Two days in Turin
The capital of Italy’s Piedmont region is the birthplace of the Slow Food movement. “It’s a city where the pleasure’s in eating and drinking,” says local Antonio Carluccio, who gives Tina Walsh a guided tour.
Caffè Al Bicerin
. Turin’s prettiest pasticceria has been serving breakfast to hungry customers since 1763 and is an architectural jewel. With wooden floors, marble tables and mirror-lined walls, it’s a lovely oldtime-warp set in a beautiful square opposite the medieval church of La Consolata. If the weather’s good, bag an outside table and watch the world go by while you sip a bicerin, the house speciality (a velvety hot chocolate with a powerful espresso kick), or zabaione (a light custard, also known as zabaglione, served in a cup and made from egg yolk or fresh cream and Marsala), accompanied by one of a dozen mouthwatering pastries. Don’t forget to buy some Gianduiotto, the luscious, creamy-textured hazelnut-flavoured chocolates the city is famed for, as a take-home treat.
. Europe’s biggest open-air market, in the newly gentrified Quadrilatero area, casts its net much further than Italy. As well as local produce in the farmers’ market, there are foodstuffs from Africa, China and Japan. It takes up most of the Piazza della Repubblica, several side streets and three indoor markets.
“This is where I enjoy shopping the most, as the market sells only the finest seasonal products. I like talking to the farmers to get their advice on how best to use their produce,” says Antonio Carluccio.
Donkey salami, horsemeat and pigs’ snouts are on the menu if you’re feeling brave. Otherwise, the delicately marbled lardo, porcini mushrooms (available in spring and summer, rain permitting), peppers, asparagus and leafy salad vegetables (lamb’s lettuce, chicory and baby spinach) are worth seeking out.
Fresh produce at Porto Palazzo market
An ideal spot for lunch, Pastis is a traditional trattoria set in Emanuele Filiberto piazza, part of which doubles as the restaurant’s outdoor seating area in summer. There’s a good selection of Sicilian dishes (the pasta with aubergine and ricotta or pasta with fresh sardines are especially tasty), and a traditional aperitivo buffet (prosciutto crudo, smoked sausage, cheeses and quiche) is served on the house from 5.30-8pm. The retro 1950s décor gives it a nostalgic feel, and it’s popular with the local bohemian crowd, with a weekly exhibition promoting up-and-coming young artists.
. This traditional and very Italian trattoria is a favourite of Antonio’s. It serves typical Piedmontese cuisine, and is in a fantastic position facing the River Po, just beneath the Mole Antonelliana, a former synagogue and a city landmark. “I never look at the menu as I like to hear what the specials in season are,” says Antonio. Choose from classic appetisers such as carne cruda (raw mincemeat with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil) or roasted peppers stuffed with tuna, with a beefy Barbera or Nebbiolo red wine.
. One of the most recent additions to Turin’s coffee-house scene, Caffè Lavazza is definitely alla moda: witness sharp-suited office workers gulping down espressos at the lean-to counter, while glossy business-types flick through an in-house copy of La Stampa. The caffè is the flagship store of the Turin-based Lavazza brand, but it’s not all about coffee on the run. A
(club sandwich, Italian style) will fill the gap until lunchtime or, for something more substantial, work your way through the excellent wine list at a boozy sit-down lunch in the adjacent restaurant.
Local boy, Antonio Carluccio
Affiliated with the Slow Food Movement, Eataly is a huge food court about a 15-minute walk from the centre. Hundreds of types of pasta, fresh veg, meats and cheeses vie for space with wines, and hand-made luxury chocolates from the likes of D Barbero and Leone. There are also demonstration kitchens, nine eating areas, a conference centre and a museum dedicated to Antonio Benedetto Carpano, who is credited with inventing vermouth in Turin in 1786. For some of the most authentic dishes you’re likely to eat, book a table at Guido per Eataly, a branch of the Michelin-starred Da Guido restaurant in the Langhe area of Piedmont.
This is a great coffee house: gleaming marble floors, crystal chandeliers, sweeping staircases, shelf after shelf of sumptuous-looking pastries just begging you to eat them, and solicitous waiters dashing around in crisp white aprons. Situated in Piazza San Carlo’s elegant arcade, it’s a belle époque masterpiece in a bustling 21st-century city. Pop in for a pastry or lunch on a plate of agnolotti, a Piedmontese dish of ravioli stuffed with roasted meat. There are also lighter options, such as sandwiches and cold plates. Don’t forget to stand on the metal bull’s head plaque (Torino means ‘little bull’) inlaid in the pavement outside the front door: it will bring you good luck, or so it’s claimed.
Caffé Torino coffee house
. Upmarket pizzas are the order of the day (or night) at Gramsci, a suede-lined dining room that’s popular with Turin’s trendsetters, including the odd footballer. Cushioned booths, exposed metal pipes and soft lighting add to the stylishness, but the prices are reasonable – roughly what you’d pay in a run-of-the-mill pizza joint. Best of all, the pizzas taste great. It gets busy, so book beforehand.
via Montebello 24 / +39 011 812 2981
Caffè Al Bicerin
Piazza della Consolata 5 / +39 011 436 9325
Closed most Wednesdays and all of August
via San Tommaso 10 / +39 011 534201
Piazza San Carlo 204 / +39 011 545118
via Nizza 230/14, Lingotto
+39 011 1950 6801; eatalytorino.it
via Antonio Gramsci 12 / +39 011 540635
Piazza Emanuele Filiberto 9B / +39 011 521 1085
Porta Palazzo market
Piazza della Repubblica
open 7am to 2pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 7.30pm Saturday