Go to Torino. If the autumn leaves and the Mole and the Superga haven’t convinced you; the French-style parks and buildings, the cafe culture, and the museums haven’t whipped up your curiosity into a frenzy; the amazing food, the decent public transport, and the general lack of visitors; if all of those amazing things haven’t compelled you this second to make a plan, pick a date, book a flight, and go, then I am nearly at a loss save for the last few tricks up my sleeve: chocolate and cars.
First the cars:
FIAT was founded in Turin (the T at the end actually stands for Torino) and therefore the city has a long-standing role in Italy’s auto-industry. As such, you can visit the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile (National Museum of the Automobile) in an easily accessible suburb of Torino called the Lingotto. Lingotto was where the FIAT factory was located, and Fiat actually built up a lot of the neighborhood to be housing for their workers. The old FIAT factory is now a mall, which was the first mall I’ve ever been to in Italy, and represented a strange juxtaposition of a place that was once built and used for production being wholly turned over to consumption, but I digress. The very first Eataly is also in the Lingotto neighborhood as well, but I digress further, so BACK TO THE CARS.
The museum was quite expansive in displaying the history and development of the automobile. While the focus was, justifiably, on Italy, there was a broad scope to its collection, including this not ugly car:
And while some of the displays veered into the strange, including a set-up of a house made entirely from car related objects and memorabilia in a section dedicated to car obsessions, the museum was definitely worth our time and money on that particularly rainy afternoon.
Another thing worth your time and money in Torino? Chocolate, specifically a bicerin. A bicerin is a coffee/hot chocolate/slightly whipped cream concoction that is delicious and amazing and reason enough to go to Torino just on its own. It was developed here:
At the eponymous Caffè al Bicerin in the 18th century, and it is quite possibly the best coffee-drink I have ever had, ever. We had them at the Caffè al Bicerin and also at the Mulassano (which was the cafe I showed you a picture of the other day), and while they weren’t exactly the same at both institutions, they were both delicious. At Al Bicerin, they are served in little wine glasses and you can see a gradient of color blocking between the dark coffee, the lighter chocolate, and the light, light cream. I was too gluttonous to take a photo of our drinks before we downed them, but here you can see the lovely, simple interior of the cafe (which was opened in 1763!):
and our glasses, which we had nearly licked clean. While the Bicerin might be a bit spendy for a daily coffee (they were 5 euro a dance), if I lived in Turin I would have to fight the urge to get one every morning. But the Bicerin is not the only chocolate in the city of course. There are dedicated chocolatiers sprinkled throughout the center including Guido Gobino:
We just dropped in while killing a bit of time before our dinner reservation and the interior was like a jewel-box, packed with truffles and teeny candies in glass displays all perfect and beautiful, and the guy working behind the counter was so nice. It was only about half-an-hour before they were to close and we were the only customers in the store. I just wanted one little truffle (and they were teeny, about the size of my thumbnail), and when I only ordered one, the clerk let me have it for free. Maybe they have a free-tasting policy, I don’t know, but that little act of generosity seems to sum-up Torino as a whole for me: unexpected and wonderful.
Go to Torino! and happy weekend!