Writing about my sunny days in Torino while it’s raining in Tbilisi is just perfect. If I were in Piedmont’s capital now, I’d go to Mulassano, order a portion of bicherin to drink it atthe bar counter, and watch people passing by at Piazza Castello…
Ehehe, here comes the “I’ve-Been-There-And-Know-Something-You-Don’t”-tone,right? What the heck is bicerin (a medicine against bitch talks?), why not to sit down and relax, but drink at the counter? Okay. I will explain. But first of all I should say that Torino is a magical city, even without mentioning that it was a center of black and white magic, has a fallen angel statue at one of the central squares and so on. It is tailored in a very elegant manner, consists of porticos and arcades, baroque and art nouveau, book stores and chocolate shops, and remains an important trade and industrial center at the same time. As a person from an industrial town, I appreciate this combination of exquisiteness and working class simplicity.
Torino is sooo bully! I mean, there are a lot of bulls at the streets, because it is symbol of the city. You can find them everywhere: from drinking water fountains to the logos of FC Torino and Juventus, who are also kinda city symbols.
Torino was the first capital of united Italy, where some glorious historic events were happening, but to my big enlightenment, it is not that crowded (hurra, no people waving selfie-sticks next to the Royal Palace!). Founded in 1404, the University of Torino is one of the oldest and respectable in Europe. There is a huge street named after USSR – Corso Unione Sovietica – what I found quite weird. It was a present to the Victory in WWII.
And another cool thing about Torino is that here lives Gianluca, a friend of mine. We met in 2010 in Izmir during my internship there, and haven’t seen each other since that time. He appeared to be such a great guide, that now his face is the face of the city for me (before it used to be Gianluigi Buffon, you may guess, why). Gianluca is from Piedmont, so he knows local peculiarities, what is extremely good for such a curious guest as me, and also he drives a motorbike, which allowed us to see a lot of thing in a very short time. Isn’t it a big luck?
Now let’s go back to bicerin and bar counter. Before I was pretty ignorant about this unwritten rule of paying more, if you drink at the table. That’s why the locals prefer to finish their espresso and other short drinks just standing at the counter. Bicerin, a sweet energy bomb full of calories, made of espresso, dark chocolate and cream, belongs to this group. Its name derives from the type of glass it is served in (same story as paella or wok). One of the most famous bicerin drinkers was Cavour, a person who made a lot for the united Italy. Maybe that was the reason why he was quite a corpulent man and had energy for all the transformations he has done?
In Torino, there are several must-visit-and-have-a-drink places – just to feel the spirit of city (btw, to this spirit in a good mood, don’t drink water after espresso and cappuccino in the afternoon). One of those places is Fiorio (via Po 8) founded in the beginning of XVIII century. It is usually attended by locals, but I saw it in every second tourist reference about Torino as well. The story about King of Piedmont regularly inquiring about the topics Fiorio’s attendees were discussing in the café, is still alive.
If you want to taste one of the best bicerin in Torino, better go not to Al Bicerin, which is also a must-visit place, according to multiple reviews, but to Mulassano, that I mentioned in the very beginning. Located near Piazza Castello (the square in front of the Royal Palace) since 1907, it used to be a meeting point for bohemian people. Mulassano employees are also proud by the fact that typical Italian sandwich, tramezzino, was served in their café for the first time.
In order to temporary close the food topic, I’d mention that not far from these two places, at Via Maria Vittoria 36, a Piadineria Romagnola is located. There you should try piadina, thin bread with various fillings. Being not a local fast food, it is still very tasty.
Generally, if there is nothing but food in a city, I am not very interested. Overdose of beauty is even worse (sorry, Rome, sorry, Dresden). If there is a nice TV-tower or just a tower, the city gains +1 to attractiveness in my eyes. Add mountains to this – and poor city, on the whole Earth there no place to hide from my love. That’s how I settled in Tbilisi (unfortunately Berlin was a bit too flat for me), and that’s the way I fell in love with Torino. Framed by Alps, offering tasty local food (btw, as non-meat-eater I was pretty satisfied) as well as bars and culture, inhabited by non-snobbish and non-über-hipster people, Piedmont’s capital has great football scene and even birch trees for me. And Mole. Mole Antonelliana.
Actually it should have been a synagogue, but the Jewish community didn’t like the work of Alessandro Antonelli that much, so the architect said: OK THEN! – and built this 168 m tall beauty, which became another symbol of the city. Gianluca meant, it should have remained the tallest building, but Mussolini wanted to show how great he was, and ordered to build this.
Now, there is a huge interactive Museum of Cinema inside Mole. You can spend the whole day there, learning new things about history of cinematography from different optic machines up to modern 3D-technologies in a very empiric way, or just lie down and watch some old movies in a huge hall. There is also an elevator which brings you to Mole’s dome. The entrance price depends on what you want: museum, dome, or both. You can check out the best option here:http://www.museocinema.it/orari.php?l=en.
The second awesome interactive museum we have visited was Museum of Cars. Of course, Torino is famous for its Egyptology: the collection of its Egyptian Museum is second largest after Cairo Museum, but still, after riding a motorbike in cradle of FIAT, attending the Museum of Cars was a very logical step. Please be aware of the fact that its opening hours differ from the other museums (http://www.museoauto.it/website/en/opening-times-and-ticket-prices)!
You know, I liked the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart very much, but this one was even better. From ambitious Da Vinci projects to latest Ferrari models, ad videos about cars from 20s to modern times – three floors of exciting things + very good music in every hall. It appeared that not every object can be touched – we discovered it after sitting in Ferrari, but the museum keeper was lucky to see us just touching the handle of the car 😀
There was another museum, some superstitions, some more food, and local craft beer, and one mysterious place where the drink from hell is being served, and some other important and beautiful places, but I think it’s quite enough for one post. Even though it’s about Torino. Here are a couple of pictures, and the part 2 is coming soon! Stay tuned, it will be interesting!
By the way, Cavour also liked this place, but we decided not to eat there: prices were also at the level Cavour could have afforded 😀