Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Turin: hidden treasure

Enjoy this guest post by Tom from Bristol (UK) co-author of There's treasure everywhere a very interesting and rich website about art, travel, books, movies and food. This website aims to be a place where you can read about the hidden gems that make your life better. 
Thanks to this trip to Turin, there is now a travel section on his website and more people can be introduced to this wonderful city!

Turin is a hidden treasure

Our decision to visit Turin was made without a great deal of research. We wanted to visit a city that was near mountains. One that would be interesting but with plenty of scope for relaxing, oh and some nice food and wine would be great as well. 

Nestled in the foot of the Alps, the location was as expected perfect. What we didn’t realise though was how beautiful, stimulating and downright delicious the city would be.

The tone was set on the day of our arrival, when by chance we found ourselves walking past the Guido Gobino shop on via Lagrange. The unusually shaped mugs that people were drinking from whilst seated outside the shop first took our interest. The contents looked good as well, so we decided to sit a while and sample the hot chocolate that was on offer. Well, this was no ordinary hot chocolate! No, this was quite the thickest, creamiest, most chocolaty, hot chocolate that we had ever had. That was the standard version; we also ordered a spiced version, which was flavoured with aniseed. This was a wonderfully rich and complex flavour and absolutely delicious.

                      This was quite a start to our holiday. Eventually our mugs were empty and we decided to continue our walk around the city. The centre of Turin is nicely compact, so exploring on foot is a very easy thing to do. Now some people, probably those who haven’t visited Turin, will tell you that it’s a dull industrial city, the truth is somewhat different. Stunning buildings abound, from monumental palaces to tiny bakeries, laden with delicious delights; there are visual treats all around you.

Our next stopping point was a case in point. Whilst strolling thorough one of the covered walkways that guide you through miles and miles of the central area, we happened upon the Art Nouveau gem that is Café Mulassano. This was the perfect place for us to enjoy the Turin tradition of Aperitivo, we ordered Vermouth, one of many drinks that were invented in the city and took a seat outside.

One of the great joys about Turin is the splendid tradition of providing you with some delicious snacks when you order an early evening drink. Although we had previous read about this brilliant idea, we had somehow forgotten that it would happen. So here we were, sitting outside one of the most beautiful bars that I had ever seen, enjoying delicious Vermouth, whilst being offered a lovely selection of snacks. This, we decided, was our sort of town.

The next day things got even better. We visited the thriving market at Piazza Madams Cristina, just a few streets away from the lovely apartment we were staying in. Here we wondered past stalls pilled high with, amazing looking fruit and vegetables. Meat, fish and dairy options were also available but we were looking for snacks to take to the Parco Del Valentino and were not disappointed. Amongst the purchases that we made, were the sweetest, most delicious cherries that I have eaten. 

Whilst in the park we also had our first taste of the local Gelato. Now we all know that Italians make good ice cream and it’s clear that the art is particularly well observed here in Turin. A large number of local companies vie for the crown of being the best in the city and our introduction to this contest was through the Pepino outlet in the pretty old building in the north of the park. 

                                                                                                     Hazelnut and Chocolate are two of the specialities of the region, so I had had to select a two-scoop cone featuring Nocciola (Hazelnut) and Cioccolato (Chocolate) – wow! The only trouble with eating Gelato like this is that it will spoil you for the rest of your life; nothing back home in England comes close.

In all we stayed in Turin for six days and it was a delight. The grand squares and boulevards of the Centro area, rub shoulders with the narrow winding streets of the Quadrilatero Romano and the more cosmopolitan San Salvario districts. 

                                                                                    Everywhere you look there are great value food and drink options, many of which are specific to the city or region. A classic example of this is Bicerin, a combination of coffee, chocolate and cream that can kick start your day in a very special way. 

It’s also a city that has an amazing array of museums and cultural sights to visit. From the Mole Antonelliana which dominates the central area of the city, offering amazing views and a spectacular cinema museum, to the Basilica Di Superga perched high on a hill on the edge of the city there are delights all around you.

The real surprise though about Turin is that so few people think of it as holiday destination. It has everything that you could want from a city break, fascinating sights, wonderful food, easy to navigate and good links to some beautiful countryside if you wish to head out for the day. Having discovered it by chance, I hope it’s not too long before we return to sample some more of it’s delights.


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