Day Trip: Bardonecchia

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Turin is perfectly situated in the Northwest corner of Italy which makes it a fantastic base for taking day trips to some of Italy most beautiful places.  Only an hour and a half by train (90km from Turin), Bardonecchia is a quaint mountain town perfect for those who love to hike and ski. 

In 2006, Bardonecchia hosted the Snowboarding events during the Winter Olympic Games. The town is full of charm and breathtaking views. However, you’ll need to remember that the city’s tourism is mainly from skiing and hiking so, going to visit during the off season will be a different. 

Going in the offseason does have it’s advantages. You’ll be able to take photos galore of the scenery without having to worry about random people walking by. 

To find out more about Bardonecchia, visit their official website here and Winter/Summer events here.

Luci D’Artista 2011

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The holiday season is coming to an end and Torino has once again shined bright with it’s Luci D’Artista display. 2011 marked the 14th edition of Luci D’Artista which is a contemporary art throughout the city. Every November 1st the city is transformed for citizens and tourists to enjoy to what seems like the beginning of the Holiday Season. This year, there were 19 installations and while I didn’t get photos of all 19 of them, I did manage to get a few.

Advent Calendar at Piazza Castello

Vele di Natale- from Via Po to Piazza Carlo Alberto

Volo su.. on Via Po
Palomar- on Via Roma

My Noon- Piazza Carignano

Noi- Via Carlo Alberto

Lui e l’arte di andare nel bosco- Via Lagrange

Planetario- Via Pietro Micca

Luci D’Artista will be on display until the 15th of January. For more information, you can visit the official site here.

Vola sul Po

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The Po. Italy’s longest river runs from the northern slopes of Monviso to the Adriatic Sea near Venice. While swimming in the Po is NOT permitted, there are other activities that you can participate in during your summer visit. Perhaps flying over the Po is more your style.

For the second year, the folks at VerticalLifeTeam.it have brought Vola sul Po to the people of Turin. While I myself am not very adventurous, I had to admit, it looked like a lot of fun and if I WAS NOT in my delicate state, I would definitely try it!

As you can see from the photos below, not only is it safe but fun for the whole family!

If you happen to be in Turin before the end of the month, head on down to Piazza Vittorio Veneto and you’ll see the platform set up! Otherwise, there’s always next summer.

To find out more about Vertical Life Team, check out their website or Facebook page.

Life in Turin: Love Locks

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You’ve seen them before, perhaps on the Ponte Milvio in Rome or Ponte del Accademia in Venice. Now, they’ve made their way into Turin.

Love Padlocks or Love Locks have been a symbol of ones eternal love for quite some time although it is unknown how long ago it started. They began to pop up in Europe sometime in the early 2000′s. Thanks to Federico Moccia’s book: I Want You, lovers flocked to Rome’s Ponte Milvio to proclaim their love.

From Paris to Serbia to Taiwan to Uruguay, love reigns on trees, bridges and lamp posts.

Will you confess your everlasting love on your visit to Turin?

*These Love Locks are located at the Po River near Piazza Vittorio Veneto.

M**BUN

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Anytime I meet up with a Torinese, I always ask the same question. What is your favorite restaurant? The answers vary but lately, I’m getting the same one over and over again.

M**BUN has been the jewel of Rivoli and now a location has opened in Turin.  Everyone was raving about it SO of course we had to find out what the hype was about.

What makes M**BUN so unique is that ALL of the ingredients are from Piemonte and while they adhere to the Slow Food movement, it is still fast food!  To keep in theme with Piemonte, the menu items are written in Piemontese!

The place was packed. Students, families, businessmen and women. They are family friendly and offer lots of space. An elevator is conveniently located for those with children in strollers or those who are handicap. They also have a small play area for the little ones.

It was easy to see why M**BUN was so popular. The burgers were tasty and the chips were made in-house.

While enjoying my burger with pancetta, I was reminded of the burgers that McDonald’s offers. For those who aren’t familiar with the McItaly menu, not only will you find a Big Mac but all McDonald’s locations here in Italy offer burgers made with Italian ingredients. You can get a burger on a Ciabatta roll with Asiago cheese. Now, rumor has it that the original name of M**BUN was actually MAC BUN but that McDonald’s wasn’t too happy. So, thus the asterisks replacing the missing letters. The burgers at M**BUN taste very similar to those at McDonalds and to be perfectly honest there’s not much of a cost difference. In my personal opinion, go to M**BUN instead of McDonalds. You’ll feel better knowing that your money is going into the local economy!

It’s not hard to find. Just look for the golden cow and the line out the door! It’s also located next to one of many Grom locations!

M**BUN

Corso Siccardi 8/A

10122 Torino

tele: 011.561.7097

www.mbun.it

Stra Gelato 2011

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One a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than eating a gelato…. or 11!  This year was the third annual Stra Gelato (aka Gelato marathon!) From my understanding, the past two years it was an actual timed marathon. This year, it was just a casual event. 11 hours to try 11 flavors of gelato. 11 gelaterie participated and a few of them had a second location. So, technically, it was 15 different places to try gelato.

The rules were simple, pick up a copy of CronacaQui (on the day of the marathon) and present it to the gazebo at Piazza CLN. Fill out your registration form and pick up your card.  On the cards, were the names of the 11 gelaterie and flavors. Each time you visit, they punch your card. The insert of CronacaQui had the map with all of the places to go.

(don’t mind the confetti in my hair!)

We had a game plan. We didn’t want to back track or walk anymore than we had to so, we followed our map to the first place.

1. Vasa Vasa Gelateria

Flavor: Sapore di Sicilia

This is actually one of my favorite places to get a Granita Siciliana. Their gelato is really good and it definitely a contender as one of the top spots in the city. The flavor they selected was Sapore di Sicilia. It was really light and creamy with a bit of Mandarin flavor. The description also mentioned that it had a hint of marsala which I didn’t taste at all. I was disappointed that my sample was so small. They should have given more!

2. Caffe Miretti

Flavor: Fior di Panna

Every evening during the summer, you will find a long line outside of Caffe Miretti. One of the one of the most popular caffes in Turin and a must if you’re Torinese. This caffe has style and is a great place to come and soak in the local flavor. Their Fior di Panna is so delicate. It’s creamy, light and melts in your mouth. It’s like having the best fresh whipped cream you’ve ever had! I was happy to see that we got a bigger sample here than at Vasa Vasa.

img_6508-1 img_6512-1 img_6510-1 img_6515-13. Cioccogelateria Venchi

Flavor: Cioccolato Azteco

Having just visited Venchi a few weeks ago, we decided that we’d go to the one at Porta Nuova instead of the one on Via Garibaldi. As I mentioned, for some reason it just tastes better. If you are a fan of EXTRA DARK CHOCOLATE, then this is for you! It’s actually a sorbet but it’s really rich. You’ll want to pair it with something light like Fior di Latte.

4. Cono d’oro

Flavor: Chantilly

This was a new one for us. We had never heard of had a gelato from this place and it’s located on one of the most prestigious streets in the city. If you’ve ever had an Italian pastry filled with fluffy white cream.. you can be sure it’s probably Chantilly. Light and airy, it’s the perfect flavor on a hot summer day!

5. Alberto Marchetti

Flavor: Fave Tonka e grue’ di cacao

We’ve actually heard quite a bit about this particular gelateria so, when we realized that they were part of Stra Gelato, we were very excited. This may be the best odd flavor gelato I’ve ever had. Cream made with Tonka beans with bits of chocolate. Truth be told, I never thought I’d actually enjoy gelato with beans. I gotta say… IT WAS AMAZING!!

6. Rivareno

Flavor: Bergamotto Calabro

One of our new favorites Rivareno also had two locations to choose from. The route we chose had us trying the store at Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Here we had another sorbet which was odd considering it didn’t taste like a sorbet. It was more of a citrus flavor and would be awesome if it were a Granita Sicliana!

We loved spotting everyone with their Stra Gelato passes around their necks. Each group walking around with their maps or gelati in hand.

7. La Piramide

Flavor: Limone

I had always wondered what this place was like. I’d walk by and it’s always busy but that’s probably because they also serve Pizza. Since I’m not really a fan of the Pizza/Kebab/Gelato places, I was a bit worried. However, this must be a great spot since it’s one of the first places to bring the Granita Siciliana to Turin.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lemon gelato. It was actually creamy and the lemon was light and subtle. That may be due to the fact that they use lemons from the Amalfi Coast.

8. La Piazzetta

Cioccolato e Pere

By this time, I was starting to get full so we had to stop and rest as well as feed and change the baby. Our next stop had us at La Piazzetta so we sat at Piazza Carlo Alberto for a good 45 minutes. It also allowed us to wait for our friends to join us in the remainder of our marathon. La Piazzetta featured a chocolate and pear gelato which I didn’t like so much. Personally, the pear was too strong and really outweighed the chocolate. It just wasn’t a perfect balance, our friends thought otherwise.

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I sat and looked at my gelato badge and realized I was almost done!!

9. Vanilla

Flavor: Panna Cotta Maison

Vanilla has been around for a few years now but it’s still a hidden gem. I’ve mentioned before that we think it’s the BEST gelato in Turin. The owners know us and were excited that we were participating in Stra Gelato. They asked everyone if it was their first time visiting Vanilla and to please let them know what they thought of the Panna Cotta Maison. Vanilla actually imports the vanilla beans they use from Mexico and you can easily tell they take pride in their gelato. We heard a lot of buzz from everyone near us that it was truly delicious and they gave their compliments to the owners.  I think the lines at Vanilla are about to get really long this summer!

10. Ottimo!

Flavor: Crema Australiana

Since I just went to Ottimo! last week, their deliciousness was still fresh in my mind. What I failed to do last time was take a picture of the flavors they have so, I made sure to do it this time around. As we were about to enter, the hubby joke that this one was made of Kangaroo milk. It does however have macadamia nuts and chocolate. I had said that they have “exoticly” flavors and as you can tell from the pictures, I was right. I am interested in finding out exactly how that Orange and Basil might taste!

11. Piu di un gelato

Flavor: Yogurt  Variegato

The last one! 10 flavors down.. one more to go. I was excited that I was just about done. I was having a great time but I was full! This gelateria is hidden in one of the small side streets near Via Garibaldi and could be easily missed. Since we now know about it, I’ll be sure to come back often especially since I LOVED their sample. Yogurt flavored gelato with cherry syrup and whole cherries!  Not only did this hit the spot perfectly but it was the biggest gelato of the whole marathon so, I was happy that it was my last one!

At the end, I went back to the gazebo to let them know I had finished. My “prize” was a small flower and 2 coupons for free gelato at 2 of the participating places. Looks like I’ll be going back to Ottimo! and Miretti for more!

To read more about StraGelato and to see more photos, go to CronacaQui.it. If you’re in Italy in June, I highly recommend spending some time in Turin and join me next year!

Tour del Gelato: Ottimo!

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I honestly don’t know what to say about Ottimo. I’ve been wanting to try this place for a while. Our friends (and gelato lovers) mentioned this place to one one evening but we have never had the opportunity to go.  Last week, I met up with fellow expat Jill for lunch and girl chat. We watched the kids splash around and then made our way to some of the most delicious gelato I. HAVE. EVER. HAD.

This place has a few of your basic flavors: Fior di Latte, Nocciola, & Fondente, but they also had some exoticly (not sure if that’s a real word but I’m using it!) interesting flavors such as: like Peanuts with Wild Strawberries.

Unfortunately, I had the hubster’s point-n-shoot camera so these aren’t the best pictures, but you get the idea. Jill tried the Peanut & Wild Strawberries. She and I both agreed that it was a really strong peanut flavor but you couldn’t taste the strawberries at all. She also tried Pistachio and Cinnamon. That was actually really good. It had whole Pistachios and the cinnamon was perfectly balanced.

I went with classic flavors: Fior di Latte and Nocciola Cavour. Since I was sharing my gelato with a little one, I needed to make sure they were simple.  I have never had a nocciola that was so pure and rich. It was almost like peanut butter, but with hazelnuts. The fior di latte was really creamy and I like that I could actually taste the milk in it.

As you can tell, it was a big hit with the little monkey. To be honest, she’ll eat any kind of flavor. (she takes after her mom!!)

At the moment, there’s scaffolding in front of the gelateria so this is that best that I could get. If you’re in the area, I very highly recommend giving Ottimo a try.

Ottimo!

Via Francesco D’Assisi 3/b

10122 Torino

Life in Turin: Last day of school

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It is tradition that on the last day of school, the kids head down to Piazza Castello and play in the fountains. This may not seem out of character for some. After all, when it’s hot, you’ll often see children splashing around. However, it’s a bit different to see Jr. High and High School age kids doing it.

As I was going through the pictures, I noticed that the kids in the first 2 photos are much younger than the ones in the others. I’m assuming that they are Elementary or Middle School children and that is probably why they are at Piazza Solferino. Less crowded, more room to play!

This years crowd at Piazza Castello was a lot bigger than the past years. Normally, it’s much easier to get in the middle of everything to take pictures but this time it was a bit different. I was slightly nervous that I might get tossed into the fountain but  luckily I was ok.

Spotlight on: Piazza Palazzo di Città

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Just like any Italian city, Turin has it’s fair share of squares. The piazzas of Turin are spectacular, simple and yet majestic. Piazza Palazzo di Città is located in the the city center, not far from the Roman ruins of Porta Palatina.  Since the early Middle Ages, this area was the heart of the city and was used as a vegetable market while nearby Piazza Corpus Domini hosted the bread market.

During the weekday, it’s quiet, calm and perfect if you want to get away from the crowds. On the weekends, it becomes a busy market selling fresh local meats and cheeses, as well as hand-crafted woodworks. One of my favorite times to walk through Piazza Palazzo di Città is during the holidays. Every year at Christmas time, the city coordinates Luci D’Artista to kick off the season. Since this year is Italy’s 150 years of Unification, there is a special edition of Luci D’Artista. (Until the end of June.)

Walking under the porticos and standing in the piazza during the day is fine. (notice I’m not going to pretend that it’s amazing during the day) However I suggest you go at night. It’s beautiful.

While your there, you can stop at Tlaloc which is located under the porticos and then make your way to Vanilla for some gelato!

Tour del Gelato: Cioccogelateria Venchi

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Summer is upon us and sometimes there’s nothing better to cool you off than a gelato…. or two. This time around on the Tour del Gelato, we visited a Turin institution turned gelateria: Venchi. Anyone familiar with Italian chocolates know that Venchi is one of the most trusted names in “confectionary art”. From specialty chocolates to traditional Gianduja, Venchi has it all. They also now have Sugar free and Gluten free products! One of my new favorite Venchi items is the Cuor di Cacao Cream Jar. (Think Nutella but with DARK chocolate!!)

This isn’t the first time we’ve gone to Venchi for gelato however, while reading about Stra-Gelato 2011 I noticed that there was a 2nd location at Porta Nuova. Since we were going to be there we thought we’d give the new local another try.

Anytime, I walk pass Venchi, I automatically start drooling. All of the chocolates look so amazing and their gelato is so tempting. I never know what flavor to get.  This time around I went with the promotional item.

Coppa Venchi was a large cup with Crema flavored gelato, topped with panna and chocolate drizzled on top. We did ask what flavors were in this Coppa Venchi and she said Cream and Caramel. I did not taste the caramel at all. The gelato itself was really smooth and creamy which was a huge surprise considering the gelato at their first location on Via Garibaldi is always really hard. There was quite a bit of panna, maybe equal ratio panna/gelato. The chocolate was a nice touch but by the end of the cup, I felt the panna and cream was too much of a neutral flavor. I think they should add some of the chocolate to the bottom of the cup as well.

I did like the fact that my cup looked exactly like the poster! While I wasn’t too impressed with this particular combination, I’ll will no doubt go back to Venchi. I have my eye on a couple of chocolate flavors!

Cioccogelateria Venchi

Via Garibaldi, 22 & inside Porta Nuova Train Station

Venchi.com

Are you traveling to other cities in Italy? Check out the Tour del Gelato blogroll to see if there is a recommended gelateria at your next destination!