The Most Gastronomic Turin
14 April, 2014
By: Belén Parra and Carme Gasull
The gastro-event: Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre. 23 to 27 October, 2014
Turin, the ultimate in good taste. From the moment you set foot in Turin, you feel at home, you become imbued with its unique quality and understand why it was the first capital of modern Italy. While the city’s 2 million inhabitants are fully aware of its many attributes and how best to enjoy them, Turin remains relatively untouched by tourism. For decades, the city has been creating its own reality, far removed from the mass tourism of other Italian destinations. The 2006 Winter Olympic Games was clearly a major turning point for Turin, which has never depended on tourism. And the tourists it does receive are mainly from Italy. This is certainly not due to a lack of attractions… Among them, gastronomy. The aptly named Città del Gusto (Good Taste Event) also seduces the taste buds.
Warmth. This best sums up the Turinese nature. You just have to show curiosity, interest or mere ignorance about something to promptly find the desired answer. With a notable generosity. “La buona accoglienza fa bene al turismo”, is the slogan of the day. And they lead by example. There is no place better than Turin for a stress-free stroll. There are no hordes of foreign tourists everywhere you go unless, of course, the city is hosting a major international event.
Obviously, the best way to explore any destination is on foot, but Turin’s superb transport system lets you move around the city at your leisure. Train, bus, underground, tram, public bicycles… Everywhere is so accessible, which makes sightseeing a pleasure. Even so: a gentle stroll, especially around the city centre, is still the best way to discover its pulse, its unique layout and its infinite charms.
Due to the city’s emerging tourist sector, accommodation in Turin is centred on mid to high range hotels. We suggest 2 enticing options of contrasting ambience.
Best Western Hotel Piemontese
Via Claudio Luigi Berthollet, 21
Quaint, discreet and comfortable. It stands in one of the city’s best areas for social and night life. The hotel is surrounded by bars and restaurants for breakfast, fine dining or just drinks. It is also close to the city’s main railway station: Porta Nova.
NH Santo Stefano
Via Porta Palatina, 19
Located in the centre of the modern Quadrilatero Romano, it is within easy reach of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and the historic city centre. Its proximity to the Porta Susa and Porta Nuova railway stations offers easy access to Turin by train.
Being a city of contrasting weather, Turin’s squares are a hive of activity throughout the year. So don’t be surprised to see lots of tables in the streets and especially in the squares. From the imposing Piazza San Carlo, one of the biggest and most elegant squares in the city and which leads to Gran Madre de Dio, through to Piazza Castello or the small squares known as Emanuele Filiberto and Della Consolata.
Snacks, coffee and local beers abound on the tables. The drinks menus at the different establishments offer a seemingly infinite choice. Did you know Turin is also the home of vermouth? Whether winter or summer, the enticing outdoor cafés in the squares are sure to be open. The squares are also home to historic gastronomic establishments.
Establishments with history
Ancient establishments teeming with history and fine produce. Busy places. Like their cafés. Turin is the third city in Italy in terms of historic establishments.
Piazza Castello, 15
The famous tramezzino was created here; a lightly toasted sandwich with a variety of high-quality fillings. The most typical one is filled with d’aragosta’ (lobster) salad. It has been in the same location since 1907.
Piazza Castello, 29
Just a few meters away from the first one, but bigger and for a much sweeter tooth. Delicious chocolates, sweet pastries and cakes are all showcased inside.
Caffè Cioccolateria Al Bicerin
Piazza della Consolata, 5
This small, incredibly popular business (with an adjoining delicatessen) has been open since 1763. Marble tables and chairs, and its star product: bicerin, a drink combining coffee, chocolate and cream. You can try one for just €5.
Caffè Pasticceria Abrate
Via Po, 10
This café boasts a long history of baking and confectionery. It was founded in 1866.
Piazza San Carlo, 214
One of the city’s most famous establishments, it was founded in 1903 and has been at its current location since 1930. It has successfully adapted to the changing times. This large café has a popular snack buffet to accompany your aperitif, as well as outside tables where you can watch the world go by in the bustling Piazza San Carlo square.
Eat and drink
Located in San Salvario, an area offering some of the best night life in the city. The kitchen stays open till the small hours and the bar itself closes at 4 am. It offers home-made pasta, typical sweets, excellent bread, wines, craft beers and good service. It has something for everybody. Its decor is one the star attractions. A sublime fusion of order and chaos. Visiting it is a must!
Via Monte di Pietà, 23
A modern trattoria or an evolution of the typical trattoria without being a cutting-edge establishment that meets the slow food precepts. It is also famous for its worldwide and Italian natural wines, beers and liquors.
Via Carlo Ignazio Giulio 4/G
Managed by two Tuscan sisters, this is a simple and welcoming establishment where the traveller can feel at home eating a good pasta meal with a glass of excellent wine or craft beer, such as the Turinese Brew Up. Next to the Porta Palazzo market.
Piazza Emanuele Filiberto, 9b
The South in the North. With a decidedly retro ambience, this establishment is managed by a Sicilian who has the soul and humour to give his business a character all of its own.
The owner, Andrea Tortorella, makes his presence felt on the walls and even the floor of the café, but especially in the tasty home-made recipes and almost uninterrupted timetable of the kitchen service. Personalised attention to detail in a decor that even includes one of the last pieces of the demolished Berlin Wall. On a cold day, its covered terrace is a great option. Excellent value for money.
Via Goito, 9
Or ‘neighbour’ in the local Piedmont dialect. This small restaurant follows the precepts of the Slow Food philosophy, or eco-gastronomic project (as they like to call it) since it reduces CO2 emissions. Simple home cooking using fresh, local produce. Within easy walking distance of Porta Nuova station.
Via Avogadro, 2
This restaurant and pizzeria is a veritable Mecca for those who like freshly-made pizza baked in a wood-fired oven (you can even watch the entire process from start to finish). The listing of pizzas is fairly classic and prices, opposite to other meals on the menu, are quite economic.
Via Conte Giambattista Bogino, 5
An ideal place to try a typical Piedmont menu with different options to suit all tastes, including such dishes as vitello tonnato (cold, roast veal with mayonnaise and capers). And be sure to try (or purchase) some of the wines exhibited throughout the whole restaurant.
It is named after the most famous 18th century Turinese mathematician, who invented rational mechanics. They say that focaccia is a mathematical science based on a finite number of flour particles subjected to a dynamic encounter with water and oil. Nothing else. You can judge for yourselves at three establishments (Via Lagrange 11/f, via Sant’Agostino 6 and Piazza Castello, 153).
Via Cavour, 10
A myriad of bread in all its shapes and forms, such as grissini (breadsticks) which were invented in Turin to help young Vittorio Amedeo II, who was a weak child and loved to eat this crunchy, easy-to-digest bread. Or so they say. The establishment is often packed and has long queues of people waiting to buy fresh bread, biscuits or sweet pastries, or to enjoy a panino, focaccia or just a coffee.
Where to go shopping
Porta Palazzo Market
A fabulous blend of colours, flavours and cultures, it is the biggest market in Turin and the largest food market in all of Europe. Shops, bars, trattorias and businesses under one roof and offering all kinds of products, from clothes to antiques. Time simply flies by when you’re browsing the stalls.
Via Maria Vittoria, 27/C
The cake shop-boutique par excellence. A true emblem of quality chocolate. The owner obviously loves chocolate, pampering it as if he had grown it himself. In his workshop, a few kilometres away from the city, Guido Castagna teaches his profession. His know-how has attracted many followers and given rise to some exceptional giandujotti (a typical Turin sweet made from chocolate and hazelnuts) . You have to try them!
Torino is not only the city of chocolate, but also of ice-cream. And the best is made by Alberto Marchetti. He has two ice-cream parlours in the city. The largest is at Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 24bis, while the other is at Via Po 35 bis. And he’s opening a third on Via Rossini. There is such a choice of flavours, they’ll let you try a few first. Just as well, or you’d be there all day trying to choose! Try some popcorn ice-cream or a delicious pallino (espresso and a scoop of ice-cream with whipped cream on top). It’s all home-made. Delicious. Amazing ice-creams from just €2. It is also babyfriendly (changing table in the bathroom and a table with games).
Eataly Alti Cibi
Via Nizza, 230/14
A great deli on a large scale. Due to its size and its wide range of quality products. It has something to suit all tastes. If you’re looking for something in particular to try or and even as a gift, you’re sure to find it here: pasta, rice, chocolate and other sweets, coffee, sauces and condiments, cookery books, kitchenware… Quality, sustainability and ecology. The first shop was opened in Turin, followed by Rome, Florence and Milan. Today, there are 26 Eataly establishments worldwide.
Also be sure to visit…
Two great museums
Or two in particular, at least. The Egyptian Museum (Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6) is considered the second most important museum in the world after the Cairo Museum due to its collection of antiques. An ambitious refurbishment is currently underway and is not due to end until 2015.
If you’re a film buff, we recommend the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, located in Mole Antonelliana, a major landmark on the city skyline (Via Montebello, 20). Rising 167 metres above the city, it has a glass lift that takes you up to the top of the huge dome, where you can enjoy panoramic views. Simply breathtaking.
CathedralA must in the city, this beautiful building from the 14th century dedicated to St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Turin, holds the burial cloth in which Jesus was wrapped after being lowered from the cross: the Holy Shroud, also known as the Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud. The relic is shown only on special occasions.
Take a stroll along its banks. If you still have time for more sightseeing, you can stand on one of the many bridges and watch the Po flow by. If you prefer, you can also go for a boat ride on the river. It is the most Parisian touch of this Transalpine city.
Now, as before, we will always have Turin.
We’ll be there. If you want to come too, check out our flights here.
14 April, 2014