History of Torino: Grande Torino

One of the very first things I learned about life in Turin is that soccer or.. football is life. If you are into the game you then you are generally asked if you are Juve or Toro. Meaning, do you root for Juventus or Torino FC. Like any sport, there is a rivalry and it’s always fun to listening to people discuss if what team is REALLY representative of Turin. However, there is one day a year when colors (of your team) don’t matter and respect is paid.

Basilica di Superga

That day is May 4th.

Back in 1949, Grande Torino was flying back from Portugal after a friendly match with Benifica, the Lisbon team. With a quick layover in Barcelona the plane took off again at 14.50 heading home to Turin. Their flight plan was to fly over Southern France, and Liguria to then turn north once they reached Savona. At about 16.55, the airport began communications with the pilot. Weather conditioners were getting bad in Turin. Fog, low laying clouds that were almost at ground level, rain and strong wind gusts made it dangerous. After a few minutes of silence the pilot answered back saying that they were nearing Pino Torinese and would cut across Superga. Just north of Pino, on hill sits the Basilica di Superga. There are a lot of theories of what went wrong but one thing is certain, weather made it impossible for the pilot to realize who close they were really to the church until it was too late.

At 17.05 traffic control called for their position and received no answer. 31 souls were lost.

The retainer wall behind the Basilica of Superga where the plane crashed.

Aboard the flight was the entire team, coaches and several journalists that had been traveling with them. On May 6, 1949 a funeral was held at the Duomo di San Giovani and more than 600,000 people were in attendance to pay their respect.

photo taken in 2009

Since then fans gather at the Basilica to pay their respects and the Mole Antonelliana lights up in the colors of Torino.

Grande Torino 1949 (players and coaching staff)
photo from: tuttosport.com

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