Turin, Italy

Food, Art and History and the Holidays

If there was ever to be an unforgettable trip to Italy, Torino, Turin in Northern Italy is it. Turin must be one of Italy’s most unsung cities. While most travelers to Italy head to the triptych Rome-Florence-Venice, Turin remains off the tourist radar. It was off my radar, but as a designer of custom travel, I decided to include it in my own itinerary. It is here that Agnelli, the founder of Fiat, chose to build his automobile empire that is quite evident on every street in all of Italy! Eight decades earlier, a royal dynasty chose Turin as its capital. The city became a favorite among intellectuals and artists, such as Nietzsche who liked the city for its austere elegance, atmosphere, literary cafés, and food. Here are just some reasons why this bubbling and inspiring city should definitely be on your Italy bucket list and with the holiday season right around the corner there is no better time to visit.20131116_09

While Rome is associated with antiquity and Florence with the Renaissance, Turin is Italy’s regal city and lays claim to being the first capital of unified Italy when the Kingdom of Italy was founded in 1861. It is also the birth town of the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy. Nearly all of Italy’s history leading to the unification was centralized in Turin and its grandeur can be witnessed all over the city: in the Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Madama, Palazzo Carignano, the large, majestic boulevards and the arcaded shopping streets, and in La Venaria, Turin’s equivalent of Versailles which is often referred to as the Paris of Italy.

The city has the largest number of cafés per capita, many of which are historic cafés. About every second or third house on Via Po, Turin’s famous promenade, is a café, confectionery or pasticceria. By visiting this inspiring city you can soak up the revolutionary and literary atmosphere of the 19th Century and you are most likely stepping foot into the same places as Nietzsche, Alexandre Dumas, Puccini, Rossini, Cavour and Cesare Pavese.

For the love of chocolate – Turin is Italy’s capital of chocolate such as the famous gianduja, a hazelnut and chocolate paste at the origin of Nutella, and the gianduiotti were created here along with the bicerin, a favorite drink among Italian and European aristocracy made of espresso coffee, chocolate and whip cream. Molto Buono! Anyone lucky enough to be in Turin from the end of November through the beginning of December can be a part of CioccolaTo, a 10-day-long chocolate fair, a must-attend rendezvous for chocoholics from around the world!

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If sweets aren’t your thing, than the aperitif just may be. It is in Turin that the concept of aperitivo was born. After work, people gather on the delightfully busy terraces of the cafés, chatting and enjoying a “slow drink” with tasteful toasts and appetizers. Just keep in mind that Italians usually have dinner right after. For what seemed totally impossible, we did just as the Italians do! Mangia!

As one of the food capitals of Italy, Turin is also renowned for its culinary scene with a wide range of Piemontese and Savoyard delicacies, among which is the white truffle served with pasta (the local tajarin) or risotto. Gnocchi and agnolottiare are other types of popular local pasta that can be served with Alp cheese or mushrooms. Famous main dishes include the bollito misto, bagna càuda and fritto misto. What is food without vino? Nothing. So make sure to order a bottle or two or three of Barolo, Barbera, Barbaresco and Nebbiolo for the reds and Arneis, Gavi and Favorita for the whites.

And long before Bollywood in India and Nollywood in Nigeria, there was Tollywood in Turin – the city where Italian cinema was born at the beginning of the 1900’s. The National Cinema Museum is spectacular, unique and the only one of its kind in the world, that traces the history of seventh century art from its early beginnings. Housed in the city’s iconic building, the Mole Antonelliana, the National Cinema Museum is also the world’s tallest museum. Add the yearly Torino Film Festival, Italy’s most important film festival after Venice, and you’ll get a hint of why the city is nicknamed ‘Tollywood’.

To pair along with the city’s amazing film presence, Turin also boasts a number of modern and contemporary art museums. The largest Egyptian museum after Cairo is here with the most complete Egyptian ‘death books’ in the world. Perhaps the most valuable historic pieces and religious relic, the famous shroud of Turin, as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s self-portrait and his Codex on the Flight, are also located in Torino. The city is also known to detain the key to deciphering Nostradamus prophecies, as well as the Holy Grail, the chalice from which Jesus drank during the last supper. The first one is said to be now safely guarded ‘somewhere’ in Turin as part of a private collection, while the latter is believed to be buried in the Church of the Great Mother of God.

Italy in December is the time for kids, Christmas markets, opera and motor shows. It is also a time when the entire country transforms its streets and shops with wonderful Christmas decorations, making the city one of the best places for lights. Over 20 kilometers of streets and squares are illuminated by some of the best illumination artists in Europe from late November through early January. Despite the cold weather, people are out and about enjoying the festivities and celebrations, roasted chestnuts being offered as street food, or hunkering down in the far north with a glass of gluwein.

Pair Torino up with some skiing in the French Alps, only 1 hour away, and your holidays will never be the same. Please join us at our office for a small group tour presentation. For more information or to book your exciting trip to Italy, please call Lisa Crawford, Founder and CEO of SitInMySeats VIP Tickets, Travel & Concierge Services at 954-456-0419 or email her at lisa@sitinmyseats.com.  Please visit www.sitinmyseats.com for all your VIP Ticket and Travel needs.