It turned out today was the Turin Marathon. Streets were closed and there were lots of people about. I began to think I’d made a bad choice in weekends but actually it was fun. The starting point was in Piazza San Carlo and as I’d decided to go to Caffe Stratta for my first coffee of the day I ended up virtually on the starting line. I saw Stratta on my first exploration of the city, straight of after checking into the hotel on Friday and then wandering off. I was drawn by its old traditional cafe style and the amazing cakes in the window.
The cafe opened as a chocolate and confectionary shop in 1836. It supplied sweet things to the royal Savoy family and still sells to the rich, famous, and powerful today. Inside it’s confectionary heaven: glorious cakes, pastries, chocolate and bonbons.
As it was fairly early in the morning, I stuck with the comparatively modest choice of a cappuccino and mini croissant – but I did choose a chocolate cream filling!
From here I made my way to Mole Antonelliana, a bold tall building that Antonio told me is an iconic symbol of the city. At its completion in 1889, it was the highest brick building in the world. So tall is it, and located in the grid of narrow streets, that it was impossible to photograph the entire building.
Even at a fairly early hour of 10am there was already a long queue with a sign saying it would take an hour to get the lift to the top and panoramic view. I dithered but Antonio had convinced me this couldn’t be missed. It did indeed take about an hour, but it was worth it for the spectacular views across the city.
The morning mist hadn’t burnt off yet and so the distant Alps were still shrouded in haze, which was a slight pity, but given the size of the queue by the time I got back down, it was a smart move to go early!
I decided it was time for another coffee and in my search for a cafe, I quite by chance came across a food market in Piazza della Citta.
It was a wonderful market to find by chance and very busy. Apparently it’s only there on the first Sunday of the month.
By now it was lunchtime and I headed to the nearby Cianci Piola Caffe in Largo IV Marzo.
It was such a pretty square to sit for lunch on a sunny Sunday. The cafe was only just opening and I could see most tables were reserved. Luckily there was one for me but I had to fill in a few minutes so decided to visit the Duomo, which was so close I could see it.
It was very simple inside and rather austere but I quite liked it. Back at the cafe there was an enormous queue. Most people had booked but many were sent away. I momentarily considered going as if everyone was seated at the same time – and it was a big seating area – I could have a long wait to get food.
I’m glad I stayed though. It was all amazingly well organised with a number of waiters moving fast. Bread – very gorgeous bread with a yellow tone suggesting some maize – was almost immediately put before me with a short menu on a little blackboard.
I didn’t want a huge meal at lunchtime and so chose a ‘primo’ dish: chicche (a kind of gnocchi) with sausage, broccoli, radicchio, and other lovely things.
It was quite a small dish but fabulous; so tasty and the little gnocchi incredibly light and tender. I decided to have dessert and chose Mousse Di Pesche – chocolate mousse on top of peach purée and crushed amaretti biscuits. Simple but lovely.
I had a glass of house wine with the meal, water and an espresso at the end. The bill came to €12.50 so a great value lunch. Afterwards I took a slow walk back to the hotel for a little rest and to charge my phone that seems to be losing power quite quickly today. It had been another lovely morning in Turin.