A winter weekend in Turin

This past weekend we spent a couple of gloriously crisp, sunny winter days with my mother in law, our girls and even the puppy(!) around the elegant northern Italian city of Turin, showing them some favourite old places that we love, while discovering some new spots to add to the list. It was a little harder to do everything that we’ve done on past trips (which, truth be told, involved mainly eating and drinking as I was researching for my third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, where I dedicated an entire chapter to the food and drink of Turin), catering to everyone’s needs but I can say that in Turin there is something for everyone and it was a fantastic city break for the family.

My mother in law’s father was from Turin and I wanted her to experience the city that her father loved and talked about so much so we ate at very typical Piemontese restaurants (things that you’ll find in Tortellini at Midnight like classic vitello tonnato, agnolotti al plin, brasato al barolo and more) and enjoyed aperitivo in one of the classic piazze in the centre of town; Torino is the city that invented aperitivo, after all. I ate agnolotti in every restaurant we went to, you’ll see my favourite in the list below.

One of the things that helped taking the children (4 and 10) around in particular was staying right in the centre of town; we rented an airbnb just two steps from Piazza Castello and around the corner from the Mole Antonelliana, which meant everything was within easy walking distance.

Here’s the Turin List from a trip back in 2015 for Corriere della Sera that I can still vouch for — many of these are oldies that we love returning to over and over again (in particular Caffe Mulassano, Caffe Bicerin and Consorzio, which go without saying you must visit).

Here are the other things we loved on this trip too:


Lunch at Porto di Savona. An old school restaurant filled with atmosphere in Piazza Vittorio Veneto where you can find all the classic Turin dishes. Very good tartare (with hazelnut and creamy caprino cheese), housemade pasta and desserts: a cloud-like hazelnut cake, a very good tiramisu (their specialty) and pannacotta (see photo below) with the perfect wobble. Like all good and popular places to eat, book in advance!

The Mole Antonelliana is the striking tower that you see in Turin’s skyline. It houses the museum of cinema and an entirely glass elevator that takes you up to the top of the tower for a 360° view.

A new one for me but definitely my favourite restaurant of this trip: Scannabue in the cute San Salvario neighbourhood. The menu is a mix of super traditional and modern offerings — the agnolotti al plin were divine (see photo below), the best of the trip, and the most delicious, delicate gnocchi in creamy Castelmagno sauce (which are also known as ravioles di melle or gnocchi delle Val Varaita but are unlike any ravioli or gnocchi you’ve seen elsewhere and are made mostly of toma, the local cheese). The girls appreciated the well made club sandwich and hamburger, while sommelier hubby was impressed with the wine list.

Farmacia del Cambio: If you’re going to sit out in a piazza and partake of aperitivo like a good Torinese then this is one elegant spot to do it, the bar of the more famous restaurant Ristorante del Cambio, which has been functioning since the 1700s. Lovely spot for a bicerin (coffee, chocolate and cream, see photo below) on a sunny morning, or aperitivo in the evening with some tramezzini (finger sandwiches).

Two steps from the Farmacia del Cambio is a gorgeous old English language bookshop that I always stop in at, Luxemburg. We spent quite a bit of time here as it’s such a special thing for us to get to browse so many children’s books in English!

The kids loved the Museo Egizio, even though it was overwhelmingly hot (dress in layers!) and quite crowded on a Saturday morning. For younger kids there is a special space Spaziozerosei dedicated to 0-6 years, where they do an activity that lasts 1 hour. You must book everything here quite far in advance and online.

If you need a break from Piemontese food, I was very excited about the Chinese options that you can find here: There’s the wonderful Oh Crispa! and also tiny, takeaway only spots like MU Bao (just down from Luxemburg) and a spot simply called Takeaway Street Food (Via San Francesco d’Assisi 1/c) where they make delicious jianbing and northern Chinese style jiaozi to order.

When my mother in law wanted to bring back some special treats as gifts, I took her to the nearly 200 year old Stratta in beautiful Piazza San Carlo for some pretty chocolates.

A drink at Banco Vini Alimenti, the natural wine bar of Ristorante Consorzio, around the corner. As we didn’t have time to visit the restaurant this trip, we enjoyed a quick drink with some nibbles (giardiniera and cheddar) here instead and took a bottle home too. Lovely (also conveniently around the corner from the jianbing place above).

Our last meal of the trip was at L’Osto del Borg Vej, which is in the cutest little tree filled piazza, close to the cobblestoned streets of the old centre. They do a very classic Piemontese menu. Their agnolotti were tiny and incredibly delicate in a brothier sauce of pan juices than usual — quite nice. We finished with a plate of Piemontese cheeses with quince paste, which was perfect.

Special note on traveling with dogs to Turin: This was our first trip traveling with the puppy and I loved that Turin is such a dog friendly city (you’ll notice everyone walking around town with their dogs!). Ours was allowed in restaurants, no problem, and taxis but you should always mention that you have a dog when booking. If you’re visiting museums, dogs aren’t allowed in most of them BUT there are plenty of dog sitting services for minding your dog while you visit a museum, brilliant! Shoutout to Italo too, which made it very easy to bring our puppy on the train without a carrier (you do have to have with you a soft muzzle just for boarding and exiting the train by law, as well as as buy the puppy a ticket but they give you a dedicated space that has an extra spot for the dog).

Would you like to know more? Let me know in the comments!

Below: 1st and 2nd photos are of Porto di Savona, 3rd photo of agnolotti al plin at Scannabue, 4th photo of bicerin at Farmacia del Cambio and last photo is taken at Banco Vini Alimenti natural wine bar.

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