A local guide to Turin: five great things to do | Turin Holidays
Silvia Ceriani lives in Turin and works for the Slow Food movement on events such as Terra Madre, Slow Cheese and the Slow Wine Fair
Nothing in Turin compares to the spectacle organized every Saturday at the Porta Palazzo market. In the main square, outside the two covered markets, there are noisy fishmongers and the cheapest fruit and vegetable stalls. My advice is to forget about the modern Mercato Centrale – rather it’s a fake food court trying to look like Barcelona’s famous Boqueria – and head to the Antica Tettoia dell’Orologio, perfect for cheeses, salami and even white truffles. Then continue your way back to the open-air farmer’s market, where contadini sell amazing vegetables and wild herbs.
Turin is great for discovering Piedmontese cuisine. My two favorite restaurants are in the center. Consorzio is for lovers of adventurous offal: sweetbread and roasted heart with cherries and wild herbs, and ravioli filled with the Turin classic finanziera – a sweet and sour stew that includes veal brains and rooster ridges among other spooky ingredients.
Vegetarians don’t have to despair though – at Antonio Chiodi Latini, the chef cooks sublimely creative vegan dishes: even the simplest dish, insalata mista, is an extraordinary blend of ingredients, colors and aromas.
Turin has many green spaces, from huge parks to romantic squares. But during the closures I found a marked walk from the Isabella Bridge over the Po, following Corso Moncalieri on the right bank to Parco Leopardi, then winding to the Faro della Vittoria – a bronze statue in the highest point. The views over Turin are magnificent. The statue is a World War I memorial and the path is lined with tributes to fallen soldiers. I found that quite moving during the Covid period.
Far from the crowds visiting our most famous cultural sites – the Egyptian Museum and the OGR avant-garde arts center – my place of inspiration is the Museo dell’Uomo on Corso Massimo d’Azeglio. They are in fact three 19th century museums in a huge palace, dedicated respectively to the strange and wonderful worlds of human anatomy, criminal anthropology and exotic wax fruits. They immerse me in the atmosphere of 19th century Turin – a dark and macabre city of fanatic collectors, and a perfect contrast to the outside world, where everyone is glued to their smartphone.
To get a feel for Turin’s unique industrial history – we were the Strait of Italy – take the metro to Lingotto. It is 10 minutes from the awe-inspiring city center, but feels like another world, created around factories from the turn of the 20th century. The old Fiat factory which gives its name to the district is forging a new identity, with the art gallery of the Agnelli collection, and its mythical roof – a colossal circuit where cars were tested – is about to open to the public, filled with flowers, plants and herbs. The factory that once made Carpano vermouth is now home to Eataly, which showcases Slow Food products, and next door is the recently opened Green Pea, a futuristic and 100% sustainable shopping center. Lingotto is quiet at night, but don’t miss a cocktail at my favorite bar, the totally kitsch bar Il Coguaro (Cougar).
Turin is the homeland of the aperitif. Unfortunately, this has turned into a tendency to aperitif (formed by adding cena – dinner – as an aperitif), where the price of the drink is around € 10, accompanied by a buffet of pasta, salads and pizza. Sounds good but I avoid it as the quality of the food is poor, and not even that cheap that you inevitably order a second drink. Better yet, a real bar with great music like Lanificio San Salvatore, where they make their own vermouth – a big trend here – inspired by a recipe invented in India by an eccentric 19th-century Piedmontese entrepreneur.
Near the Porta Palazzo market, the trendy rooms of the 1820 San Giors hotel (doubles from € 84 room only) are all decorated by local artists.