The Forgotten Italian City – Turin

The amazing pizza bomba at eataly

Turin, is 3 hours away from Chalet Cannelle in Chatel, France. We first visited 4 years ago by accident.  We were taking a little trip through the Aosta Valley to look for providors and we weren’t having much luck. So we just kept driving and ended up in a campsite in Turin, high on the hill overlooking the city and about a 20 minute walk to the centre.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we googled Turin and found it was home to the biggest food market in Europe.  How did we not know this!?  Those 2 days were foodie heaven and we now return to Turin every year to stock up on Italian products before the winter season begins.  We have also been in June although I much prefer the Autumn months for the produce offered at that time of year…think porcini mushrooms and of course…truffles.

Turin, or Torino for it’s real name is a gem.  A beautiful Italian city with everything that you expect from one – piazzas, wide boulevards, fountains, cafés, delicatessens, excluding one – tourists.  I can only think that this beautiful city is forgotten about as there are so many cities that you think of visiting first …Rome, Florence, Venice, Siena  and also because it seems to have a reputation of being an ugly industrialised city. It certainly isn’t.

Aperitivo

Our first experience of Aperitivo, the origins of which are claimed by both Turin and Milan and a concept that we just can’t get enough of.  Imagine this, you have been walking round a city for most of the day having a great time and it is 17:30.  You are peckish but it isn’t really dinner time, a nice cold beverage would be most welcome.  You choose a nice looking bar and Aperitivo is offered to you.  A drink of your choice with an empty plate and a huge buffet selection of random morsels. It’s IMMENSE

OK so some places are pretty dodgy but you can just walk in, suss the food and leave for the next joint.  I just love the concept of a pre dinner snack and it’s also incredibly social.

There are lots of traditional style places in the centre and in the Piazzas.  Via Giuseppe Baretti in trendy San Salvario has a number of more trendy /hipster options and we really loved the options at Lanificio San Salvatore (as well as their great wine selection)

nightime turin

Mercato di Porta Palazzo

The Food Market.  There are about 100 farmers stalls here selling mostly Italian produce. The vegetables are seasonal and fresh and it really is an insight to Italian way of life and how they cook as many of the locals are buying just what they need for that day.  If you are in Turin for the weekend, it may be a little frustrating as you are likely to not be cooking and can’t take advantage of all the goodies on offer but the cured meats and cheeses available are easy to take home

Mole Antonelliana

Originally intended as a Synogue but never used as one, this unique building is now home to the Museum of Italian Cinema which probably isn’t that interesting to non-Italian speakers but in the centre is a glass elevator that takes you up through the beautiful Duomo roof to a viewing platform. You can see the alps on a clear day and because most of the city is fairly low, you get great view of the whole city

Eating

For simple, perfect pasta with white truffle it has to be Tartufi.  We have had a splendid meal at Scannabue in San Salvario and on the same strip are a number of options for an impromptu dinner choice

Chocolate

Love chocolate? Go to Turin. The home of Giandjuja, a delicious praline textured chocolate but made with hazelnut instead of almonds like in France. Giandjuja came about due to a shortage of cocoa so some clever chap made his cocoa go further by adding ground hazelnuts from the region (Piedmont).  There are quite a number of chocolate shops and cafes and Guido Gobino comes up frequently as the best and most famous but it wasn’t so special we thought. The place to go is Guido Castagna, it felt like the Chanel of chocolate shops

If you love chocolate spread try something other than Nutella and search out Baratti e Milano’s version. They have a very fancy and old fashioned cafe but actually you can buy it almost half the price at Eataly.

Last on the chocolate agenda is Bicerin. I love a good hot chocolate and this is something else.  There are many places to drink Bicerin but we always go to one, Al Bicerin. A guest who had lived in Turin told us about it and said it was the only place she went to. It is a tiny cafe were nuns used to serve the Bicerin which was considered good for wellness in the 18th century, as all cocoa products were.  The drink also has coffee in it and is said to be made like the original recipe, it is so unique you just have to try it.

Eataly

I am going to use the word Mecca to describe this shop. It is awesome. They are slowly popping up in various locations but this is the original and best. A huge and beautiful shop of Italian goodies of every sort you can imagine.  But that’s not all!  For each section, be it pasta, fish, beer…there is a food counter and bar where you can enjoy lunch or a snack.  Every time we visit Turin we stack a trolley high and fill our bellies.  The Pizza Bombs on the beer counter are incredible.

 

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