Monday, 7 August 2017

Destination Turin, Italy



Staunchly proud of its past, glowingly happy with today and revving ahead to tomorrow, Turin is as invigorating as a glass of Italy’s finest sparkling wine. 

When you think of this city what usually springs to mind is the Shroud of Turin, Fiat cars, Juventus Football Club and perhaps vermouth. An image of being an industrial, dull town did nothing to entice tourists. Maybe it was like that once. But today Italy’s fourth-largest city is one of the country's most spectacular jewels to have come out of hiding. 



Turin
Courtesy of British Airways



Sitting on the River Po, flanked by the Alps, Turin is swathed in elegance and beauty. Lashings of culture and history, accompanied by exceptional food and wine as well as superb shopping, this suave and dignified city has it all. 

In 1861, the various states that made up the Italian peninsula united and became one nation, Italy. Torino (the Italian name for the city) was pronounced the capital. It held the title for four years. Torino’s response on losing its status was to promote industrial development. It is that fighting spirit to keep reinventing itself that is so evident in this city that was once the stamping ground for Nostradamus and the seat of the Savoy royals. 



Turin
Courtesy of British Airways


Turin went through trying times in the 1980s and the decades that followed. The city had once again to think about where it was heading. The 2006 Winter Olympics was the catalyst that ignited its rebirth. Its industrious spirit yet again came shining through. Now contemporary art and architecture fuse harmoniously with the old and regal in this ever-evolving city.

Thanks to the Romans who planned the orderly street grid, walking round the city’s wide avenues, grand squares and 11 miles of arcades is a delight. If only they were around to plan today’s large towns life would be so much easier.

I started my day exploring the beautiful Baroque squares and royal palaces. The Piazza Castello is home to the first Italian parliament, Palazzo Madama, now a museum, and the Savoys’ grand Palazzo Reale. While Piazza San Carlo, Turin’s beating heart, is fringed with beautiful Baroque buildings watched over by the statue of Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Savoy on his horse. In the distance I could see the Mole Antonelliana, the revered symbol of the city.



Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Savoy on his horse



The Turin Shroud is obviously a crowd-puller but it is rarely seen in public. You can generally only see a replica but it is worthwhile dropping in at the Turin Cathedral as it is a stunning piece of Renaissance architecture.

For a taste of the exotic you may want to visit the Egyptian Museum, which dates back to 1824. Other than the Cairo Museum, it is the only one that is dedicated solely to Egyptian art and culture.

After indulging on royal palaces, churches and museums it was time to walk along the city’s imposing boulevards and sample its café culture. Lavazza coffee hails from here.

Chocolate has been top of the league in Turin for hundreds of years. (Nutella is from the region.) The magical arcaded-shopping streets are overflowing with palatial 19th-century cafés. You have to stop to soak up the atmosphere and have a bicerin, a delicious concoction of cocoa, coffee and cream. 

Gianduiotti are hard to resist. These lovely inverted boat-shape treats are made, as they have been for hundreds of years, by grinding Piedmont hazelnuts into a paste and combining them with chocolate.

After a stroll along the river, it was time for an aperitif which I was told was a ritual in this town. Italy’s Piedmont region, of which Turin is the capital, produces some wonderful wines. The barolos and barbarescos are regarded as some of Italy’s best. Cinzano and Martini & Rossi hail from here. As you would expect vermouth is a key ingredient of cocktails. I headed to Casa del Barolo, a lovely intimate wine bar where the customers are as friendly as the staff.

All drinks come with mouth-watering savoury appetizers, a norm in this town. A classic dish from this region to try is vitello tonnato, cold thinly sliced veal covered with a creamy tuna-flavoured mayonnaise. 

Your taste buds will definitely go on a culinary journey in Turin. The city is littered with superb restaurants. This is the place that gave birth to the Slow Food movement. Its aim is to preserve traditional, regional cuisine using fresh produce from local producers. 

Before I left there was time to fit in some shopping. You will find the ubiquitous brands but there are plenty of gorgeous rather chic boutiques to lure you in.

Turin engages you from the moment you arrive and makes you feel immediately at home. This city really does have it all.

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there 

British Airways flies from London City to Milan Linate up to twice a day during the week with one flight on Saturdays and Sundays

Advance purchase each way. Basic fares are available from £47 and are available to book on www.ba.com/londoncity

(In addition BA has services from Heathrow with connections also available from across the UK and Ireland.)

Club Europe fares include a generous baggage allowance, complimentary refreshments and drinks on board and no debit card charges

Customers have a quick and easy journey through the Docklands airport, with hand baggage it takes just 15 minutes to get from kerbside to airside. (It did not take me much longer to get airside despite having luggage to check in.)

I combined a stay in Turin with one in Milan



Rooftop terrace, Turin Palace


Stay at the Turin Palace (spacehotels.it)

A perfect combination of old and new, this gorgeous hotel, housed in a 19th-century building, is warm and welcoming. Rooms are decorated in shades of pink and cream with grey and burgundy upholstery, set off with black-lacquered wood furniture. The Art Deco bathrooms are lovely and spacious.

Soft drinks from the minibar are complimentary. The buffet breakfast is a good spread. The hotel’s star attraction is the rooftop terrace where you can relax with a drink and take in views of the city. The hotel’s restaurant puts its own creative spin on Piedmontese dishes. Situated opposite Porta Nuova, the city’s main railway station it is only a five-minute walk from the city centre.

The Turin Palace is part of Space Hotels, an Italian independent hotel company. To find more information click here spacehotels.it/en

For more information about Italy visit italia.it/en




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