Behind Porta Palazzo, the biggest open air market on Repubblica square, lies the Balon, Turin’s famous flea market in the Aurora district: for a couple of years now a hot air balloon rises 150 meters high every day, giving its passengers a breathtaking view over the city of the Savoy. The attraction was inaugurated in 2012, as a tribute to one of the possible etymologies of the market’s name, according to which ‘balon’ refers to an air balloon that took off from this neighborhood in the 18th century.
Although there is no historical evidence of that episode, the balloon has now become a symbol of this open-air emporium, the largest in Europe, which has been bustling with activity since the mid-19th century. To this day, every Saturday morning the Balon attracts a crowd of browsers, collectors, and strollers who walk around the most diverse objects. Early birds get the best deals, while most people (me included) mainly come to enjoy the nice choreography of the stands and old facades.
The surrounding streets are packed with antique dealers’ shops, which display the best they have to offer every second Sunday of the month for the Gran Balon, making a visit to this noisy and inspiring market even more interesting. Plus, a break sipping some Barbera wine on a terrace is an option in the many piolas which have opened in the area in the last years.
It is a indeed beautiful show even from high above, on the wings of the balloon.