Seven days sampling chocolate in Turin. That was the plan. A chocoholics dream, right? There was one problem. I had no appetite for chocolates. WHAT?! Since when do I pass up chocolate? The problem was that this California girl couldn’t take the heat nor the humidity, especially the humidity. July in Italy is hardly the time to be sampling chocolate, especially during a heat wave. I knew this. My original plan was to be there now (in November) and letting hot chocolates and bicerins warm me from the fall weather. I had been here before and took the Chocolate Pass tour. I planned on delving even farther into the chocolate world of the city, but things got switched around, and I ended up in Italy in July. Instead of changing my November plan to one that would work better with the summer climate, I stuck to one that had me in Turin in July.
It was 40°C and a humidity level so high that if you were alive you were sweating. Far from any attractive "glisten" or "glow." No, this was the kind that drips from your jaw, chin, and fingertips and soaks through your clothes. The kind that forms puddles in the space between eyelids and cheekbones and in the bends of your arms and knees. It wasn't pretty.
This food lover had no appetite. Well, almost no appetite. I did crave one thing……gelato, remembering that the gelato here was pretty good. In the course of seven days, and at least 100 scoops later, I realized the gelato is sensational in Turin, dense and creamy and the flavors were intense and pure. I’d have to say Turin's gelaterie rivals the best gelato in Rome, where people are making their Eat, Pray, Love gelato pilgrimages. Hey pilgrims, you need to make your way up to Turin, too!
Here are seven sensational gelaterie in Turin, where I went back for seconds (and even thirds):
The highest quality ingredients and a real pride for being artisans is the common thread with these gelato producers. Great choices are the flavors of Piedmont - gianduja (milk chocolate/hazelnut combination born in Turin), hazelnut, and torroncino (like the Italian nougat candy). Pistachio, dark chocolate (fondente), and seasonal fruits are also good choices. Looks like I had quite an appetite for chocolate after all.
Alberto Marchetti (aka AM) – corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 24 bis
High quality ingredients used to make some of the best gelato in the city.
Cremeria Ghigo – via Po, 52b
Both a pasticceria (pastry shop) and gelateria, this is one of the oldest gelaterie in Turin. Top your gelato with their legendary panna (whipped cream)
Gatsby’s – via soleri 2
You’re getting a 3fer with Gatsby's. Gatsby's owner also owns these other two places and serve the same gelato:
Mokita – Piazza San Carlo
Caffe Roma Gia Talmone – Piazza Carlo Felice
Pepino – Piazza Carignano
Another historic gelateria in Turin. Don Pepino was born in Napoli (no wonder I like this place) and moved to Turin in 1884. Pepino invented "il pinguino" (the penguin), the first gelato da passeggio (gelato for strolling/walking). Plain (crema) gelato covered in chocolate and on a stick, the "Eskimo Pie." You can find "il pinguino" in other flavors: gianduja (chocolate & hazelnut), nocciola (hazelnut), caffe (coffee), viola (violet) and menta (mint)
Mondello – Piazza Emanuele Filiberto, 8
The owners of Mondello (named after the beach in Palermo) come from Sicily. The specialties are the flavors of Sicily: pistachio, mandorla (almond), chocolate, Passito di Pantelleria (a sweet wine of Sicily made into gelato). Don't forget to have the granite during the summer. They also make cannoli and cassata. The gelateria is in what's known as the "Palermo Quarter" of Turin, as many from Palermo move to Turin for work.
Piu di un Gelato – via San Tommaso, 6
All the chocolate flavors are outstanding, as is the lemon.
GROM – 4 locations in Turin, the original and most centrally located is Piazza Paleocapa (near the Porta Nuova Train Station)
Highest quality organic products. They now have their own farm and have 31 locations in Italy and 4 outside of Italy - one in Paris, New York, and coming to Malibu (yes, I'll be driving to LA for gelato). The Piazza Paleocapa is its first location. Every flavor is delicious.
I'm not really unhappy about the heatwave during my Turin stay. I was able to taste a lot of gelato, have another reason to return to Turin, and I learned a few other things about travel in Italy:
When it’s 40° C anywhere and you’re one of the worst packers in the world, you should make sure your hotel/lodging is not at the top of a 200-meter climb.
The heat can beat the testadura (hard head - my mom’s nickname for me) right out of you. After Turin I changed my itinerary to coastal travel until the heat wave let up. **Note: It did take a few more episodes of heat exhaustion for me to thoroughly learn my lesson. A later trip to Camogli and attempting a 3-hour hike with only a half liter of water was one of those episodes.
I would call gelato a life saver, as I'm sure it staved off any bouts with heat exhaustion while I was in Turin.