One day in Turin

20 Feb 2016

Turin is “one of Italy's great cities”, says The Independent - and rightly so. Founded by the Romans as Augusta Taurinorum, Turin has now grown into the fourth-largest city in Italy, and is perhaps best known for its motor industry and chocolate.

Here’s how we’d spend a day exploring Turin’s highlights…

Morning

Start your visit with one of the city’s best-kept secrets - the Pietro Micca museum (via Guicciardini 7a). This tiny museum tells the story of the siege of Turin in 1706 and the sacrifice of Pietro Micca - a national hero, who died blowing up the city’s defensive tunnels to halt the advance of the invading Franco-Spanish army. The museum is open from 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Sunday; entry 3€.

Guided tours of the original siege tunnels beneath the city are available at 10:30am, 2:30pm and 4:30pm from Tuesday-Sunday, and also at 3:30pm on Sunday. We advise contacting the museum in advance if you require a tour in English.

Refuel at the Caffè Al Bicerin (Piazza della Consolata 5), supposedly the first place to serve the city’s famous bicerin - an indulgent drink made from coffee, chocolate and hot milk. The café dates from 1763 and still looks the part, with marble tables and polished wood fittings.

Lunch

Sfashion (Via Cesare Battisti 13), owned by TV presenter Piero Chiambretti, is one of the best places to go in Turin for Neapolitan-style pizza. Service can be a bit gruff, but the rustic pizzas “fly like hot bullets from the ovens” (Lonely Planet). Grab a seat on the terrace overlooking the square, where the city’s chic lunch at the weekend, or sit in the very kitsch dining room. Prices are surprisingly affordable, especially if you stick to the set lunch menus.

 

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Afternoon

Fresh from a 50€-million, 5-year renovation, the Museo Egizio (Via Accademia delle Scienze 6) is a must-see for any visitor to Turin. This enormous museum is home to one of the world’s foremost collections of Egyptian artefacts and papyri, including treasures from the Tomb of Kha. Open from 9am-6:30pm, Tuesday-Sunday (closed from 2pm on Monday); entry charge 13€.

There are two top-notch ice cream shops nearby: Grom (Via Accademia delle Scienze 4), a famous Italian chain that originated in Turin in 2003, and Gelateria Pepino (Piazza Carignano 8), which has been a Turinese institution since 1884 - order a cone or a Pinguino (chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick) from the window on the corner for a cheaper takeaway.

 

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Apericena

Literally meaning “to open” (aperire) + “dinner” (cena), apericena is a hearty form of free nibbles served alongside pre-dinner drinks. The custom is said to have been invented in Turin by Antonio Benedetto Carpano to complement his vermouth business. Nowadays, you can stick with the traditional vermouth, or opt for cocktails, wine or beer. La Drogheria (Piazza Vittorio Veneto 18/d) is a trendy option on the Piazza Vittorio Veneto, one of Turin’s fanciest (and largest) squares. Here you can feast on an entire buffet of bite-sized treats when you buy a drink from 6pm-10pm (minimum spend 9€).

 

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Alternatively, head to San Salvario, the city’s going-out district, where you’ll find a bar offering apericena from around 6pm until 8-10pm on almost every corner.

Dinner

A handy spot for dinner is Eataly, on the pedestrianised Via Accademia delle Scienze. The original high-end food mall, started by Oscar Farinetti in 2007, is in an old vermouth factory outside the city, but this mini outpost is still well worth a visit for comforting pasta. There’s a café and a wine bar on site too. It is also a good place to buy souvenirs, such as hazelnut-flavoured gianduioitti chocolates and tartufini (pistachios, hazelnut paste or orange sweets). For something fancier, try one of Turin’s five Michelin-starred restaurants: Magorabin, Vo, Vintage 1997, Casa Vicina-Eataly Lingotto or Del Cambio (below).

Other options

National Automobile Museum: This “whizzy, innovative” (Frommer’s) museum is based at the old Fiat factory on the outskirts of Turin, bear the Lingotto metro station. The 12€ entry fee includes access to a collection of 200+ cars. Closed from 2pm Monday until 2pm Tuesday.

Turin Shroud: Learn about Turin’s most disputed progeny at the Museo della Sindone (Via San Domenico 28). The shroud itself is not on show, but you can examine a replica and learn about its religious and historical context. Closed 12-3pm daily.

Mole Antonelliana: This 167-metre tower is one of Turin’s most famous landmarks. Originally conceived in the 1800s as a synagogue, it now hosts the National Cinema Museum. Visit the exhibits (10€) or take a glass elevator to the top (7€). Closed Tuesday.

Parco del Valentino: Set alongside the River Po, this 200-acre park boasts a 16th-century castle and a reconstructed medieval village.

Getting to Turin

From the UK, there are flights to Turin from Gatwick Airport with easyJet and British Airways, and from Stansted Airport with Ryanair.

Turin Airport is 20 minutes by taxi from the city centre. Alternatively, you can take the SADEM bus to Porta Nuova station (50 minutes) or board the train to Stazione Dora (20 minutes), which is 15 minutes’ walk or 20 minutes by bus from the city centre.

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