There was really no reason not to go to Turin. I didn’t have to teach for another two weeks because winter vacation is super long, bus tickets were cheap, and since when do I turn down a chance to go to Italy?
We convened way too early to get the 6:30 a.m. bus at Perrache in Lyon. Shannon was pretty like a flower as usual, and I looked the way I imagine bears look when someone interrupts their hibernation before spring.
At first I was wary of the five hour bus ride, but the bus was actually really comfortable, and one of those five hours was spent at a rest stop in the middle of the alps (bus drivers have to pee too). Now I’m an IDbus fan. It’s not the speediest but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the train.
I can’t say I fell in love with Turin, but it was fun to get out of France for the weekend and visit the land of aperitivo.
I feel like aperitivo was 32% of the reason we went to Italy. Many restaurants and bars offer a complimentary buffet with the purchase of a drink in the evening. Maybe it was love of food, maybe love of free stuff, but we were super excited about the prospect of aperitivo.
Most places seemed to charge between seven and ten euros for aperitivo. The buffet we tried wasn’t out of this world, but hey, dinner and a drink for ten euros isn’t bad. (Any local tips for aperitivoing like a boss, Italy-dwellers? We may have done it wrong.)
I had imagined myself sipping Aperol spritzes, but then I realized I hate Aperol. It looks red and juicy, but it’s bitter! So I let Shannon get her Aperol on, and I stuck to prosecco.
Zuccherini at Clorophilla
After aperitivo and before late night Belgian fries was Clorophilla. It’s a trendy bar that looks like a jungle cave and serves fresh fruit cocktails and shots. Its signature drinks are made with an herb-infused alcohol called Genepy.
The tables on the sidewalk outside were great for a) resting our tired feet after all the city strolling we did, and b) people watching! We saw very few people in their 20s and 30s, but it was fun to see 40 and 50 somethings and teenagers at the same bar. We decided that all the Italian teenage boys seemed to dress the same (jeans, sneakers, jacket) and put too much gel in their hair. Black thick-soled boots and heels were clearly a trend among the girls. Just a couple hours over the border, but so different from France!
So, the zuccherini. It made me think of zucchini, but then I realized that “zucchero” is sugar. Zuccherini are really, really strong fruit alcohols served in a tiny cup with a sugar cube. We tried violet and lavender, not sure what to expect. We tossed them back. They were tasty. Then the 90 proof alcohol hit, our eyes watered, and the bartenders urged us to “chew! chew the sugar!” which we did, frantically. Then we took selfies to remember the moment. I won’t be sharing those here. Here’s a weirdly-lit photo of alcoholic fruit instead.
Sunday was mostly spent at Eataly. It is a giant emporium of food. I bought a mini cheese grater, which may seem odd for someone who doesn’t eat cheese, but it was an inch and a half tall and I thought it was delightful. Also, I had prosecco with lunch.
Because you can eat lunch in Eataly! And then get gelato for dessert.
But do you know what Eataly didn’t have? Mozzarella. At all. Come back on Monday, they said. Let me just reiterate that the enormous Italian food store that has all the Italian food items you could imagine was entirely out of mozzarella cheese. How did that happen? Pizza party bandits?
It was quite easy to get to Eataly on the metro (which is pristine). We walked through a mall to get there, and we saw children and parents riding what looked like giant furry wind-up animals. Didn’t know quite what to make of that!
Um, anything else?
We were in Turin for less than 48 hours, and it was January. Most of our time was spent eating, strolling, and attempting to communicate in Italian.
Have you written about Turin? Please share a link! I had a tough time finding local tips in English.
I’m dying to go back to Italy – I’m considering Florence, Bologna, Rome, Naples, the Adriatic coast, or maybe the Ionian… help! Where are you favorite places in Italy?