Ask a local: what should I do, see, and eat in Torino, Italy?

by Gigi Griffis

Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town.

Heading to Torino (Turin) and wondering what you should do, see, and eat while you’re there? You’re in luck. Today, I’m sharing an interview with local lab tech Ferruccio Pizzolato to give you the inside scoop on the city:

About Ferruccio

Hi! I’m Ferruccio. I’m a 45-year-old native of Torino (born here and lived here all my life). Traveling is a big passion and interest for me. And during the week I work at university as a lab technician.

I recommend at least a five-day holiday in Torino. Spring and early autumn are the best seasons because summer is too hot and winter is too cold.

Torino must-sees for first-time visitors

In my opinion, the most interesting museums are the Egyptian Museum (it’s the second best in the world after the one in Cairo) and Museo del Cinema, (my personal favorite). The Museo del Cinema is inside the Mole Antonelliana, an extremely tall tower (170 meters) that is also the symbol of the city. (I also recommend going up the elevator as high as you can and enjoying the amazing views from the balcony up there.)

Piedmont (Piemonte), the region where Torino is, literally means foothills (ai piedi del monte). The Alps are not that far – you can almost touch them when the sky is clear. On the east side of town, there is a very beautiful hill you can climb.

Palazzo Madama is another place to visit. It was the first senate of the Italian Kingdom. Right next door, you’ll find Palazzo Reale, the royal palace of the House of Savoy.

La Venaria Reale, just outside the city, is another palace that is an absolute must-see. It was renovated a few years ago.

Finally, check out the Museo dell’Automobile and don’t miss the Museo del Risorgimento (National Museum of the Italian Renaissance) or the GAM (modern and contemporary art gallery).

If you want a full list of local museums (we have so many), you can find it here.

Where to stay

Generally, people stay in the center or (for the young or young at heart) San Salvario, an area just a few steps from the center. In the last 10 years, it has gone through a very big and nice renovation. It used to be a rough area (though I’ve never ever had any kind of problems, even when it was considered dangerous), but now it’s so lively with many small restaurants and cafes.

The Quadrilatero Romano (old town) used to be considered a rough area. Just like San Salvario, so many small restaurants and cafes popped up and now it’s rather lively.

Recommended day trips

The surrounding mountains are perfect in winter (for skiing) and summer (for long walks).

Personally, I would absolutely go to Alba, a town almost an hour by car. It’s beautiful. It’s in the Langhe area, which I think is as beautiful as Tuscany. And it’s the capital of Italian food. Plus, the best red wine comes from that area (Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and so on).

What to eat in Torino

Personally, I tend to mix different regional cuisines. My mom is from Taranto (south Italy) and my dad was from Treviso (close to Venice) and I tend to eat a lot of fish and vegetables (which it’s not typical cuisine from here).

That said, the typical Piedmont dishes I adore are agnolotti (roast beef ravioli), tajarin (egg pasta), raw beef (steak tartar with lemon juice and olive oil instead of an egg), and bollito (stew).

These days, what was true 30 years ago about Piedmont cuisine is not true anymore. I thought it was a bit poor (always meat, meat, and meat again), but it’s not like that anymore because our cuisine has been influenced so much by the southern cuisines since there are so many people from the south here. I’d say now it’s a good mix.

Finally, Torino is probably the best in Italy for pasticcini and torte (pastries and cakes). They’re delicious, beautiful, and elegant—a real art.

Where to eat in Torino

Torino has the most interesting and historic cafes of Italy, but I don’t think tourists would be interested in my personal favorites, since they are my favorites because they’re where I meet up with my friends (not because they are particularly charming).

Apart from non-Italian restaurants, my favorite place to eat in Torino is Eataly. It’s an ex-factory where you can buy and eat food. The quality is very good. It was born in Torino eight years ago and has since expanded into Japan, the US, Turkey, etc.

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Why should people make sure to visit Torino?

Torino has always had a low profile. In my opinion, it has been underestimated for too long, even though it’s a beautiful city. It’s a Baroque city (in the center), very interesting, with so much green space and so many parks.

Where to take the best photos

To have a nice view of the city, you better go to the Monte dei Cappuccini, which is just on the other side of the river. From that balcony you have a wonderful view of the whole city and the Alps.

Final notes

You shouldn’t miss the flea markets in town: Balon and Gran Balon.

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