Tag: Torino

Unique Places to Visit in Northern Italy

I have been living in Italy now for three years, and every year I spend here I discover new and exciting thing about this magical and enchanting country.

I started off my experience here much like everyone else and my travel list was to be expected – Rome, Venice, Florence, Vatican City.  These places were undeniably amazing, but sharing the experience of seeing the Sistine Chapel shared with 50 other tourists or waiting over an hour in line to see Venice cathedral makes the experience a little less special.  The longer I have lived in Italy the more I have discovered the real gems of this country are the places less known of, that you have to search to find, or that involve a degree of adventure.  It’s in these moments that you see the real Italy.  The Italy with a big heart and amazing food that welcomes you in like a long lost family member.

If you want to experience a little of that (and why wouldn’t you?!) then here are my favorite unique places to travel in Northern Italy.  Maybe you can try and squeeze some in on your next visit to Milan, Venice or Florence…

Unique Places to Visit in Northern Italy

Parma.

The region of Parma is known for its incredible food – specifically it’s hams, cheeses and olive oil.  The best time to visit is in November when the Fall food festivals are in full swing and you can combine a morning of city site seeing with a local foodie festival.  We combined our visit with ‘November Pork’ a festival which celebrates food from local farms including cheeses, home-made pastas, wine and of course ham, salami and pork.

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Lake Como.

Located only an hour from Milan on the train, Lake Como is a perfect place to escape from the city and pass a day relaxing by the water.  Take a boat ride on the lake to visit the old villa’s and mansion’s of old Italian aristocracy or get lost walking around one of the little villages dotted along the lake’s edge.

Verona

Arguably one of the more touristy locations, Verona is definitely still worth a visit.  Take a local bike or walking tour around the city and take in the mix of ancient roman architecture and renaissance art dotted around the city center.  Visit the Amphitheater and Juliette’s (of Romeo & Juliette) balcony and then finish your day at a open air restaurant in one of the cites beautiful plazas.

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Lake Garda.

Located between Verona & Venice, Lake Garda is a beautiful, tranquil spot with little villages lining to shore of the lake.  Two places worth visiting are Peschiera del Garda and Sirmione where you can spend a day walking around their quiet streets, taking boat rides on the lake and eating seafood in sunny plazas.

Alba.

Another place to visit during the Fall, Alba comes alive through the month of November for the International Truffle Festival.  Plan your visit so you can spend a day exploring the exhibition, tasting the truffles and visiting local deli’s and wine stores.  Then finish up by visiting vineyards and farm based restaurants in the surrounding countryside to experience truffle eating at its best.

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Torino.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, Torino is an elegant and characteristic city 120km north of Milan.  The city has a more local feel but still offers lots of museums, churches, restaurants and sunny plazas so you can get your culture fix.  Strolling around the city and exploring its piazza’s and cobbled streets is a fun way to spend a day out of Milan.

Are you planning a trip to Northern Italy? Let me know where you are thinking about going in the comments below…

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6 Must Do Things in Torino

Torino (or Turin in English) is located in the north west of Italy in the Piemonte region.  Originally the capital of Italy, it’s an elegant and grand city made up of wide boulevards, sweeping plazas and old marble arcades.  It feels less touristy than Italy’s other major cities and spending a day or two strolling around allows you to observe city life and local Italian customs without the heavy crowds of Rome or Venice.

I have visited Torino twice, both times with visiting friends and family, and found I fell in love instantly with the compelling mix of culture, architecture, restaurants and wine bars.  Located 120km from Milan it’s possible to arrive in under an hour on the fast train so makes the perfect place for a day trip.  Here are my 6 must-do’s while visiting Torino…

Visiting Torino - 6 Must Do Things

1 – Try some Chocolate from a Traditional Chocolate Cafe.

The Piemonte region is famous for growing hazelnuts and a result of this is they make really incredible chocolate! Torino city center is full of traditional chocolate shops and cafes, all of which have inviting counters displaying hand-made chocolate and treats.

2 – Take the Lift Up the Mole Antonelliana & Admire the City Views.

You can’t miss the beautiful and unusual architecture of the Mole Antonelliana towering above the city skyline.  Taking the lift up to the top of the tower allows you to admire the architecture up close and gives you panoramic views of the city below.

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3 – Visit the Film Museum.

Inside the building of the Mole Antonelliana is the Torino Film Museum.  One of the coolest museums I have visited in Italy, the museum features exhibits on cameras through the ages, optical illusions, famous film sets, movie props and 3D cinema.  It feels really crazy and as you walk through the rooms you don’t know what you might find next.

4 – See Mummies at the Egyptian Museum.

Torino also has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo housed in the Egyptian Museum.  See ancient Mummies, Sarcophagus, painted tombs, royal jewellery and even a Sphinx!

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5 – Stroll Through the Widest Plaza in Europe.

Torino’s ‘Piazza Vittorio Veneta’ is the widest plaza in Europe, with wide boulevards stretching between marble archways, elegant shop fronts and open air cafes.  The plaza finishes by opening up onto the banks of the River Po.  Take a walk around the plaza and finish up on the river where you can walk across the bridge and enter the beautiful church on the other side.

6 – Have Dinner in a Local Trattoria.

The Piemonte region is famous for being one of the best regions in Italy for food.  So make sure to eat in a little ‘trattoria’ – a simple style restaurant serving up local dishes from the region.  These places are frequented by locals and have menus based on the season so you are sure to try some authentic Italian cuisine.

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