Mon 19 Apr 2010
Only 45mins from TorreBarolo, you can be in downtown Turin. I understand if Turin might not be on your list of “Must Sees” if you only have a week of holiday in the Langhe but I would strongly suggest even an afternoon as it has some of the finest cafes in Europe, wonderful promenades and a strong sense of history that will surely enhance your holiday experience.
Turin has its share of beautiful palazzos and interesting museums but to get a sense of the city’s gracious past, exploring the cafes is a fun way to do this. In experiencing these cafe’s decor, you see that Turin‘s great era has more in common with Paris than with Rome. I suppose with all these cafes it should not be surprising Turin also is home to the largest coffee company in Italy, Lavazza. They even have their own training center where you can take a class on everything coffee but it is for professionals only.
Torino also produces some of the finest chocolate in Italy as well and often you find in Torino coffee and chocolate are often combined. Gianduia is a good example of their excellence in chocolate, as the blending with hazelnuts (from the Langhe) creates a deliciously sweet confection.
Below are a few suggestions of caffès and sweet shops, though don’t leave it to a Sunday as almost all these shops are closed on Sunday and even some of the caffès and some even on Monday.
Caffè-Pasticceria Baratti & Milano, Piazza Castello 29, closed Monday. This caffè, which opened in 1875, is known for its quiet elegance. Its gracious rooms are ideal for enjoying a coffee or tea with a delicious pastry.
Caffè-Confetteria al Bicerin, Piazza della Consolata 5, closed Sunday afternoon and all day Wednesday. Although this is a bit tricky to find, it is a landmark not to be missed. It is Torino’s oldest locale in continuous operations (since 1763) and it can claim both Nietzsche and Alexandre Dumas as regulars. Bicerin is named for its most popular drink, which is a combination of hot coffee, chocolate and light cream. I can definitely say this is a “must experience” drink and given the quality and richness of the ingredients, dare I say I didn’t even need a pastry to accompany my beverage. The word Bicerin comes from Torinese dialect that means “something delicious”. If a hot drink might not be what you are after on a summer evening, they also make a light refreshing chocolate drink called cioccolato freddo.
Caffè del caffè, Piazza Carlo Felice 49. Many locals say this beautiful bar has the best coffee in town.
Caffè Mulassano, Piazza Castello 15, closed Sunday. This is a classic cafe and considered by many to be one of the most beautiful. It opened in 1907 and its decor reflects a taste for the exotic that influenced the art and design in Torino at the time.
Caffè San Carlo, Piazza San Carlo 156, open weekdays and weekends until 2 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday. Opened in 1837. A perfectly square room, a neoclassical hall of 12 mirrors with a huge Venetian chandelier above.
Caffè Torino, Via Roma 204 (Piazza San Carlo). Closed Sunday. Opened in 1903. They have seating outside under the porticos but the elegance of the decor on the inside is what I enjoy. Inside there is a long carved wood bar on the left and on the right is a display case with chocolate, tiny pastries, gelatine (candied fruit) and breakfast pastries.
Confetteria Avvignano, Piazza Carlo Felice 50. Closed Monday morning and Sunday. This has been a sweet shop since 1882.
Falchero, Via San Massimo 4 (just off Via Po) Closed on Monday and 3 weeks in August. Famous for tiny fresh creamy pasticcini that weigh only 10g and contain relatively little sugar. You can taste the flavours of all the ingredients.