Turin’s Café Culture

Turin’s Café Culture

Turin has an amazing cafe culture, unlike any other city of Italy. As we walked around the city, these beautiful, historical cafes tempted us to stop and and imagine we were from a different era, one where intellectuals, philosophers, poets and artists would meet and spend time discussing the important issues of the day.

It all started at Caffé Al Bicerin , the oldest cafe in Turin, which opened in 1763. Frequented by Cavour, Dumas and Puccini, Al Bicerin quickly became popular with the aristocracy. It’s position opposite the Sanctuario della Consolata meant that it was popular as place for a quick pick me up after attending Holy Communion.

Caffé Al Bicerin

Outside Caffé al Bicerin

Turin’s famous coffee based drink, the bicerin, was invented here. Expresso is poured into a glass and topped with a layer of rich hot chocolate and cream. Drinking through the different layers, the taste melts into one.

Al Bicerin is a little further out along Via Garibaldi but it is certainly worth a visit to see the small wood panelled room where it all started.

Bicerin at Caffé Al Bicerin

Al Bicerin

 

Our interest was piqued, so we headed towards Piazza San Carlo, one of Turins’ most beautiful squares. It is also known as the drawing room of Turin. At the end of the square are the two churches of Santa Christina and San Carlo.

Piazza San carlo

The twin churches in Piazza San Carlo

 

Beautiful arched porticos surround the square and it is here, amongst the many elegant shops, that we came across some of the more famous cafes.

Porticos surrounding Piazza San Carlo

Porticos surround Piazza San Carlo

 

Caffé Torino was opened in 1903 but moved here in the 1930′s during the rebuilding of the main shopping street, Via Roma. In a room where mirrors reflect the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and historical quotes adorn the walls, the cakes and pastries take second place.

Inside Caffe Torino, Turin

Inside Caffe Torino

 

Like many of the cafes, Caffé Torino is very popular at aperitivo time. From 5.30- 6pm, the price of drinks includes nibbles from the often, over laden buffet bar.

Sitting at one of their outdoor tables, with the the red neon Martini sign flashing above, we enjoy watching the world go by whilst sipping Turin’s famous aperitif, the negroni- a mix of martini rosso, campari and gin.

Caffe Torino, Turin

Caffe Torino

Aperitivo at Caffe Torino

Aperitivo at Cafe Torino

 

 

Confetteria Pasticceria Fratelli Stratta is one of the most famous sweet shops in Turin and Italy. They do not use preservatives in their products, so everything made here is beautifully fresh. The window displays are stunning. With 2011 being the 150th anniversary of the Unification, the Italian colours were everywhere including Stratta’s windows.

Confetteria Pasticceria Fratelli Stratta, Turin

Confetteria Pasticceria Fratelli Stratta

Window celebrating Italy's 150th Anniversary of Unification

Window celebrating Italy

Sweets at Confetteria Pasticceria Fratelli Stratta

Sweets on display

 

We continue walking into Piazza Castello where I find my favourite cafe, Caffé Mulassano.It reminds me of a gentlemen’s club, with its carved wooden interiors and dark colours. Not being a coffee drinker, I can’t vouch for the coffee but I’m told it has the best expresso in town.

Caffe Mulassano, Turin

Caffe Mulassano

 

Caffe Mulassano, Turin

Gelateria next door

 

 

But I keep going back to Guido Gobino a chocolate shop with the reputation as the best chocolate producer in town. I just loved the way they present their bicerins. Did you see the earlier postcard  with the stunning looking summer bicerin served in a test tube.

Inside Guido Gobino's shop in Turin

Inside Guido Gobino

Bicerin at Guido Gobino's shop in Turin

Bicerin at Guido Gobino

 

Whatever you do, don’t leave before buying some of their superb chocolates. It takes a simple chocolate sauce to another level!

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Responses to Turin’s Café Culture

  1. marina December 11, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    I love images of cafes, pastries and coffee so this post has me longing for a good cappucino! (as well as a trip to Italia). I love the image of the neon Martini sign :) And the last image of Bicerin at Guido Gobino -oh wow!

    • atasteoftravel December 12, 2011 at 12:34 am #

      It’s cafe overload in Turin! You can spend a lot of time in the cafes here with pastries and coffee during the day and aperitivo at the end of the day! Gobino’s was fabulous. The summer bicerin in a test tube that is on the link was incredible

      I

  2. Turkey's For Life December 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    That Bicerin looks beautiful – ans does Turin for that matter. Great photos of a place we have still never made it to. The list is never-ending isn’t it? :)
    Julia

    • atasteoftravel December 12, 2011 at 1:11 am #

      Thanks Julia. I agree, the list never ends!! Piedmont is my favourite area of Italy and Turin is a great starting point. There’s so many cafes to try.

  3. Red Nomad OZ December 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    Why have I never heard of the FAAAABULOUS-sounding bicerin before? I guess it hasn’t made it downunder to OZ yet … I’ll be ready and waiting when it does!!

    • atasteoftravel December 12, 2011 at 12:39 am #

      Hi Red. Thanks for coming by and commenting. It’s surprising that no one is making bicerins here. I’m not a coffee drinker but I enjoy a bicerin. It’s probably because of the stunning local chocolate that they use. You might have to go to Italy to try one!!

  4. Debra Kolkka December 12, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    I love Al Bicerin. I have been several times. I have also managed a visit to some of the others you mention. I think Torino is very underrated and should be visited more often. I also love Eataly.

    • atasteoftravel December 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      I’m not sure why Turin is underrated. I love it too and would now always go back before heading into the Piedmont countryside. Eataly was pretty amazing, wasn’t it. I wrote about it a few months ago but am only just getting to the rest of the Turin posts. Helps make the holiday feel as though it is lasting a bit longer!!

  5. Johanna December 12, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Fabulous photos and descriptions. I love the way you bring Italy to life in your blog. Just makes me want to visit so much!

    • atasteoftravel December 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      Thanks Jo for the lovely comment. Let’s hope you get there one day as I know you’ll love it.

  6. Karen (Back Road Journal) December 13, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    We love northern Italy and have been so close but have yet to see Turin. Your photos make it a definite destination on our next trip to Italy.

    • atasteoftravel December 13, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      Hi Karen. I can highly recommend Turin and it’s only an hour away from the fabulous Piemonte countryside. There’s so much to see, isn’t there! Thanks for your comments

  7. mike December 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Wow nice list and lovely pictures.
    Bicerin is great. There is a nice starter list for anyone visiting Italy here -http://thecoffeelocator.com/trending/review/around-italy-in-7-historic-coffee-bars

    • jenny@atasteoftravel December 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      Thanks Mike. Bicerin is a great drink isn’t it. I’ll check out your link…sounds good!

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