Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Anna Irrera

Hello there!!! I hope you decided to keep reading about Turin since, as I promised in my first article, this one would be more fun and especially more scrumptious!

Personally I think a city cannot be considered fantastic if its shopping situation is not that great… No, I’m just kidding, but still, shopping is one very important aspect of a respectable vacation. In terms of this standard, Turin is perfect because it offers both luxury shopping and fun and vintage shopping.

The luxury stores are those on Via Roma (Turin’s Main Street): boutiques of the biggest names in fashion, jewelry stores, and the poshy food and wine stores which feature the best of our regional products. In these food shops a truffle may cost more than a diamond ring at Tiffany’s. But no, we don’t have truffles at breakfast- if we had Tiffany’s in Turin I bet most of us would stick with breakfast there!

On Via Roma, the shop that catches the true “shopaholic’s” eye is San Carlo, a very old boutique which sells all the most famous Italian brands (Gucci, Prada, Miu Miu, Armani, Tod’s, Fendi…I could go on forever!) and other top European brands. It is of course very expensive but the best thing is that you get to see all the brands in one shop and compare prices and styles. Above all it’s really fun because it sells clothes and all sorts of accessories and home gadgets.

If you are feeling generous and most of your credit cards still haven’t been cut to pieces (seriously, I always wondered if that ever happens or do they only do it in movies as a deterrent for shopping addicts…?), and you wish to bring back a present for your boyfriend or your dad, I suggest you go to Jack Emerson. which is a sort of shrine to elegance and tradition for all Turinese men. For about 50 years now, the owner, Engineer Barbero has imported hand-picked English fabrics and garments in order to make extraordinary English clothing for his elite customers.

You may be thinking…”Right, so I go all the way to Italy and bring back a kilt?”. You may have a point there, but apart from the “English style,” what I find really nice about this shop is that it really gives you an idea of the Turinese mentality. The store is tricky to find because it’s on the second floor of a building located between Via Roma and Piazza Castello, but still the “cream of the crop” of Turin knows exactly where it is.

Likewise, fellow Italians say that we are very snobbish and unfriendly and somewhat distant. But I think it is more of an unassuming elegance which prefers to stay hidden and may easily be confused with inhospitality. The very proof of this is the simple fact that Turin is a city that despite its unquestionable beauty and its great potential in tourism is still basically anonymous to the rest of the world.

If You are in a mood for a walk downtown and prefer well known brands, then I suggest you stroll down Via Roma until Piazza Castello where all the main shops are.

If you are more of a Bohemian then there are fun and assorted stores in the little alleys of the old historical center, full of cafés, craftsmen… If you decide to explore the side streets of Turin, you’ll come across enchanting little shops and open markets. And you can’t miss Turin’s exciting flea market, the famous “Balon.” The Balon is held every Saturday morning and on the second Sunday of the month.

Chocolate!

If you decide you wish to bring a bit of Turin home, I suggest you visit Peyrano-Pfatish and Gobino, the two most famous chocolatiers in town. Turin’s chocolate is in fact Italy’s best chocolate as it goes way back. One of the city’s icons is the Gianduiotti chocolate, a mixture of Tonda Gentile delle Langhe hazelnuts and cocoa. These two ingredients were combined during Carnival season: hence the name, which is in honor of Gianduia, the typical carnival character in Torino.

This combination of cocoa and toasted hazelnuts started the creation of famous chocolatiers: Baratti & Milano, Caffarel, Peyrano, G. Pfatisch, Novi, Streglio, and Stratta. Since then this delicacy has conquered the world with its creamy version, the star Nutella, produced by Ferrero which is based about 40 minutes from Turin.

The Peyrano was opened by Gustavo Pfatish in 1930 but was bought in 1963 by the Peyrano family (the family that owns “Peyrano” in Corso Moncalieri). The combination of the two great chocolate-makers in Turin has generated an amazing store full of exquisite delicacies. The owners boast clients such as the Clintons of whom they proudly display a picture on top of the shop’s counter. www.peyrano.com

Gobino is again a perfect example of the Turinese mentality. Despite its appearance as an unimpressively small chocolate shop, it is seen by many as the most promising chocolate enterprise in Turin. One of Gobino’s inventions is the turinot, microscopic gianduiotti, gianduiotti al caffè (coffee flavored gianduiotti), the amarissimo (super bitter chocolate), and the dark chocolate wafers with chocolate chips. My personal Gobino favorites are these enormous slates of poured chocolate which of course like all good things stay one second in your mouth and a lifetime on your hips…

I began telling you about shopping and, like any respectable Italian, I ended up telling you about our food!!! So you’ll probably have already guessed what the next article will be on… Yes next time I’ll tell you all about our special recipes and the best places to taste them.

Meanwhile have a great summer!

Ciao!

Anna

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