Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Laura Teso
One of the things I liked the most when I visited the capital of Piedomont were its Cafés. The historic Cafés in Turin have luckily been preserved more or less like they once were. So we can still enjoy their elegant, refined atmosphere. They were the meeting-places of politicians, aristocrats, artists and gluttons of the city.
Historic Cafés in Turin
Caffè del Cambio
Caffé del Cambio dates back to 1757. It is located in front of Palazzo Carignano, seat of the Subalpine parliament. Cavour used to have breakfast or enjoy short breaks here during the day. Rumor has it that his secretary would make signals through the window across the street in case of need.
If you want to know what to do in the city, go to my previous post to read more about it:What to do in Turin
Caffè al Bicerin
Al Bicerin [bee-tcheh-REEN] is THE place when you want to try the famous bicerin (meaning small glass), because it was invented right here in 1763. The drink consists of hot chocolate, coffee and cream. Among the lovers of this drink: Cavour, Picasso, Dumas, Puccini, Hemingway (who included it among the 100 things to save from our world) and Umberto Eco. On the evening I went there to try it there was a huge queue to sit, but only 5 persons in line to taste the bicerin standing up outside, so we went for it. And I liked it very much.
Baratti & Milano
Baratti & Milano is a beautiful art nouveau café, facing on one side Piazza Castello and on the other side the Subalpina Gallery. After creating a famous type of Italian praline, the cremino, Ferdinando Baratti and the colleague Edoardo Milano, moved to the current location in 1875. It soon became the most beloved place for intellectuals and politicians, so much so that it became the official supplier of the Royal House. I enjoyed a hot chocolate with whipped cream all by myself sitting at one of their elegant tables, since Matteo got the flu on the third day. Winter!
Caffè Torino is located in Piazza San Carlo. At the entrance, on the floor you can see a brass bull. You have to step on its “private parts” as luckbringer. Oh my God, I now realized I stepped on the bull, but maybe not on its private parts. That’s why it didn’t work. 😀 I only took a couple of photos of the beautiful Art Nouveau decor and did not order anything here.
Gelateria Pepino is the most ancient gelateria in Europe (1884). Here the first gelato on a stick was invented in 1938, the pinguino (penguin, for the color). This gelato has different names in Italy, other than pinguino: cremino, mottarello or ricoperto. It is basically cream on a stick covered with a layer of chocolate. Here at Pepino you can find several flavours, in place of the cream one: rose, violet, mint, coffee and more. I tried the violet one and I liked it very much. Next time I’d like to try rose. I love these two flavors. Every time I find a macarons shop I have these 2. But it was the first time I found them in a mottarello.
Caffè Mulassano is a small cafè along the porticos of Piazza Castello. Their specialty are the tramezzini, invented here in 1925. They were pricey (€3) for the small size but very tasty. It was the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio who invented for them the word tramezzino. Apparently he enjoyed them very much. I’m a tramezzini fan myself.
A little detached from the city center, it is located along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. The first thing you notice is the peculiar shop sign: a waiter with an evil grin. I couldn’t help but take a picture with “him”. That’s all I did. I did not get inside. One of its customers was Gianni Agnelli. By the way, Juventus FC was founded here.
Caffè Fiorio: located along via Po, it dates back to 1780. The gelato cone was invented here. In fact, gelato is their specialty. But, since I was in Turin winter, I skipped it, hoping to have the chance to try it in the future. I know, I had gelato at Pepino. But one was enough in those cold days. This café has also the nickname Machiavelli café because of the conservative politicians who used to come here.
Roma già Talmone: it is conveniently located right in front of Porta Nuova train station so that if you come to Turin by train it can be the first stop.
Caffè San Carlo
Caffè San Carlo opened in 1822 in Piazza San Carlo. It soon became one of the favorite meeting points for patriots and intellectuals of the Risorgimento. It was also the first place in town to use gaslighting. Here I had my merenda reale, precisely in the Chinese room, dating back to 1851.
This is a wonderful initiative of Turismo Torino (I was offered the merenda) to experience a custom of 1700s at the royal court. In some of the city cafés (only on Saturday and Sunday) you can enjoy the merenda. It consists of a bicerin (1700s style merenda) or a hot chocolate (1800s style merenda), accompanied by several different sweet treats. The price is €10-12 per person.
More info at turismotorino.org
How about you? Which one of the Historic Cafés in Turin is your favorite?