Sunday, February 26, 2012

A chocolate festival (2-11 March 2012) in Milan's kissin' cousin: Turin

Like chocolate? What a silly question.

From the 2nd to the 11th of March, 2012, in the downtown Piazza Vittorio Veneto of Turin, Italy's chocolate capital, there will be the "Cioccolatò" fair of chocolate....More......

Lots of stands, more than 6,000 different products, and "Spalm Beach"--complete with lawn chairs--where you can relax, taste, and even be massagged with chocolate. (Why "Spalm"? "Spalmare" means to spread...what everyone loves to do with one of Italy's favorite chocolate treats, Nutella, a spreadable mix of chocolate and hazelnut paste...though I can't say I've ever taken to it, Italians go nuts for it.)

Why Turin? Because the city has a loooooooonng love affair with chocolate, beginning with the cup of hot chocolate offered in 1560 by the duke of Savoy, Emanuele Filiberto, to the city to celebrate the transferral of his dukedom's capital from Chambéry to their town, now full of caffés offering this marvelous stuff (it's like hot chocolate pudding...are you salivating, yet?).

Turin is a wonderful city with a long and fascinating history. The pre-Romans were called Taurini (perhaps meaning "people from the mountains," though the symbol "taur" was rendered by the head of a bull, a "toro"), while Romans established a military camp there in the first century B.C. to protect their northern borders. In the early Middle Ages, the city bordered the lands of the Franks, while the association with the Savoy line popped up in the Romanesque period. Love history? Turin's official newspaper, the Eco di Torino, offers some info in Italian with handy pre-fab buttons for Google Translator, which gives you a rough idea of the text in rough English:

Want to know more before you go? Turin smartly offers a wide range of official tourism info in English (yeah!), including maps, hotel info, traveling info, museums and events, history in a nutshell, WiFi, etc.: They also have an official city web site in English (yeah!), with practical information, particularly for English-speakers living in the city:

I can't resist recommending at least two museums: the Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio, look under "Egizio" on the tourism web site's page dedicated to museums), one of the most important Egyptian museums in all the world, second only to the one in Cairo, and the museum in the historic Mole Antonelliana dedicated to movies (look under "Cinema" in that same list). Even if you're not a great fan of the history of the movie industry, the spectacles of the exhibits are great fun in and of themselves.

Wanna go? Want the skinny? It takes from one to two hours on one of Italy's national train service (Trenitalia) trains, depending on the service chosen. Cost? Reasonable. For a one-way second class ticket on the 1 hour train, it's currently just under E. 35.00(ca. $50), while for the 2 hour train, it's only about E. 11.00 (ca. $15.50). You can check the schedules and buy tickets on their website in English (yeah!), and chose to print out the ticket on your own printer. You can enter these city names in English or in Italian (Milano, Torino), but remember that usually only the more well-known cities have an English version, in case you want to go somewhere else, too:

A "heads up"...Turin, like many other Italian cities, has more than one train station. Sometimes the train stations are dedicated to services belonging to different companies (national and private). Sometimes the city is big enough--as in Turin's case--to warrant two stations. They're often signaled on the web site and in printed train guides only with their initials. Oh man...which one to choose?! For other cities, try Google maps. For Turin, get off at the P.N.--for Porta Nuova / New City Gate--station; it's the most central one. Once there, get a map, and walk. The heart of downtown is small enough so that you won't need to take public transportation if you don't suffer from mobility problems.



Susan Lazear said...

Hi Star

We are coming to Milan with our students at the end of March/early April.

I would love to connect. And if you know of things we should see, can you email me? via cochenille or my email if you have it.


Star said...

Yeah! I'll write to the e-mail I have.

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