It is not ancient like Rome, modern like Milan or touristy like Florence and Venice, but Turin has undergone a great transformation in the last twenty years. Always considered the city of Fiat and factories, the Piedmontese capital has much more to offer, from contemporary art to live music, from the film festival to the book fair, from chocolate to wine. During the Christmas period, then, the streets light up with lights and artistic installations.
3 pm: books and coffee.
The tour begins with a coffee in Piazza Carignano. At the Farmacia del Cambio, an old apothecary’s shop from the mid-nineteenth century, the ancient shelves no longer offer medicines but pastries, sugared almonds and sweets of all kinds. The dehors overlooks Palazzo Carignano, one of the most important buildings in Turin: before becoming the seat of the Museum of the Risorgimento, it was the seat of the first parliament of the Kingdom of Italy. In the same square there is the unmissable Luxemburg, the oldest bookshop in the city, founded in 1872. Inside you will find the latest books by Jonathan Franzen and Sally Rooney in the original language, the best sellers of the month, a dedicated shelf poems, the entire Adelphi catalogue, all the international fashion and design magazines, but also a book on gardening written by Francis Bacon and published by Henry Beyle. Those spoiled for choice can contact the booksellers, Tonino, Gigi and Marco, who always know what to recommend. And if you still want books, a few meters away you can go to the Gilibert antiquarian bookshop, also famous for its period posters. It is located inside the Subalpina gallery, which is worth a visit.
5 pm: chocolate break.
For a hot chocolate and a tourinot there is Guido Gobino, the master of gianduiotti. The shop in via Lagrange, one of Turin’s luxury shopping streets, can be recognized from afar by its orange colour, but also by the queue outside.
5.30 pm: the Mole Antonelliana.
In addition to being the symbol of Turin, it is also the seat of the National Cinema Museum. The exhibition itinerary develops in a spiral, from bottom to top and is a journey through time, from the Lumière brothers to today. On display are Marylin Monroe’s shoes, Charlie Chaplin’s hat, some sketches by Federico Fellini, posters of all the great classics of the twentieth century, 1918 cameras and over one million photos and 30,000 films. After the visit, those who don’t suffer from vertigo can take the panoramic lift that takes you to the top of the Mole. The view over Turin is the icing on the cake.
7 pm: Piedmontese menu.
In Piazza Carlo Emanuele II, known to the Turinese as Piazza Carlina, the former home of Antonio Gramsci has become a noteworthy hotel, the Nh Carlina, perfect for a pre-evening cocktail. For dinner, instead, go to the Tre galli, in the Roman quadrilateral area. The menu is typical of Piedmont: raw meat, veal with tuna sauce, agnolotti, tajarin. The wine list is remarkable, but one from Piedmont should be chosen. For a drink after dinner, however, any bar in Piazza Emanuele Filiberto is fine; among these is the Pastis, which takes its name both from the French liqueur and from the Piedmontese dialect word meaning “pastry”, as the inscription at the entrance states: “My life is a pastis”.
9 a.m.: old drugstores.
On Saturday mornings, the people of Turin go shopping at Porta Palazzo, the largest open market in Europe, which is located in the Borgo Dora district, near the palatine gate, the main Roman-era relic in the city. It is advisable to go to Damarco, an old-time grocery store that sells thousands of wine labels but also everything that the foodstuffs used to sell in the past. In addition to food, there is Balon: in the historic flea market in via Andreis and its surroundings, you can do great deals, furnish your home with antique furniture and find old design objects at very good prices.
1 pm: on the benches of Cuore.
Quick lunch at the Gallina fish market, a real institution. Given the generous portions, one dish will be more than enough. Continuing towards the center, you can taste another symbol of Turin in addition to the gianduiotto: the bicerin, also made with chocolate. The original can be found at the Caffè al Bicerin, in Piazza della Consolata: there will be a wait but it’s worth it. In front of the restaurant is the church of the Consolata, one of the symbolic monuments of the Turin Baroque, whose majestic interior is worth a visit. Continuing towards via Corte d’Appello there is a very small museum, the Musli, dedicated to school, books and childhood. The halls of Palazzo Tancredi di Barolo are set up with animated books published from the 19th century onwards, school desks from the times of Cuore, the story of Pinocchio in various languages and versions. Recommended for children but not only.
17: a tour of the pyramids.
A visit to the Egyptian Museum, the most important in the world on Egyptian civilization after the one in Cairo, is truly unmissable. Among sarcophagi, papyri of over 18 meters, sphinxes and tombs, there are over forty thousand artifacts to admire. You need to book online and wait in line, but the lights and statues of the Gallery of Kings, set up by Oscar winner Dante Ferretti make even the wait bearable.
7 pm: Michelin star.
For dinner we move to the Aurora area, to Nuvola Lavazza. Designed by Cino Zucchi, it is the architectural complex where the homonymous coffee company is based. Inside is also the Condividere restaurant, a Michelin star in a formal but fun setting.
9 am: Sunday is the day of the Po.
Breakfast is served at Maggiora in Corso Fiume, in the pre-hill area. The bar, small and always crowded, is famous for the vipers, croissants named in honor of the women who frequent the place, considered a bit of a gossip. Be that as it may, they are very good. Then descending on the Corso Vittorio bridge, beyond the monumental arch, the Valentino park begins: 421,000 square meters of greenery in the heart of the city and along the banks of the river. Very popular with joggercyclists, dog owners, but also by those who want to sit under a tree with a book under the illusion of being out of town.
12: the city from above.
Beyond the Valentino, above the Murazzi, a climb starts from the Gran Madre church that leads to Monte dei Cappuccini, which was once a friar’s convent and is now the seat of the National Mountain Museum. From here you can see the city from above. Finally, going down again beyond the Po, in Corso San Maurizio the Fetta di polenta deserves to be seen: it is an interesting trapezoidal-shaped building, designed by Alessandro Antonelli, the same architect of the Mole. From the Via Giulia di Barolo side, one of the sides of the building measures just 54 centimeters.
It is located in Porta Palazzo and was an old fire station. Today it is a hostel with simple but well-kept rooms, which also offers space for coworking and excellent brunches.
It is inside the Casa del Pingone, one of the most fascinating medieval buildings in the city, in via delle Basilica. In addition to various rooms, it has recently been possible to rent an apartment for five people, including a panoramic terrace.
It is in via Mentana, in the Crimea district, one of the most elegant in the city. Although it is only five minutes from the center and the Po, it feels like being in the hills.