Before we traveled to Turin we knew very little about the city other than that it was known for its car production. Little did we know that Turin is also a foodie’s heaven, something that we discovered during our time there. Not many people seem to know about this great gastronomical treasure of northern Italy – it’s almost as though it as been forgotten of.
The locals claim that the reason is because they don’t brag and tell everyone about how great their food is, they just know it’s the best…
Turnin is Europe’s Largest Open-Air Market
In Turin you will find the largest open-air fruit and vegetable market in Europe.
Full of life, the bustling market starts in the morning (around 8am) and goes on until 2pm.
This is where the locals go to buy their weekly food shopping, and a great place to soak up the Italian atmosphere.
Selling seasonal fruits and vegetables by the kilo, you can easily buy a whole week of greens for €6, and it’s the perfect place to put together a cheap picnic lunch before heading over to one of the parks nearby.
If you’re a chocolate fan, prepare to be in for a real treat! What was originally an attempt to “thin out” chocolate to make it more affordable turned into one of the most delicious chocolate treats ever: the Gianduja.
A mixture of chocolate and hazelnuts, the Gianduja comes in bite sized treats called Giandujotto, and can be bought pretty much anywhere in Turin.
They’re seriously some of the most amazing chocolate treats I’ve ever had, and I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate in my life..!
To give you an idea of the flavor, Gianduja was the inspiration to the more famous (and cheaper) Nutella spread we all love so much – which in Turin they throw into almost everything, from coffee to snacks.
We’ve written before about Turin’s obsession for chocolate, and the Bicerin is one of its proudest inventions.
A hot chocolate/coffee drink, Bicerin is a unique drink of Turin, and a must-try for cool evenings.
Another warm drink typical for Turin is Zabaglione, an alcoholic type of egg-nod, where the egg is whipped into a foam, and you basically eat the drink with a spoon.
It’s sweet, a little sticky, and has a strong alcoholic liqueur flavor.
Biscotti & Bagnati
To go with their hot chocolate coffee drinks, the Savoy family that ruled Piedmont invented bite sized biscuits to dip in their hot drinks.
These delights made especially to be dunked come in many different flavors and varieties, some of the most famous are Baci di Dama, Canestrelli and Savoiardi – better known as ladies fingers.
Our favorite were Torcetti (in the lower left corner), but there is really an infinite variety of specialties waiting to seduce you and be enjoyed in Turin’s small, traditional patisseries.
At Caffé al Bicerin (famous for their Bicerin) you can order a plate of assorted traditional biscuits for €6 to go with your drink – they’re definitely worth it!
As if the fact that Turin invented eating chocolate wasn’t enough, one of the most famous gourmet chocolates in the world – Ferrero Rocher, was also invented in Turin.
Piedmont region Turin Wine
The Piedmont region of Turin is famous for their wine, especially of the red sort.
One of the perks of Italy, and especially Piedmont, is that wine can be bought everywhere, and surprisingly cheap.
In some of the cheaper restaurants such as “Brek” you just grab a jug of the size you want and pour wine from a tap lie it was water!
Two glasses can cost as little as €1,70, not to mention the prices of bottles from a wine shop of supermarket.
If you like wine that is a little tangy, you’ll love Italian wine.
Turin claims to be the inventor of so many things it’s almost a bit of a joke; one cafe even claims the fame for “bite sized sandwiches”, and prize them accordingly…
The city is apparently also where “aperitivo” was invented, a sort of “happy hour” thing when you buy a drink and get a buffet or snacks for free.
Unlike “happy hour”, drinks aren’t usually cheaper, but you get free food included.
For a proper buffet expect to pay €9, but if you just want to enjoy a refreshing Aperol Spritz with some peanuts and chips you can get a drink for as little as €4 (at least from our favorite local hangout, Roger Bar at Via Torquato Tasso 9).
Turin’s Slow Food Movement
The invasion of fast food joints popping up like a plague across Italy in the 80’s gave birth to a new food revolution – the Slow Food Movement.
This new movement began in the Piedmont region (in a town called Bra close to Turin) and was aimed to reclaim the meaning of eating in Italy, and offer the public good food carefully made with love, rather than pre-made reheated burger patties.
While the Supermarket/Restaurant Eataly is the most famous, there are many great slow food restaurants all over Turin.
The Piedmont area is not only one of the best wine growing areas in Italy, but also the best for growing the exotic (and expensive) Truffels.
Every year Turin holds a truffle festival where the best chefs from around the world travel to the city to seek out the best truffles for their restaurants.
If you’re interested in visiting Turin and sample their amazing food, Co-op Travel offers some great holiday packages to Italy, where you can easily make Turin part of a day-trip.
Next time you travel through northern Italy make sure you stop over in Turin for a day or two to sample their great food!
5 Top Things To Do In Turin Italy
Some say that Turin is Italy’s most overlooked city, and until the Winter Olympics in 2006 few people thought of it as anything else than an industrial car city – they couldn’t be more wrong!
Although Turin justifiably is known for its cars, there is so much more to the city than Fiat or Ferrari.
And since we’re not very interested in cars – we will give you a car-free guide to Turin and show what we think are the city’s real treasures …
Turin Italy – Eat, Drink & Eat Some More
While you can find good food all over Italy, Turin specializes in the food that we love most; wine, cheese, chocolate and truffles.
Turin is said to have invented the solid form of chocolate, but is more famous for its hot chocolate drink called Bicerin.
Turin has a love story with chocolate like few other cities, and a must-try when you’re there is the Giandujotto, a hazelnut chocolate praline that was the inspiration to the worldwide favorite Nutella chocolate.
If you’re not a chocolate fan there are still plenty of other foods to taste, such as the world famous truffles – every year during the truffle festival the world’s best chefs visit Turin to seek out the best truffles.
Also make sure you spend an evening at a bar and order an aperitivo (a drink with snacks or a small buffet included), a popular tradition in Turin.
For a more detailed guide on what to eat in Turin, stay tuned for our “food guide to Turin” next week.
The (Fake) Turin Medieval Castle
Located by the river front, Turin has a stunning medieval castle – only it dates back to the 19th century…
That’s right, it’s not actually a medieval castle, but a mash-up of inspiration from all the surrounding medieval buildings in the Piedmont area, built in 1884 for an international exhibition.
The replica of the 15th Century Piedmontese Castle and Village gives you a great idea of what life was like in Piedmont during the medieval times.
Each room is furnished and built as a replica of a room in the various castles in the area, so in a way you could say that you get “the best of all the castles in one” – the Valentino Park which the Village is located in is really lovely to spend some time in as well, with a botanical Garden and food stalls.
Reggia di Venaria
Reggia di Venaria is one of the latest additions to Turin’s attractions, as it opened to the public only a few years ago – the beautiful palace where the Savoy family once lived is quite spectacular, and after years of neglect and decline it has been restored to its former glory.
Built in mid 1600’s to celebrate beauty, hunting and leisure pursuits, it was a true show-off palace for the Savoy family that once built it.
We spent several hours in the palace, gardens and cute medieval town and still didn’t see everything there was to see, so it’s definitely a half-day trip in itself..!
National Museum of Cinema
To tell you the truth, neither of us are big fans of museums so we don’t usually make an effort to visit many of them when traveling – the Cinema Museum, however, is actually really cool, and even Nathan was glad he went to check it out.
Located in Turin’s most iconic building Mole Antonelliana, it’s an interactive museum where you can walk through different rooms, each dedicated to its own film genre; from romance, comedy and Loney Toones to horror and sci-fi, all very creatively designed.
At the top of Mole Antonelliana you can get one of the best views overlooking Turin, and the lift taking you up to the viewing point is a pretty neat experience alone!
One of our favorite things to do in Turin was to take the old 1930’s cogwheel train from Sassi (a suburb across the river in Turin) up the Superga mountain to the Basilica of Superga.
The cute train is well preserved in its 1930’s condition and slowly climbs the mountain through green forests until it finally stops at an altitude of 672 meters.
The bright yellow Basilica proudly sits on top of the mountain overlooking Turin, river Po and the snowy alps, and there is a cute little cafe just below the Basilica terrace that makes a great Spritze to be enjoyed under the cherry blossom trees on the terrace.
Many football fans make pilgrimages to the top of this hill to pay respect for the city’s historic football team Il Grande Torino, who were on the plane that tragically crashed into the Superga mountain in 1949 – the team used to go under the nickname “the invincible”.
A big thanks to the Turin tourism board for providing us with Turin Piedmont Cards to help explore the city.