We’re back from a week in Italy, mostly in Turin/Torino, and, in case it’s useful to anyone else going in the near future, or me when I return, below is a list of where we went. My photos are here on Flickr and Mary’s are here.
We really enjoyed Turin. We didn’t leave Centro, the old central part of the city, but there was plenty to see and eat there. We walked everywhere, 10-20km a day, enjoying the narrow streets and many small shops, cafés, etc. It wasn’t dramatically beautiful like some cities, but it was pretty and Centro seemed pretty relaxed, helped by most roads being small.
It was hot and sunny, although that wasn’t a problem in the narrower, shady streets, or under the many wide arcades on larger roads.
Some of the bigger squares and spaces could do with more trees for shade, and (like most cities) less traffic would make it more pleasant for pedestrians, cyclists and scooterers. Although, as drivers of a Fiat Panda 4x4, we enjoyed seeing so many Pandas of different varieties, ages, and colours everywhere. So, so many. This may be a niche attraction of the country.
We got a bus to and from the airport to the Torino Porta Susa stop, and it was easy to do – there was a helpful woman at an obvious desk in the airport to help us buy a return ticket (€11).
I didn’t realise quite how much everything closes down on Mondays (as well as Sundays (maybe more so?)). We were in Ivrea (see below) on a Monday and almost every shop was shut, and in Turin there weren’t many restaurants open in the evening.
We stayed in the Hotel Torino Porta Susa (Corso San Martino, 5) which we originally booked before Covid so I can’t recall exactly how we chose it. Probably because it’s fairly central and close to a bus stop from/to the airport. It was fine! It’s not super luxury but I’d guess something like Premier Inn sort of level.
The rooms (we had two different ones, for separate brief stays) looked like they’d been re-fitted and furnished pretty recently. Simple and clean. The staff were all friendly and helpful. We didn’t have breakfast there but, weather allowing, it’s out on a terrace over the street, which sounds nice.
For lunch we went to vegetarian/vegan cafes. All three were places where you choose three or so items from a selection, canteen-style. The food at all three was tasty, and they all had friendly helpful staff, at least some of whom could speak English.
- L’articiocc (Facebook, Via Palazzo di Città, 6). A small place on a pedestrian street, close to major museums. I don’t think it had outdoor seating and it got busy soon after it opened at midday, some people getting takeaways. A photo of lunch.
- L’Orto Bistro (Via S. Dalmazzo, 14). On a quiet street, with outdoor seating, and also open for breakfast. A few blocks west, half-way between the museums and the hotel. A photo of lunch.
- Mezzaluna (Piazza Emanuele Filiberto, 8/d). On a quiet square, with outdoor seating on the northern edge of Centro, near the big market. The tastiest of the three and we went back a second time. Also open in the evening.
For dinner we went to a few places:
- Da Zero. There are a few branches of this pizza place and we went to the one at Via San Domenico, 33, the night we arrived because it was close and easy and didn’t require thinking. No idea how the pizza compares to other places but it hit the spot. Outdoor seating on a quiet street. A photo of the pizza.
- Selezione Naturale (Via Andrea Provana 3/D). Google reviews praised the food of this vegetarian/vegan restaurant but said the service was very slow. They were right! It took ages for our order to be taken and as long for the food to arrive. Maybe it was a temporary issue, and I’d be willing to try again, but I wouldn’t arrive very hungry. Outdoor seating on a quiet street, also open for lunch.
- Le Vitel Etonné (Via S. Francesco da Paola 4). For a nice dinner I try to find somewhere that’s good, a step above the usual, but not stupidly expensive or fancy. It’s often hard to tell in advance but this was just right, really tasty, great service, and we went back a second time. Plenty of outdoor seating, also open for lunch. Best to book because it gets busy – the second time we didn’t and had to sit inside where it was very warm – although they only offer evening slots at 6pm or 9pm, which we found a bit early or late.
Places we went:
- Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum). Biggest/oldest outside Egypt. It was good and there is indeed a lot of it, so I’d reached Ancient Egypt saturation point by the end. We started off using the website audio guide but exhibits often had different titles on there compared to in the museum itself, and it became too fiddly to work out.
- CAMERA (Photography gallery). Saw their current exhibition of Dorothea Lange’s photos of the 1930s drought-forced migrations across the USA, and of the internment camps for people of Japanese descent during World War II. Not massive, but enough. The place is having some work done on a new entrance so it was noisy but will presumably be better soon.
- GAM - Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. Smaller than I expected and I didn’t find it super interesting. I have a hard time with art that’s abstract, or conceptual, or similar, unless I know (or can easily figure out) what the artist is trying to do. The most interesting thing was to see work from lots of early 20th century Italian artists I’d never heard of, which were obviously inspired by famous artists. Which must have happened everywhere, but you usually only see the famous artists’ works.
- National Museum of Cinema. In a huge building with a massive spire (which you can pay extra to go up in a lift), which is worth seeing as a space in itself. The museum’s in two halves. The first is a chronological journey from shadow puppets, through magic lanterns, and up to the very first film works, like the Lumière Brothers. When we moved to the next floors I was looking forward to this continuing onward, but the rest of the space is arranged by theme – genres, and then loosely by aspects of film-making (directing, editing, costumes, etc). That was OK but I don’t feel I learned anything at all from this thematic part.
One noticeable thing about the three places above that have permanent collections: the wall texts often made a point of explaining where an object had come from. e.g. when and how it was “gathered” from Egypt, or who purchased it at which auction, or when the collection it was part of was donated to the gallery.
Maybe this detailing of provenance is the fashion now? I can see the importance, and also that’s it’s interesting, but after a while it gets in the way of describing the objects themselves. It starts to feel like this is an exhibition about the museum, rather than about the history of Egypt, or about modern Italian painting, or about the development of cinema.
Places we didn’t get round to this time:
- Museo Nazionale Risorgimento Italiano. We tried to go twice to this “open every day” museum but both afternoons it had a sign up saying it was closed that afternoon. The second time was for filming, maybe for La legge di Lidia Poët given the production company was the same and we’d seen the end of a period shoot elsewhere, earlier.
- Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli. It was between exhibitions while we were there so we saved it for another time. It’d also be good to see the sculptures on the old Fiat test track on the roof.
- Castello di Rivoli – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea. Unlike all the above, this contemporary art museum isn’t in Centro and is quite a way out. So, another time.
We also spent one night in Ivrea, getting the train from Torino Porta Susa there and back. We stayed at the Dora Maison De Charme hotel which was a step or two up from our Turin hotel and very nice, and very small (four bedrooms). There’s not always someone on the desk, so it can take some coordination if you want to arrive, or leave bags, early, but it is doable.
We spent a morning doing the self-guided walking tour of the Olivetti buildings – workshops, offices, homes – which was interesting. That map is annoying though – no way to zoom in or out, no street names, and no indication of where any of that is in relation to the rest of Ivrea.
The reason for our trip was to attend the wedding of our friends who live in this little village north of Ivrea. It was amazing but you’ve missed that attraction.
There’s not much else in the village to share, other than great views, and a small but impressive church. We stayed at ’L Burnel, the one trattoria, which has seven rooms. The beds weren’t super comfortable, but food was fine and the staff were very friendly.
There’s not much English spoken in the village, so be prepared. There’s a bus service from Ivrea, but it doesn’t run on Sundays.