Turin – Piazza San Carlo and around

Piazza San Carlo is one of the most famous squares in the city and a mecca for coffee lovers as it has two of the most beautiful cafes in town, both dating from the nineteenth century.


Caffe San Carlo (Advanced B+), 156 Piazza San Carlo, Tel. 011 532 586 caffesancarlo.it/en

A temple to Art Noveau, this is basically a single room with lots of gilded mirrors and a beautiful chandelier made from Murano glass.



20130513_125952It’s  the older of the two (since 1822) and very formal with snooty waiters in black and white tuxedos.


It was apparently a meeting place for non-conformist intellectuals and was closed by the authorities on a number of occasions. It was also the first place in Europe to have gas lighting.

Nowadays the coffee is fine (B) but less well presented than below.

Caffe Torino
(Advanced A), 204  Piazza San Carlo, Tel. 011 545 118 www.caffe-torino.it

Being larger it’s the most visually impressive of the two with its displays of confectionery and chocolate. I preferred the coffee here as well (B+).

It too is very formal and staffed by some less than friendly baristas. It’s considered good luck to step on the balls of the golden bull inlaid in the pavement outside.

Both cafes serve the local blend from Lavazza.  You can read more about them, and cafes in Turin generally here.

Just up the road is the Mole Antonelliana at 20 Via Montebello. It’s a symbol of the city and one of the strangest buildings you will ever see (more pictures here).



It’s a tall spike dwarfing all the other buildings in the city and with what seems to be a mock Greek temple near the top (actually the viewing deck).

First conceived as a synagogue, the controversial construction was acquired by the city council in 1889 and at the time was the highest brick building in the world. It features on the reverse of Italian two cent coin.
The Mole is now the National Film Museum which has an entry fee but you can also just take the elevator to the top (for €5) to get great views of the city.


Not that Turin is especially interesting from the air, but you can see the foothills of the Alps, which were still snow-covered when I was there in May.

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