Describing Turin is no easy task; the city is known for its cold weather, grey cityscape, and large industries. On the other hand, it is also an interesting and multifaceted city, rich in history. Formerly the capital of Italy, and linked to the Savoy tradition, it is a city of charm, brimming with historic monuments and bearing the entrepreneurial spirit of a city in continual economic growth. It is also a very ordered city, built to an urban plan with linear streets from the Roman period. Above all, Turin is an elegant city that does not flaunt its regal past, traces of which can be found in its artistic and historic heritage.
The physical, historic, and cultural centre is the symbol of the ancient capital of the Savoy kingdom. Turin would not be the same without its palaces, such as the Palazzo Madama and the Palazzo Reale , or without the porticos dating from the baroque period. Built to protect the royal family and their court from bad weather, these stunning architectural pieces are visible from a walk which winds around the centre for 18 kilometres. Starting from the Porta Nuova, walk to Piazza Castello , under the porticos which are surrounded by shops, bars and cafes of all kinds, until you reach the River Po. Crossing Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Carlo Felice , walk opposite Palazzo Reale until, in the distance beyond the Piazza Vittorio bridge, the Gran Madre is visible. The numerous cafes in the centre are an excellent refuge in the cold winter days, and provide a sanctuary where one can warm up with tea or a hot chocolate. Platti offers seductive desserts, while Pfatish lures customers with its chocolates. The Caffe Torino is a perfect place to taste bicerin (a local favorite drink consisting of melted chocolate, coffee, and milk), while Baratti , in the Galleria Subalpina has an intriguing atmosphere reminiscent of the far-off days of princes and princesses. On the opposite side of Piazza Castello is the Cathedral which houses the Holy Shroud and is currently undergoing restoration after the fire of a few years ago. The Mole Antonelliana stands out among the other buildings, and offers a splendid landscape view of the city to anyone who wants to climb to the top.
This is a mostly residential area which is popular with the Torinesi for its elegance. The famous Crocetta Market offers a wide variety of quality products in a traditional setting. This is the place to take a deep breath of good Turin air in the midst of distinguished buildings and sophisticated shops.
This area is mainly associated with Fiat , which has its enormous factories here. In the last ten years, this working class area has been revamped and is now one of the most popular places for people looking to buy a new house. There are many green areas in the area, including the famous park, Parco del Valentino , and Superga's Park .
This area is densely populated and contains many shops, but the large number of crowded buildings darken the atmosphere. There are a number of wholesale shops in the area, such as Revedi, but tourists generally prefer to shop in the centre of town. For a more unique tour, make note that Turin is one of thirty three international official centres for witchcraft. Their focal point is either the astrological sundial on the right side of the Cathedral or the Egyptian Museum , which has the second best collection of Egyptian cultural and traditional material and documentation in the world.
The multi-ethnic area of Turin extends from Porta Nuova to Porte Palatine . The large number of immigrants pouring into Turin in the last few years have settled in this area and have recreated the unique atmospheres of their homelands. The Torinesi have partly abandoned this area, which is one of the districts most in need of rehabilitation.
Piedmont is a real culinary wonderland for a number of reasons, many of them geographical: links with France through a shared dynasty heritage go back for centuries. In addition, the mild, sunny climate and an extraordinary rich soil produce some of the world's best vines in the hilly areas of Langhe and Monferrato (30/50 miles SE of Turin). Worldwide, top restaurants, exclusive retreats, and gourmet households have recognized the distinct flavor of Turin's Barolo wines. The white Alba truffle is gaining a strong reputation among culinary experts as well, even getting special coverage in magazines like "Forbes". In Italy everybody knows great red wines such as Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and the popular, strong Barbera, the farmers' everyday wine. As a result, all of the other products of Piedmont are experiencing cult status, even going so far as to make the aforementioned white truffle from Alba sell for about 10 dollars per gram—almost the same price as gold!
When exploring the Centre, there are a variety of different options to satisfy any palate. For a truly traditional experience, visit Del Cambio , which was established in the 18th century and still retains much of its original appeal. From the service to the decor, you will feel very much a part of history. If your tastes run towards more exotic fare, check out Arcadia , a combination sushi bar and Italian trattoria. For those on a budget, Porto di Savona , offers tasty dishes for a good price, with a selection of appetizers and pasta dishes that are especially good. For a taste of the Tuscan sun on a grey Turin day, stop by Al Gatto Nero and enjoy their delicious appetizers with special ingredients imported from Tuscany.
Also make sure to stop by Crocetta-Cenisia for their neighborhood Mercato della Crocetta . One of the best places to buy fresh food in the city, it is always bustling and you can find all sorts of delicious products from around the region. For a comfortable and intimate dining experience, stop by Osteria Antiche Sere and enjoy your meal in one of three cosy rooms or in their outdoor courtyard.
If you have a craving for something sweet, Turin can easily accommodate. Also in the city's Centre is Baratti & Milano , a confectionery, that was opened in 1873 and has remained a top choice for delicious and sophisticated treats. It is also a full service cafe, complete with cocktails and an excellent lunch menu. Not to be outdone, Peyrano-Pfatisch , stands in the Crocetta neighborhood and has gained a strong reputation as a decadent chocolate shop serving everything from cakes to candies.