The Italian Job: Day 2 – Eating Turin and the Eurovision Song Contest

I went out to find dinner after checking in at the rather luxurious hostel (they provide soap and towels), and, inevitably, got distracted.

The hostel is across the road from the Porta Palatina, a 1st Century Roman Gate that served the city for centuries. In the 18th Century, some bright spark (the Duke) thought he’d have it knocked down but architect and engineer Antonio Bertola convinced the duke to preserve the ancient architectural work. It’s now part of an archeology garden so that was inevitably going to be something to explore at some point.

The Just Eat riders, pictured, are part of fairly global action to demand better conditions (i.e. contracts and employment protection) for drivers and riders in delivery services. There’s a few people won’t be getting their takeaway tonight. On the last Friday in March there was a No Delivery Day in Rome with riders from all delivery companies taking part. Strikes continue in different cities and Friday night seems a good time to make an impact.

I found some grafitti in the Piazzo Castello indicating further action (and a party on the 1st May).

I also found dinner at this restaurant that was full of locals. For a grand total of €13 (including the cover charge) I enjoyed pizza Genovese and a large glass of good (i.e. not turning my teeth blue) red wine.

And this morning? Well, terrible news, dear reader, the cake and chocolate tour I was booked onto has been cancelled. I know!!! Shocking. Apparently I was the only person who wanted to do it. How can that even be possible.

So the tour company (Do Eat Better) bumped me onto their Gourmet Food Tour at no extra cost. (It’s an additional €25 so I was already impressed).

They described it as:

The food and wine tour in Turin aims at exploring the best culinary tradition therein, browsing among the most renown dishes and discovering the recipes that Turinese people appreciate. The most loved among them are the fragrant breadsticks accompanied with local cured meats, the famous first dishes with ingredients from the Turinese territory and the meats, the very strength of cuisine from Piedmont. Finally, in order to conclude an actual Turinese meal, one cannot miss the delicious desserts from the local food tradition. A tour not to be missed, among exclusive restaurants and culinary curiosities, perfect if sided with the excellent wines from Piedmont (like the famous Nebbiolo, for instance).

Do Eat Better

Of course, before I joined that tour, there was a morning of exploring to do.

Turin’s Central Market is across the road from my hostel (which seems to act as a bit of a community facility, having a rather swish cafe, bar and restaurant on the ground floor. It’svery reasonably priced). While I was having breakfast, I clocked a few people popping in for coffee with huge shopping bags bursting with fruit and veg. The market is huge – the stalls piled high and the smells of the strawberries, oranges, lemons (and the onions) were mouthwatering.

From the hostel (excellent planning on my part for a good central place to say even if I do say so myself), through the Archelogy Park to the Piazza Castello, you can’t go many steps before stumbling over a museum (or church).

Moody Sky over the Archeology Park

There’s a museum for everything (I think) within a very small space. I passed the remains of the Roman Theatre which was used until the 3rd Century and then sort of forgotten about until rediscovery in the 17th Century when the Palace was having another extension built. The Palace and its gardens are now part of a museum complex that focus on Mediterranean archeological and cultural history.

From the Piazza Castello which houses the Armouries I passed the Museum of Italy’s Unifaction and the Egyptology Museum, all within 100m and that’s not counting the art musuems. All had very large tour groups waiting to go in.

What did I do? I ate chocolate by a fountain which was incredibly peaceful until a woman sat beside me to have a row by video call with, possibly her partner or brother, hard to tell. As it got heated, she got up and walked away. I could still here her shouting at him as she walked into the next piazza.

Starting off in a rather beautiful wine bar…


Today’s culinary delights featured the local wine (mostly Barolo in my case), Turin’s traditional pasta (ravioli del plin – teeny ravioli parcels), instead of tartare, I went with the vegetarian otion of a cheese sauce wrapped in a filo pastry served with spinach and asparagus and then…. there was the chocolate and LOTS of it. Turin was the birthplace of solid chocolate. Prior to 1865, we were merely drinking it. Before Lindt, the true master chocolatiers were here in Turin. Without them… no bars of chocolate and no Easter eggs. The tour concluded with bicherin – a three layered hot drink: base layer, chocolate; middle, coffee and top, cream. Mmm.

But I forgot to mention the breadsticks… also invented here. The prince Vitorrio Amadeo couldn’t eat bread, apparently just the soft dough part so the chef worked out how to bake crispy breadsticks so the boy wouldn’t starve.

It was a superb food tour – a mixture of history with stories about Turin under Napoleon and commentary on the age of the bars and cafes. The bar we ended in, Stratta opened in 1836.

I’ve also spent the afternoon being educated in the appreciation of ALL things Eurovision. This was not something I had predicted for the afternoon.

Because I ignore everything to do with Eurovision, I don’t pay any attention to where it is being held and this caught me out in 2017. As I arrived in Lisbon congratulating myself for avoiding any mention of the contest for the weekend, I was informed that the capital of Portugal was where it was being held. Bugger

It turns out I’ve done it again. Eurovision is being held here in Turin in two weeks. I’ve got time to get out of Dodge Miceal (@eurovisionhub on YouTube for the global Eurovision equivalent of Gogglebox which I have to say sounds fab) and Alicia are here to vlog, blog, podcast and comment about all things Eurovision – capturing the buildup and getting views from the fans on the contest and acts.

Over the course of our tastings our small group (mostly thanks to Raffaelo and Carolina) also translated the lyrics for San Marino’s entry and I am now definitely #TeamSanMarino. I’ve not actually heard any of the other songs but San Marino definitely need to win.

We discussed the history of Eurovision from the glory days (for the UK) of the ’80s and ’90s through to the dark days of the 2000s (my mates stopped holding parties after 1998) and the ’10s as well as the cultural significance and what it means to the true fans. A thoroughly entertaining afternoon.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying I had a Damascene Conversion but it’s definitely: Ha’way San Marino!

Categories: Italy, The Italian Job, Travel, TurinTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. What Philistines wouldn’t want to go on a chocolate tour?

    Liked by 1 person

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