Where the locals go in Turin
Did you know that Turin was the Kingdom of Italy’s first capital? Torino, the capital of Piedmont, or Piemonte, is in the mountains in the foot of the Alps, and is traditionally one of Italy’s richest, and most industry-oriented, cities. Fascinating though it may be to visit the dazzling palaces and portici, there is a lot to explore in this jewel of the North that’s easy to miss. These tips by Turin locals will inspire you along the way.
Visit the definition of neighborhood ‘piola’
“Fancy a trendy spot with glamorous cocktails? A hub of glittering, shiny people talking about start-ups and Bionade? Well, in that case… please go somewhere else. The coolness of this hidden gem is about not being cool at all!” We couldn’t have put what makes Bar Pietro special better than local Marco. It’s a genuine bar from the ‘60s in this still ungentrified part of town, a real piola di quartiere, where everyday life just happens and locals meet casually. Don’t forget to get a Venetian-inspired spritz at the bar!
A tribute to Italy’s film legacy
Turin was the birthplace of Italian cinema, even before the turn of the 20th century. As such, today it bears an important legacy. CINEfolies pays tribute to this history. Stroll by shelves packed with silver-screen merchandise – actor and director biographies, posters, coffee table monographs – and of course the films themselves: from erotic movies from the ‘70s, to Dolce Vita-style comedies and beyond. The Italian cinema lover in your life will adore you for buying them a souvenir here.
A coffee lab
Do you know where espresso was born? That’s right! The first (prototypical) espresso machine was patented by the Torinese Angelo Moriondo in 1884. Today, of course, you wouldn’t exactly call great coffee a rarity, but Orso will give you the air of an old-fashioned bistro, together with the hospitality of the owner, Giulio, who will guide you. When you finish your cup, you’ll find a number at the bottom – check out what it means on the board. Oh, and never put sugar in your coffee!
A dazzling campus
University of Turin’s Campus Luigi Einaudi hosts its Cultures, Politics & Society, Economics & Statistics, and Law departments. It was built in a formerly industrial area and has given new breath to the area once dominated by Italgas. Its landmark roof can be spotted from anywhere high enough in the city. Getting there by bike along the riverside, chilling in the courtyard, mingling with the students and playing some table-tennis on the free-to-use table will become a highlight of your stay.
Nightlife on the river
Murazzi is the embankment of Po, Turin’s main river. This part of town used to be inhabited just by rats, boats and rowing clubs. Now you can find the legendary cultural (night) club Magazzino sul Po, where you can find anything from dance nights to theater and poetry events; and Les Arcades, more widely known among locals as Tamango after its strong cocktail recipe which has remained a secret for years. Warning: this drink should not be abused, but used wisely…
Have you tried farinata?
Cecchi is a small, cozy, family-run pizzeria in Borgo Campidoglio. Their menu is extremely simple: you can have farinata (a kind of chickpea flour tart that’s typical for Liguria to the south, but also popular here), the local pizza al tergamino (small individually served pizzas in round trays) and ice cream – that’s it! The farinata they make here is especially delicious (“cripsy and super-soft on the inside!”) and the pizza is more like a side dish. Bonus: the ice cream is homemade in the ice cream maker visible at the storefront.
A post-industrial playground
Aurelio Peccei Park lies between the historical suburban neighborhoods of Barriera di Milano and Borgo Vittoria. Not so long ago, this area was cut across by railway lines and littered with disused Fiat Iveco plants. Now the railway has gone underground and the factories have been properly restored into artifacts of industrial archaeology. Isolated from high-traffic roads, the park is colorful and alive and attracts youngsters at night as well as families during the day.
Best vegan food in the center
Bontà e Sapore is for all vegans out there or anyone who loves vegan food. Conveniently located in the center, it’s a tiny, “hippie”, inexpensive vegan bistro run by an all-female crew. When you arrive, they’ll give you the daily menu and you have to write your pick down. The veggie kebab and vegan parmigiana are some of their absolute hits. Be careful: if you arrive after 12:30, you might not find a table, so plan ahead!
For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.
Header image by: Hpnx9420 (CC BY 3.0)