Torino is one of my favourites cities that I have ever visited (and that number is really growing now!)
Not many people who travel to Italy from Australia at least, seem to stop here – generally they’ll tour around and visit Rome, Venice, Pisa, Florence, Naples etc. Why go then if nobody else thinks it’s worth going to? Well, I first went to Torino in 2009 to visit my friend Andrea (he is a guy, pronounce it like On-drey-ah) who lived with me during 2007 as an exchange student. I initially spent three weeks there and it was so wonderful, a whole city full to the brim with history (Torino used to be Italy’s capital and home to the royal family) and picturesque views of the French-inspired buildings and Italian-French Alps. There was also barely a tourist insight apart from myself! And this is the key reason I loved it instantly, the city felt so genuine. The menus at restaurant weren’t geared towards fast-food preferences and generic flavours that everybody loves, but towards the traditional meals eaten by those living the Piemonte region of Italy. The cost of meals and a cup of coffee were ridiculously cheap compared with elsewhere in Italy and ten times better. Some of the most famous brands in the world originated in Torino – think Lavazza Coffee, Buratti and Milano Chocolate, Leone Pastille lollies, the list goes on!
The food in Torino and Piemonte is unlike that of typical Italian cuisine. There’s gorgeous pastas, all hand-made and fresh and so affordable it’s uncommon to need to have packet pasta. Wonderful vineyards supply the region with gorgeous red wines. A good bottle of Piemontese wine can be picked up at the local supermarket for a few euro – a stern contrast to Melbourne where we have an alcohol tax. Lunch is the main meal of the day and all the shops close for a couple of hours so that workers can go home and have lunch with their families before returing around 4pm. Dinner is later, around 9pm. A popular breakfast is stopping at a coffee bar on your way to uni or school or work and ordering a ‘café a piedi’ (coffee standing at the bench) at the local coffee bar and a brioche of some sort for under 2 euro.
Depending on the time of year you visit, the region has some wonderful delicacies including ‘marron glace’ or a glaced chestnut during wintertime. I ate at least one of these every single day! The texture is unlike anything else, the flavor of the chestnut shines through with a hint of sweetness from the glace syrup remaining on the outside of the nut. Many cafes had these, the cheapest I found was 1 euro 50 cents and most expensive was 3 euro. Otherwise grab a small amount for take away and pay a per kilo price!
Top tips for Torino:
- Visit the Superga, a church on the highest hill in Torino that is beautiful and houses the marble crypts of the Savoy family who were the royals in Italy. Loads of interesting info and incredible views!
- Have a Chianti (red wine) in Piazza Vittorio at dusk. Just do it, it’s my favourite.
- Walk through the cobblestone streets with a cup of ‘Grom’ gelato. They have seasonal variations, are never too sweet, and are always brimming with layers of flavour.