Turin 2019: Arrival – Gelato & Aperitivo

I’ve clearly fallen a little in love with Turin as I’m back for a third visit in just over two years. It’s such a beautiful city and a veritable foodie’s paradise – home of chocolate, home of vermouth, glorious local wines like Barolo, and the home of the Slow Food Movement. It’s also home to the Grand Hotel Sitea that has fast become one of my favourite hotels.

My flight arrived a bit after midday and I took a taxi to the hotel, which is wonderfully situated right in the centre of the city. It really couldn’t be a better location. I received a warm welcome back and happily could get into my room straight away, having emailed my arrival time the day before.

They’d given me the same room as my previous two visits so I felt immediately at home.

I didn’t linger long in my room but set off quickly out into the city. I’d eaten a snack on the plane so decided it was gelato time. Nearby, just off the Piazza San Carlo is La Romana, which I’d read was one of the best gelaterias in Turin and a favourite with the locals.

There was quite a long queue inside; always a good sign.

Italian style, I paid first and got a ticket, then joined a queue to get my ice cream. I had a small cup (€2.50) and could choose two flavours. I had a chocolate fondant and pear flavoured with ginger.


The ice cream was excellent; without doubt some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.

Back outside I was excited to discover there’s a chocolate and dolce (sweet) festival this weekend in via Roma.

The first stall had a little exhibition of raw cocoa beans and showed how it’s traditinally ground up.


There were lots of tempting things and generous offerings of tastings.



One of the great things about staying very centrally in a city is that you can easily pop back to the hotel. I’d bought a few gifts but it was only a 5-minute walk back to Sitea. I decided to take a short rest after my early start in the morning and shower and change for the evening. I headed out again around 5pm for aperitivo. This Italian institution is one of the best things about holidaying in Italy! From experience I know that an early evening drink comes with snacks so it’s wise to have aperitivo a while before you plan to eat dinner!

Back in Piazza San Carlo I crossed over the square to a favourite haunt here – Caffe Torino. One of the city’s most famous historic cafes, it’s also well known for serving vermouth. Having recently done the Guild of Food Writers workshop on vermouth I decided this was what I should drink rather than my usual prosecco.

My Martini (€8.50) came with a plate of gorgeous snacks.

Armed with a book I’m reading at the moment, I settled down for a peaceful hour of drink, food and reading. I couldn’t help being distracted sometimes by the glorious view through the arch to the Piazza.

I’d only been in Turin for 4-5 hours but already felt at home and so happy to be back in this beautiful city.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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