Turin. What? The Olympic City

At this point, I think you’ve realized that my blog is not a good study abroad blog. The last few weekends have been busy with trips (and this weekend I go to Paris), so my blogging has been much more sporadic than when I’m at home in the US. To be honest, I probably won’t really blog about a lot of the places I visit at the level I would like to until I get home, but at least it’s something different than reading about the same best coffee shops in Rhode Island and Maine.

IMG_5757That said, today I have a brief post to share about Turin (or Torino in Italian). I went with a trip organized by my program to one of Italy’s largest cities in the Piedmont region. On the way we stopped at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo which is the seat of the Slow Food Movement, and on the way home we stopped in Alba to visit the truffle festival and then go to a wine tasting in Le Langhe, so I’ll have more about those stops coming soon. I was very impressed by Turin, though. It’s about an hour from the French border, and it struck as me as very French in its look. The city has a northern feel as well which I like, a lot of people were outside running, and it’s very scenic. I was also obsessed with the Mole, the big dome in Turin which is featured on the euro two cent coin and is the city’s icon and lit up at night. So, without further ado, here are some of the highlights.

Bicerin on the piazza
Bicerin on the piazza

Bicerin–Padua has caffè pedrocchi, but Turin’s answer is equally potent. In coffee shops throughout Turin, you can order a bicerin which is coffee mixed with cream, hot chocolate, and gianduia liquor. It’s a great drink to warm you up and order frequently. It usually comes expensively, at four euros on average, but if you’re not in Turin that long, you can order it a couple of times without feeling too guilty. There are numerous cafes lining the city’s beautiful Piazza Vittorio Veneto, which overlooks the Po River. Unlike places like Florian’s in Venice, you don’t necessarily get charged through the roof for table service. Pop’s Cafe is a good option as is Caffè Vittorio Veneto which has some outdoor seating. If you’re already paying four euros for this drink, you may as well sit down and consider it a ticket to people watching. If I had more time in Turin, I would definitely make it my mission to find a cheaper and better bicerin, though.

IMG_5793Museo Nazionale di Cinema–Rome may be home to Cinecittà (Italy’s film hub), but Turin has an incredible film museum. The museum is located inside of the city’s Mole, a gigantic, tall, and steep dome. There are a couple of different parts to a visit here: first you go through the archaeology of cinema, learning how it was developed from Chinese shadow box performances to the first film made by the Lumière brothers. This part of the museum is interactive but in a really well done, not cheesy way like some children’s museums are.

The next floor has artifacts from some famous movies, directors, and actors, which are pretty cool. There’s also an atrium which has all these differently themed rooms which were mostly fun but also on the verge of weird (like this random love nest for romance movies…?). In this atrium, though, you see the elevator which ascends to the top of the Mole without an elevator shaft or anything, which is a little spooky. At the end of our visit, we got to ascend this elevator, to the Mole and got fantastic views of the city. The buildings here are predominantly a creamy white color with red roofs, so it’s a gorgeous city to see from up top. The Po River and the nearby mountains also make for a nice landscape. IMG_5811

Gianduia–Finally, Turin has a lot of great chocolate, namely gianduia. Made with hazelnut, gianduia should be savored and tasted frequently. The program director bought a package of gianduiotti, or little gianduia logs, and gave them to us sporadically during the weekend, reminding me of one substitute teacher in high school who would give us Starbursts at the end of every class.

Turin is a really nice city, and I would love to go back. It’s great at night when people take to the piazzas to dance and listen to live music. Piazzas are numerous and public parks beautiful. I wish I’d had more time to spend in the city itself to explore and find some places off the beaten path, but I would say that I had a good introduction (and now a good reason to come back).

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