Italy is easily my favourite country; the history in Rome, the scenary in Tuscany, the romance of Venice and the glamour of Milan. Honestly, Turin had never really been on my radar until now and now the capital of Piedmont is firmly on my list of favourites. A gastronomic temple, a motor city, an industrial hub and the home of Juventus (so Mr S told me), Turin was actually once the capital of Italy and there are several reasons why it should make it to your list of cities to visit.
1. Enjoy Alpine Views
With it’s stunning Alpine fringe, the hill tops command incredible views over the city and the mountains beyond. One of the most stunning moments of my road trip with Ford cars was seeing this view sweeping ahead of me.
2. Eat in a Historical Restaurant
The Slow Food Movement began in Turin and the region is famous for its produce particularly chocolate, truffles and wine!
Being such a capital of gastronomy, Turin is home to many historic restaurants and cafes. We visited Circolo dei Lettori (reader’s circle), located in the 17th Century Palazzo Graneri della Roccia. It is a public space dedicated to reading with an eclectic combination of baroque and contemporary architecture and it houses a beautiful restaurant.
The restaurant is located in beautiful historical rooms with vaulted ceilings and a gallery of portraits of artists from the region. Headed up by Chef Stefano, the restaurant specialises in traditional Piedmontese dishes using local ingredients.
We sampled a delicious tasting menu where beef was the star of the show.
I loved this caramelised red onion with cheese, salt cod and capers.
Carnaroli rice which makes a very creamy risotto is sourced from Piedmont and we enjoyed it mixed with Fassone beef.
Zabaglione parfait with maize power and bitter chocolate was the perfect dessert.
Though I didn’t get to try it myself Ristorante del Cambio was also recommended to me. Founded in 1757, it’s one of the world’s oldest restaurants and steeped in history, but also in possession of a Michelin star.
The cafes are famous too as during the 1700’s Turin’s gentry met to discuss the art and politics of the day. It’s traditional to drink bicerin, a mix of coffee, bitter chocolate and milk from a small glass cup.
3. Visit the Automobile Museum
Turin is the historic birthplace of FIAT, one of the world’s leading car manufacturers, the ‘T’ is FIAT actually stands for T0rino, the Italian name for Turin. As one of Italy’s ‘Motor Cities’ it’s the perfect place for the Automobile Museum, a fantastic space that reopened in 2011 after a massive restoration.
We were fortunate enough to visit and have a tour around the collection of nearly 200 cars, seeing every thing from FIATs to Ferraris, Maseratis to Mercedes, and Renaults to Rolls Royces! It’s an absolute heaven for car lovers!
The car that I was most thrilled to see was the Ford Model T. It was rather appropriate as this trip was hosted by Ford, but it also brought back memories of studying the period of American history and Henry Ford’s revolutionary assembly line. His quick and efficient production techniques meant his Ford Model T car was first affordable car, available to the middle classes.
4. Eat Chocolate
Did you know that Turin was chocolate heart of Europe? In 1678 Turin was granted the license to produce chocolate and fashionable chocolate houses serving hot chocolate opened. By the end of the 18th Century Turin produced 350 kilos of chocolate a day supplying Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. Gianduia, chocolate mixed with hazelnuts, was actually invented in Turin during the Napoleonic wars when chocolate was in short supply and has been the traditional chocolate of the region ever since. And you guessed it, that’s where Nutella came from!
Family run businesses in the area have been producing the very best chocolate for generations and I was lucky to visit one of Turin’s finest chocolatiers, Guido Gobino. Producing some on the world’s best Gianduia, Guido Gobino is truly legendary but his real skill lies in the careful balance of tradition and innovation.
Of course, I tried some of their exquisite chocolate but we also had the chance to prepare some creations of our own. Dividing into teams we created truffles and fruit skewers all prepared with some of the finest chocolate from Guido Gobino.
I loved the masterpiece from one team that replicated the truffle-hunting dog!
We were also given a tour of the chocolate factory and though there was no Oompah Lumpahs, it was fascinating to have a tour of the factory and see how the chocolate goes from bean to bar.
Research and development never stops and Guido Gobino are always on the cutting edge of technology to have the very best processes and flavour.
We also popped down the road to a restaurant called Piola del Cine where a chocolate tasting menu had been created for us in collaboration with Guido Gobino. Here we experienced a chocolate tasting menu using all the specialties from the master chocolatier: hazelnuts, cacao beans and cocoa nibs.
For big chocolate lovers it’s also worth noting that Ferrero Rocher was invented in Turin!
5. Discover the History
Walking through wide boulevards and surrounded by beautiful Baroque architecture, Turin is actually more like Paris than the other Italian cities that I’ve visited. The city centre is beautifully atmospheric and as we walked around we were surrounded by grand museums, beautiful churches and spectacular arcades.
Sadly I didn’t have a huge amount of time to explore the city but we did take a walk to the Piazza Castello which lies at the heart of Turin and has done since the Roman ages. It is the setting for many of the historic town buildings such as the Royal Palace and the Palazzo Madama.
PIN FOR LATER:
Have you been to Turin? Do you have any recommendations of things to eat, do and see?
My trip to Turin was hosted by Ford but this is not a sponsored post.