By MJ, Editor and ELE Travel Writer
When most people plan a visit to Italy the first cities that come to mind are Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice. A lesser visited city that is often overlooked is beautiful Turin in the north of the country.
The capital of the Piedmont region, Turin (or Torino to the locals), is best known for its grand Baroque architecture and delicious cuisine. It is situated in an enviable location in front of the picturesque Susa Valley on the western banks of the Po river.
The city has an elegant, old world charm that is unforced and never hurried. With a population approaching 900,000 and much fewer tourists than Italy’s other more famous cities, Turin is a wonderful place to get a real feel for living an authentic Italian city life.
As Oddur Thorrison so adequately summed it up in his Conde Naste article ‘Turin is the opposite of bling; the charm lies in the patina, not the polish. The well-worn elegance is so unforced, so natural you hardly notice it.’
Getting around the city is a cinch, it is based on a grid with a series of beautiful squares one after the other. The grand Piazza Vittorio Veneta is based on the banks of the river a short walk from the centre of the city.
There are a number of sights to see including the Royal Palace, the Egyptian Museum and the Mole Antonelliana, the tallest museum in the world which houses the National Museum of Cinema, however our favourite thing to do is to just wander through the streets and squares, exploring the stunning architecture and stopping along the way at one of the many cafes and bars to eat, drink and sample the best that the region has to offer.
The city is so walkable, with over 11 miles of arcades to explore and with the main area being fairly flat it is perfect for strolling, gelato in hand.
Vermouth, Cinzano, Campari and Martini all originated in Turin and enjoying an aperitif is a Turin must (we loved the classic Negronis). If alcohol isn’t your thing, then another Turin favourite, Bicerin, a delectable mix of espresso, chocolate and cream, shouldn’t be missed.
Surrounded by mountains and the fertile Po valley, the food in Turin is exceptional. From the delicious chocolate and hazelnut Gianduja, (Nutella was invented here too!), Robiola cheese, fresh truffles, agnolotti and tajarin pasta , there are so many exceptional places to eat you will be completely spoilt for choice.
Getting to Turin is also straightforward, a regular fast train from Milan will have you there in just over an hour and the city is also serviced by flights from most major European cities.
We stayed at the Turin Palace Hotel which was perfectly located (just near the train station) with beautiful rooms, excellent service and a wonderful rooftop terrazza (we will post another review on the hotel shortly).
Turin is perfect base to explore the Piedmont region and its mountains, medieval castles, wineries (make sure you try the local Barolo wine) and charming villages and towns.
So add beautiful Turin to your list to visit on your next Italian vacation – you won’t be disappointed.