A day in Turin at markets and trattorias

Turin, view from Mole Antonelliana

Turin, view from Mole Antonelliana

What’s the best way to get to know Turin? Get up early and go up the Mole Antonelliana in its glass lift to get a 360 degree view of the city, its porticos, squares, hilly quarters beyond the Po river and the mountains in the distance. The Mole is 167 metres high and was built in the nineteenth century. It now contains the National Cinema Museum.

When you come down again leave the city centre with its squares and porticos behind a moment and head for Piazza della Repubblica and Porta Palazzo, the southern Italian and multi-ethnic heart of Turin, with the biggest open air market in Europe, a cacophony of sounds, aromas, noises and voices mixing together Piedmontese, Arabic and Sicilian. It’s the perfect place for a bit of shopping but also for taking in everything that doesn’t fit in to the traditional stereotype of a reserved and disciplined Turin.

Turin, Via Borgo Dora

Turin, Via Borgo Dora

Just past Porta Palazzo you get to Borgo Dora, Turin’s public housing quarter, where the Balon craft market is held every Saturday. Second hand books, furniture, bicycles and much more. The people here too are from just about everywhere. Immigration from southern Italy was followed by North African immigration and there are now Arab restaurants next door to Piedmont trattorias creating a lively multi-ethnic, buzzing atmosphere. You should stop for lunch in Via Borgo Dora at Trattoria Valenza for a yesteryear atmosphere with affordable food and wine and straightforward, tasty dishes such as polenta and stew or pasta and beans.

Turin, Palazzo Reale

Turin, Palazzo Reale

Now that we’ve got a feel for one of Turin’s many working class districts, let’s go back to the centre and devote an afternoon to getting to know Turin’s neoclassical, baroque and unification era centre. Turin was Italy’s first capital city and its porticos mean you can walk around on a rainy day for hours without ever putting up your umbrella. Piazza Castello, Via Roma, Piazza San Carlo, Piazza Vittorio, Piazza Carignano, the Egyptian Museum, the Risorgimento Museum. It is Turin’s living room, a place of museums and historic buildings, cafés and cake shops.

Turin, Ristorante Tre Galline

Turin, Ristorante Tre Galline

And when you’re ready for a drink wander over to the Quadrilatero Romano, now the place to be in Turin with everything from Barbera wine to mojitos on offer. As well as the recently opened bars and cafés, which have made this once decaying area into one of the youngest and most vibrant of Turin, there are also more traditional restaurants and trattorias. The Tre Galline restaurant, for example, is one of the best for Piedmontese cuisine, an ideal place for a culinary experience based on Piedmont steak tartare, agnolotti filled pasta and mixed boiled meats with a wide range of Piedmontese wines.

Where to sleep in Turin. To make sure you get a good night’s sleep after a busy day in Turin, let’s have a look at some hotels. The most attractive is definitely Hotel Santo Stefano with its excellent position, wellness centre, panoramic terrace and original and elegant design.