Turin, the slow food foodies top 9
Italy is full of great cities. Bad luck for Turin because that city is often not included in the lists of favorites. Is that right? Certainly not. If only because Turin is the birthplace of the Slow Food movement – Food for foodies!
1) Caffe San Carlo: richly decorated
The rich décor of Caffe San Carlo (Piazza San Carlo 156) already featured in travelogues from the 19th century. With how much gold leaf, stucco, mirrors, and frescoes, can you decorate a coffee bar? And then there’s also a chandelier the size of a modest family car. But despite all this splendor, these cafes are affordable for everyone. In Italy, the government determines the price of a cup of coffee; a quick espresso at the bar costs the same everywhere – around 1 euro. You may drink coffee at any hour in Italy, but whoever orders a cappuccino after half past ten in the morning falls short: foreigner!
Piazza San Carlo is also one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It is full of baroque buildings with arcades from the mid-17th century. Turin has 18 kilometers of arcades. They were built to ensure that the kings and queens of the Savoy dynasty would keep it dry during their daily stroll.
2) Caffè Torino: the living room of Turin
At Piazza San Carlo, you’ll find Turin’s most famous historic cafes though they look more like palaces than bars, with their glittering crystal chandeliers and plush velvet sofas. Caffè Torino is known as ‘the living room of Turin’ because everyone goes there. Even movie stars like Ava Gardner, James Stewart and Brigitte Bardot were regulars when they were in town (Piazza San Carlo 204).
3) Guido Gobino: Chocolate ‘Pillows’
Gianduiotti belongs to the culinary heritage of Turin and the Piedmont region since roughly 150 years. It’s a classic among the sweets made of chocolate and hazelnut. Guido Gobino’s shop (Via Lagrange 1) – a guy who really can do magic with chocolate – is one of the best places to buy a box. In the back of the shop is the Degustazione – a special tasting room with dark brown leather sofas with ‘chocolate’ pillows. There they serve bicerin, a secret blend of hot chocolate and coffee covered with a thick layer of cream.
4) Al Bicerin: best bar in Italy
Another fine place for a bicerin is Al Bicerin, founded in 1763, and one of the most popular cafes in Turin. Here they serve the drink in tulip-shaped glasses. There is often a queue for one of the eight tables in this intimate coffee house with wood paneling. But it is worth waiting for. The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche and writer, Italo Calvino were once regulars. In 2000, Al Bicerin won the coveted Gambero Rosso for the best bar in Italy (Piazza della Consolata 5).
5) Grom: books and ice cream
In Via del Po, another great shopping street with wide, covered porches, are many historic establishments, antique shops, and bookstores. Whoever is looking for a unique book will find it here for sure. Just around the corner is another excellent ice cream shop, Grom. They mainly work with seasonal ingredients: strawberries in summer, mandarins in winter et cetera. The favorite of many: chocolate with candied chestnut. Grom is now a chain, but it all started in Turin (Via Accademia delle Scienze 4)..
6) Apericena: drinks & bites
Via del Po leads to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, or Piazza Vittorio, as locals call it. It is one of the most spacious squares in the world, full of cafes and wine bars with terraces that are open all day. Many Italians meet after work at Lobelix for the apericena. Only the drinks (aperitivo) costs money, but the food (cena) is free. This apericina is typical for the North of Italy. In Milan, they know it too. In Lobelix, the food (little snacks, a kind of tapas) is good; that’s not the case everywhere, and there are a lot of choices. They serve 25 to 30 cold and hot dishes (Piazza Vittorio Veneto 23).
7) Home of the Martini
Turin is known for its love of aperitivi. It is the home of Martini, and vermouth is also invented here.
8) Trendy river bars
Murazzi del Po, the river promenade, is the entertainment area for later in the evening. The vaulted warehouses and boathouses of yesteryear give the area a nineteenth-century atmosphere. There are simple bars where the locals party till late. They drink mainly cocktails; wine is something you drink during dinner.
At the end of the Murazzi is Parco del Valentino, the green lung of Turin. It’s a favorite meeting place for the Torinesi. In the summer, they bring towels and get a tan. It’s a good place for a picnic with friends. Everyone brings something to eat and drink. There is also a botanical garden (Corso Massimo D’Azeglio).
9) Foodies heaven
From the train station, you can take the subway to the Lingotto neighborhood, where architect Renzo Piano renovated the former Fiat factory. It is primarily a shopping mall, but that’s the good thing; you also find Eataly. At Eataly, they sell absolutely everything concerning food and drinks. In the basement, hams hang from the ceiling to dry and the finest cheeses mature here. The place gets busy during lunch time. Apparently, the Eataly concept appeals to many people: fresh, seasonal and regionally. 100% Italian! If you don’t find it here, it doesn’t exist.