Turin, a City Tasting Tour
Turin's royal pedigree and vicinity to the Alps makes it a must-see destination when visiting northwestern Italy. The city is the perfect place to visit if you want to escape the crowds of Rome and the fashionistas in Milan. Once the stomping grounds of the House of Savoy, the historic dynasty that ruled Italy from 1861 to 1946, Turin has flourished as Italy's industrial capital while leaving a mark in the culinary arena. The city is home to many culinary inventions including Tic Tacs, grissini (breadsticks), hazelnut chocolate and many other enticing treats.
A CITY ADDICTED TO CHOCOLATE
Every March the city hosts CioccolaTo , a heavenly chocolate festival with tasting workshops, competitions and plenty of chocolaty treats. The moment you step out of the Porta Nuova train station, you feel like you've walked into Willy Wonka's world as chocolate fills the air. Turin's love affair with chocolate dates back to the 16th century but it wasn't until 1852 that the city's trademark gianduiotto, a mix of chocolate and local hazelnuts, was created by Michele Prochet. When cacao was scarce and prohibitively costly, Prochet decided to blend it with hazelnuts which resulted in an exquisite and positively addictive concoction. Gianduiotti (in plural) are sold throughout the city but the best come from specialty shops.
COFFEE AND GELATO
Turin's love for chocolate runs so deep it's no wonder locals found a way to blend it with their coffee. The city is home to il bicerin, a velvety beverage made from hot chocolate, espresso and whipped cream. It is said to be have been invented in 1763 at a shop by the same name. It's best to enjoy a nice cup of bicerin after you've taken a stroll through Via Roma and the nearby Turin Cathedral (Duomo di Torino).
When it comes to gelato, Turin has plenty of hotspots to enjoy this Italian classic. Grom and Venchi are the top artisanal gelato chains you'll spot throughout the city. Grom was opened in 2003 by wine and gelato maker Guido Martinetti and businessman Federico Grom. After experiencing a smashing success in their hometown and throughout Italy, they've since expanded to the U.S. market. You'll want to try hazelnut, chocolate and pistachio.
Another artisanal gelato chain is Venchi, which specializes in gourmet chocolate. The company was founded in Turin back in 1878 by chocolatier Silvano Venchi. They sell a range of chocolates and gelato made with cocoa from Central and South America and Africa. When cruising down Via Po you'll want to swing by Caffé Fiorio .
MARKETS AND SHOPPING
Via Roma, located at the heart of the city center, is considered Turin's elite shopping center. You'll find plenty of name brand shops and elegant piazzas where you'll want to enjoy a café under the sun as you gaze onto grand piazzas. Across town in the Lingotto neighborhood you'll find Eataly, the premier shop for all gourmet Italian products. The two-story mega shop is truly a paradise for foodies. It has a host of restaurants and gelato shops that will satisfy all palates. Turin is home to Porta Palazzo Market, the largest outdoor market in Europe. Attracting as many as 100,000 visitors, the market is truly a spectacle where you'll find plenty of fresh produce, cheeses, cured meats, gourmet products and much more. You'll spot farmer's markets at Piazza Palazzo di Cittá. and Piazza Madama Cristina. The schedule's vary by season but here's a general idea of when they run. Piazza Palazzo di Cittá 1st Sunday of every month and 4th Saturday of every month, Piazza Madama Cristina 1st Sunday of every month and 3rd Sunday of every month.