set up, and has i.e. contributed to drawing up and editing the ‘Guidelines on peace education’ published in 2007 by the then Public Education minister.

Additional information
Public transport
Bus 34-74 Ventimiglia stop
Bus 45-45 Palavela stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
35 minutes by public transport: bus 45 and then bus 2


The Lingotto (28.700 sq. 500 m. long and 5 storeys high) was built up as comprehensive FIAT factory, largest car-maker in Italy, established on July 11th 1899. It was also a significant place of civil resistance against the Nazi occupation.

“Civil resistance, a spontaneous process by a civil society through unarmed means”
– Jacques Semelin

Engineer Matté Trucco built between 1916 and 1922 this futurist concrete structure hinging on a pillar meshwork, with helical ramps at both ends leading to a roof test track added in 1925 by Le Corbusier, who mentioned the Lingotto as ‘one of the most impressive shows that industry has ever staged’. It has an important record: it introduced into Italy, through its massive elongated structure, Taylor’s work distribution method based on the assembly chain.

During WW2, the factory workers came up with an array of important civil resistance actions, such as the strikes, at their climax in March 1943 with over 100.000 workers, even prior to the German occupation, which marked the fading consent to the regime; then again in March 1944 and finally on April 18th 1945, the huge pre-insurrectionary walkout.

The New York Times wrote on March 9th 1944: ‘as to mass demonstrations, nothing of sort has ever happened in Nazi-occupied Europe that can be likened to the uprising of Italian and Torino workers’.

The involved plants included: Mirafiori, Lingotto, FIAT Materiale Ferroviario, Grandi Motori, Viberti, Lancia, Riv, Ceat, Cimat, Venchi Unica, Manifattura Tabacchi, Microtecnica. Among so many exemplary cases, at least FIAT Materiale Ferroviario – known as Materferro in Torino – is worth mentioning; a portion of its facade on Corso Rosselli is kept standing to testify to the previous important factory, written off in 1975; a contemporary art monument by Enzo Biffi Gentili, bearing the March 1943 strike dates and the inscription ‘STRIKE!’ was inaugurated there on Jan. 27th 2006 – Memorial Day – in memory of those workers’ heroic deed.

Lingotto’s build-over was designed by architect Renzo Piano (1983-2002); nowadays it is a multi-purpose center including the Giovanni Agnelli Auditorium (1994), the Agnelli Picture Gallery (2002), the compound for fairs (i.e. the Salone del Libro – Book Exhibition) and congresses, the 8Gallery mall, the Pathè Lingotto multi-room cinema, and two hotels. Also worth remarking are the so-called Bolla (Bubble) and the pedestrian gangway’s Olympic Arch (2006).

Additional information
Public transport
Metro 1 Lingotto stop
Bus 1-18-35 Lingotto stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
15 minutes along Via Nizza and Via Sommariva - it is possible to get there by bus as well

Former Jail

Torino’s house of detention, better known as ‘Le Nuove’, built by architect Giuseppe Polani in 1862-70, was also a place of resistance, non-collaboration, and solidarity.

“To me they are but people, souls have no colour”
– Father Ruggero Cipolla

The building is a double-cross pattern, a layout kept to date notwithstanding several on-going restructuring steps.

Among its host of inmates were WW1 deserters, FIAT workers arrested during the ‘red biennium’, opposers to the Fascist regime, partisans, deported convicts, Jews, and, after the Liberation, members of the just crumbled regime; in later decades, quite a gamut of deviants and trespassers like mafiosi, terrorists and tangentopolisti (bribe addicts).

After Sept. 8th 1943 (Italy’s sudden alliance overturning), the only way out of jail hardship was a deportation to the Nazi Lagers, a hard labour in Germany, the end step of a death sentence, a sudden drawing for a retaliation shooting.

As of March 30th 1944, the members of the first regional Liberation Committee were convicted in there, till their shooting at Martinetto on April 5th.

The first jail wing was run by the German occupiers themselves; on April 7th 1944, Emanuele Artom, a young Jewish partisan and political commissioner of the 5th Justice & Freedom division, died there.

Utterly helpful were Father Ruggero Cipolla, prison chaplain from Nov. 15th 1944 to Sept. 1st 1994, and Mother Superior Giuseppina De Muro, who went any length in trying to secure the inmates’ safety and who played an active role in negotiating the prisoners’ release.

Since the 1960s the jail was a compulsory place of call for a number of local activists struggling for peace and the acknowledgement of the right to military service conscientious objection.

In the 1980s the jail was replaced by the new ‘Lorusso Cotugno’ district prison, built up in the Vallette area.

Since 2001, the ‘Nessun uomo è un sola’ (‘Nobody is an island’) association has got the recovery of part of the Le Nuove compound underway, building it over into an emblematic memorial museum, in the wake of Father Ruggero’s similar staging effort started as early as 1976.

The historical museum pathway suggests the discovery of hidden places where ordinary men suffered for the assertion of a free and democratic Italy: a civil legacy of mankind not to be forgotten.

Morever an air-raid shelter casually dug out on June 19th 2010, can be visited.

Opening hours
Guided Tours
Mon-Sat 3pm Sun 3pm and 5pm
2nd and 4th Sun 9am, 3pm and 5pm
Additional information
Public transport
Metro 1 Porta Susa stop
Tram 9 Palagiustizia stop
Bus 16-55-56-68 Palagiustizia stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
12 minutes by metro - 9 stops Lingotto direction

Spread Museum

The Museo diffuso della resistenza, della deportazione, della guerra, dei diritti e della libertà (Spread Museum of Resistance, Deportation, War, Rights and Freedom), tries out original exhibitive languages and multi-medial communication forms.

“Peace entails being able to look back to the past and learn its lessons.”

Architect Filippo Juvarra designed and oversaw the implementation of the Military Quarters between 1716 and 1728. These were two symmetric buildings used as garrison barracks for the capital city of Vittorio Amedeo II new kingdom, and they shaped the city’s new western gate, Porta Susina.

In 1768, the Quarters were added new stores and became with time the seat of judiciary and municipal offices.

The City of Torino decided by a 1995 resolution to appoint one of the two buildings – the Municipal building at nr. 13, (on the corner of Via del Carmine with Corso Valdocco) – to new seat of the Piedmont Institute for the History of Resistance and Present-Day Society (ISTORETO) and Cinema Archive of Resistance (ANCR). The related restoration of the Juvarra building gave rise to an important opportunity, i.e. locating in the same place both the research and conservation institute and the exhibition premises of the Spread Museum, a project stemmed from the will of devolving a permanent comprehensive educational museum path through the WW2 issues and crimes against humanity in the city’s very memorial spots.

Thus, the former Military Quarters building now houses two research institutes, uniquely rich specialized records Europe-wide, and the Museum which features the following:

• a documentation center and related activity spot about the 20th century history and human rights, tightly bound with the city and district memorial areas;

• a permanent setting leading visitors along a virtual journey through the 1938-48 decade, including a descent into the building’s 12-meter deep underground air-raid shelter;

• transient exhibitions on the 2nd floor; a conference room for cinema performances, seminars, congresses and shows;

• information material on the Museum’s activities, exhibition catalogs, essays and fiction in the ground floor reception hall.

Opening hours
Mon-Wed-Fri-Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
Thu 2pm-10pm
Additional information
Public transport
Metro 1 XVIII Dicembre stop
Bus 5-52-67 Arbarello stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
5 minutes walking to Piazza XVIII Dicembre and 1 metro stop Lingotto direction

Peace arsenal

A military arsenal built over since 1983 into a Peace Arsenal by SerMiG (Youth Missionary Service), founded by Ernesto Olivero in 1964: an example of peace, hospitability and solidarity.

The military works in Borgo Dora, dating back to the 16th century, underwent a number of changes and enlargements in the course of time, thus coming to occupy a very wide area.

On April 25th 1945, during the last climax deed of the Liberation fight, the building was occupied by its workers and by partisan squads who kept the Mosca bridge, a crucial passageway, within range of two machine-guns placed on the factory roof.

In the war aftermath, the plant resumed work at an ever shrinking rate until it came to a complete stop. Following negotiations with the Ministry of Defense, its buildings were signed over to the Torino municipality, which in turn assigned them to Sermig – Hope Brotherhood, which settled down there and, through voluntary work by youths and grown-ups alike and public and private donations, began building it over into a Peace Arsenal: a meeting place and a shelter for youths and people needing aid at large.

After going through several interventions, the Arsenal features several buildings spaced out by green areas in between; among them shows up the Dialogue University in the Ovens Pavilion, facing the Peoples’ Square, a place for contemplation and prayer also staging several cultural events of the city. The former test shop has become a guesthouse. The former Saddleries are now a restoration school-shop, a kindergarten and lodgings. The compound offers night lodging to homeless people and a surgery for foreigners having no health card.

The Arsenal overlooks Borgo Dora Square staging the traditional Balôn, a second-hand market, on Saturday mornings, a byplace of the Porta Palazzo (Palace Gate) daily market in nearby Piazza della Repubblica, the largest outdoor marketplace in Europe. Unstably poised between ticklish closenesses and a pied medley of cultures, having grown into the city’s main multi-ethnical melting-pot, Porta Palazzo boasts a really special charm. A multi-color lit-up display by artist M. Pistoletto on the clock market hall shows in several languages its message ‘Loving differences’, as a part of the standing works within the annual contemporary art event Luci d’Artista (Artists’ lights).

Additional information
Public transport
Tram 4 Dora Savona stop
Bus 11-50-51-57 Dora Savona stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
15 minutes along Via Borgo Dora, Corso Regina Margherita e Corso Valdocco - it is possible to get there by bus as well

Red vault house

Its name stems from a passageway opened to Piazza delle Erbe (Herbs Square).
Here St. Giuseppe Cottolengo founded what came to be the Little House of Divine Providence (Piccola Casa della Divina Provvidenza), better known as the Cottolengo. Today it is an apartment block.

“When we recognise in other people brothers of ours, we reject violence. Peace entails also caretaking and solidarity.”

Giuseppe Cottolengo, born in Bra in 1786, had been parisher in the Corpus Domini church, standing opposite to the house, since 1822; in 1828, struck by the shabby health facilities and the huge numbers of poor people needing treatments, rented two rooms in the red vault house and begins sheltering anybody in need of cures, with a few volunteers’ assistance at first – and a clear mission: welcome and take care of anybody poor, ailing, forlorn, particularly needy, without any distinction, ‘because Christ’s face can be made out in each of them’.

The place soon became too crammed; Cottolengo did not lose heart and, relying on the goodness of Providence, bought a few premises in the Valdocco area and set up there the Little House of Divine Providence. Those very premises have grown to nowadays’ relief and welfare stronghold, where not only high-quality healthcare is offered, but also assistance to handicapped or cast-out elderly people, to teen-agers in distress, to addicts, to homeless beggars; in over 100 houses scattered in Italy and abroad.

In the Torino mother house alone there are some 400 guests, some 600 religious people – both active and elderly ones at rest – live in there; over 1.200 volunteers from the Cottolengo volunteers association join in, taking care of altogether some 2.000 people.

During the industrialization set-out in Torino and all of Piedmont in the first half of the 19th century, a massive flow of people from the countryside took place. Public institutions were weak and insufficient, and the proletariat exploitation was rampant, which set off a strong uneasiness. In this very context rose in Piedmont several characters, defined ‘Torino’s social saints’; these were people with a strong Christian belief, working hard for the needier, without setting about tackling political problems or social theories, but just seeing the love-worthy figure of Christ in the increasing poor and wretched. Besides Cottolengo, let us mention: Giuseppe Cafasso, a prison chaplain; Rev. Giovanni Bosco, founder of the Salesian religious order, and particularly active in recovering street urchins and helping them choose a trade; Leonardo Murialdo, founder of the Artigianelli society; among lay people, Giulia di Barolo and Faà di Bruno.

Additional information
Public transport
Tram 4 Garibaldi/Corte d’Appello stop
Tram 13-15 Castello stop
Bus 11-57-27 Garibaldi/Corte d’Appello stop
Bus 56-55 Castello stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
13 minutes along Via Milano and Via Borgo Dora

Sereno Regis Study Center

The Study Center (CSSR) was established on Movimento Internazionale della Riconciliazione’s (MIR) and Movimento Nonviolento’s (MN) initiative in 1982. It is also the headquarter of MIR country-wide and the meeting place for the regional MIR-MN group.

“Be yourself the change that you want to see in the world”
– Gandhi

The CSSR is an Onlus-body fostering research programs, education and direct action in the field of political participation, nonviolent popular defense, peace & interculture education, nonviolent conflict transformation, development models, renewable power sources, sustainable territorial planning, organic architecture and environmentalism at large.

Domenico Sereno Regis (1921-84), after whose passing over the CSSR is named, was one of its founders and also the founder of GIOC (Christian Working Youth), as well as MIR president and leading spirit of the city’s spontaneous grassroot neighbourhood committees back in the 1970s.

The CSSR houses several other organizations as well (Idearom, Assefa, Esperanto, etc.) and features an important articulation:
– a multimedial library boasting over twenty thousand books, documents, magazines and audiovisuals;
– Pasquale Cavaliere Eco-institute, founded along with Piedmont’s Legambiente, ProNatura and WWF, acting in collaboration with university institutes and other research centers;
– Marilena Cardone Peace Education Group acting in various contexts (school, family, informal grouping) to spread nonviolent and conflict transformation culture.

MIR’s mother body IFOR (International Fellowship of Reconciliation) stemmed in 1914 from the rejection of war by a few Christians of different denominations; its Italian branch was set up in 1952 and it engaged straight away in the legal acknowledgement of conscientious objection to military service. It currently arranges campaigns and actions for peace and nonviolent conflict transformation, against war and for a more just and reconciled society.

Additional information
Public transport
Tram 4 Garibaldi stop
Tram 13-15 Bertola stop
Bus 11-27-51-57 Garibaldi stop
Bus 56-72 Bertola stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
1 minute along Via dei Mercanti

Piazzo Castello

City’s historical and political hub, some 40.000 sq. wide, it was designed in 1584 by A. Vitozzi, and later redesigned in some items by A. di Castellamonte and F. Juvarra. Valuable buildings incl. the Royal Palace – king’s residence up to 1865, face it.

In its middle stands Madama Palace (1645-46), defined ‘a stone abridgment of all of Torino’s past’, which encloses what used to be the Roman Praetoria Gate, Ludovico d’Acaja’s 15th century castle – hence the Square name – and its Juvarra’s overbuilding; it was the seat of the Subalpine Senate and is now the Ancient Arts City Museum.

The Piedmont Region’s Palace and San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence) baroque church face the square on its western side.

On its eastern side Juvarra’s Court Archives Palace –now Historical Museum of State Archives- stands together with the Royal Theater, witness to the Olympic Truce Appeal signing ceremony prior to the Torino 2006 Winter Games.

On the square’s northern side the Armoury and the Royal Library stand, as well as the 18th century Secretariats Palace, Savoy kings’ throbbing political heart, and nowadays Prefecture head office; a memorial slab for the people deported to the WW2 extermination camps can be seen under this side’s arcades.

Another slab in the paving opposite Via Garibaldi reminds of the spot where a Waldensian pastor was executed to death by burning in 1558. The nearby Waldensian valley communities currently light up joy bonfires on Feb. 16th evenings in memory of king Carlo Alberto’s Feb. 17th 1848 ‘Patent Letters’, by which civil rights were granted to the Waldensian minority – and a few days later to the Jewish community too – for the first time ever in Piedmont, besides ruling the board of censors’ authority scope – a significant turn in the press operability. Such bonfires, ‘freedom fires’, are a symbol of joyful brotherhood and communication across peoples’ cultures and faiths.

This central square, with its many institutional and war memorial objects, has always been a meeting and showing place for civil society activists: whether No-war, No-nuclear, No-TAV (high speed railways) or pro-conscientious objection and pro-public waterworks protesters.

A standing Silence Hour for peace, Constitution art. 11 honoring, and a cut of Military spending, is often kept here on via Garibaldi corner on Wednesday evening, simultaneously to other cities.

Such significant protests have sometimes spread also to nearby Palazzo di Città (Town Hall) Square, at the end of namesake street, as early as, for instance, the August 1917 Women against war rally.

Additional information,,,,
Public transport
Tram 4 Garibaldi stop
Bus 13-15 Castello stop
Bus 55-56 Castello stop
Bus 11-27-51-57 Garibaldi stop
Proposed route to the next peace trail station
5 minutes along Via Garibaldi