Marianna Hunt

How to spend 48 hours in Turin

How to spend 48 hours in Turin
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This May Turin’s stately boulevards and grand piazzas will be flooded with sequin-clad divas and flag-brandishing fans, as it gears up to host the 66th edition of the Eurovision song contest.

This is only the third time ever that Italy has hosted the competition, following Rome in 1991 and Naples in 1965. The country’s first ever capital (from 1861 to 1865) and the urban hub of the stunning Piedmont region (a foodie haven) – Turin is an under-appreciated gem among European city breaks. There's no better to time to discover the best of what the city has to offer ahead of the Eurovision Grand Final on 14 May.

What to do

With a seductive mix of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Art Nouveau buildings, Turin (or Torino) is best explored on foot.

Start at the Piazza Castello to take in historic palaces including Palazzo Madama and the Palazzo Reale (The Royal Palace of Turin). Both are now museums laden with treasures, including ancient arts and crafts and a Royal Armoury stuffed with impressive weapons. A climb up the Palazzo Madama’s towers gives you an excellent view over the city.

Next door, Turin’s main cathedral is home to the Shroud of Turin (believed to be the cloth in which Jesus' body was wrapped post-crucifixion).

Piazza Castello is also an ideal stopping point to enjoy some gelato by the fountains. A few minutes’ walk away are the Piazza Carlo Alberto and Piazza San Carlo, two deliciously photogenic squares with Baroque backdrops.

Piazza San Carlo, Torino

Head towards one of Turin’s four rivers, the Dora Riparia, via the Mercato di Porta Palazzo – the largest market in Europe. Here you can explore around 1,000 stalls featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, artisan cheeses, vintage clothes and more.

A trip to Valentino Park is a must. This 42-hectare oasis runs along the banks of the Po (another of Turin’s rivers) and is perfect for picnicking, people watching and strolls in the shade. It is also home to a full-size replica of a traditional Italian village from the Middle Ages, complete with a drawbridge, craft shops, fortress and underground prison. Built for the 1884 Turin Expo, entry to the Borgo Medievale costs around €5.

If there's time, cross over the river and hike up the Monte dei Capuccini for sunset – a small hill with another memorable view of Turin.

Where to stay

Foresteria degli Artisti is a charming family-run B&B with two outposts – both within easy walking distance of Turin's main sites.

The first is located on the Via degli Artisti between the main squares and the river. Housed inside a 19th-century building, the interiors are cosy, with slanted ceilings, terracotta tiles and bookshelves.

In the mornings the mother/daughter team prepares a feast of a breakfast with fresh pastries, jams, cooked eggs and hand-squeezed juice as well as home-made cakes to snack on in the afternoons.

An 8-minute walk away are the serviced attic apartments – also managed by the same family.

Both the B&B and the apartments have kitchenettes with basic food items. Double rooms cost from €90 including breakfast.

What to eat

Piedmont is something of a Mecca for foodies; it boasts white truffles, Nutella as well as excellent meats, cheeses and wines. A trip to Turn isn't complete without sampling Bicerin: the city’s signature drink of molten chocolate, espresso and whipped cream.

One of the best places to try this is Stratta – a local institution that has been running since the 1830s. Its wood-paneled exterior, gold lettering and cast iron lanterns will transport you back to a by-gone era. Inside it’s a cornucopia of sweet pastries, rainbow sweets and local chocolate.

Bicerin - Turin's signature drink

When it comes to savoury food, Scannabue is the place to go. This laid-back trattoria offers some of the best versions you’ll find of local specialities at not unreasonable prices. The black truffle pasta and vitello tonnato (sliced roast veal with a tuna sauce) are must-trys.

For your early evening aperitivo there are plenty of excellent wines from Piedmont to try including Barolo, Nebbiolo and Barbaresco. Tre Galli on the Via Sant'Agostino is a romantic spot to sample these, boasting an extensive cellar with more than 1,200 labels.