Is there a better way to while away an afternoon or two in beautiful Turin, than to wander throughout the city sampling chocolate truffles, drinking hot chocolate, or eating cake? Possibly, but who cares? Let’s eat!
Turin has five main Tourist Information Centers, but the one most likely to have an English speaker is located conveniently in Piazza Castello. At these centers, for only 12 euro, you can purchase a ChocoPass. It functions as a set of 10 coupons, for both free samples of the shops’ wares as well as discounts on purchases, and is usable for two full days (though not a single shop asked to see the date on my pass). You walk into a chocolate or pastry shop, ask for a sample in your best Italian, hand them a coupon, and walk away with a few delicious treats. So why buy it you may ask? Well, for these reasons:
- You get a fair amount of chocolate for the money, saving a few euros in the long run.
- Several of the shops are off the beaten path, so you’ll see a bit more of the city than you normally would.
- It’s great for adults and children alike since you literally will be kids in candy stores.
- You can practice your Italian, which is always appreciated in Turin. If it’s good enough, and the shopkeeper is friendly, you can learn quite a bit about the hundreds of kinds of items each store has. Just politely point and say “Signora, che cosa è questo?”
- The chocolate is quite rich, so, unless you’re very hungry, two people could share the chocolate booty, and the price of the pass.
- You get a discount if you decide to purchase anything.
- The pass comes with a map so you cannot get lost. This map is also much smaller than the standard tourist map, so I easily carried it around with me the rest of my trip.
- You do a fair amount of walking, which, I feel justified the sugar calories I ingested.
I spent two rainy afternoons using my pass up completely, though you could do it all in one day if you were more ambitious than myself. The pass gives you two or three location choices per coupon, so the reviews below do not constitute every shop. However, I stuck to those nearest the center of town, and in a natural order for walking and for easy navigation. All opinions are of course my own, and you may have a different experience. If you do, leave me a comment!
1. Confetteria Stratta
Start you tour by leaving Piazza Castello and strolling down Via Roma to beautiful piazza San Carlo. Feel free to purchase some Gucci along the way. Stratta wins my award for best packaging. There are gorgeous boxes with various photos of Turin on their lids, that come in hundreds of sizes and colors. They also have a huge selection of jelly beans that I highly recommend trying. The sample of chocolate truffles you receive is also a good size.
2. Caffè Torino
Also in Piazza San Carlo is Caffè Torino, already a tourist destination due to its famous glowing Martini sign (by the way, vermouth was invented in Turin) hanging in the portico, as well as a golden bull inlaid into the sidewalk that you rub for good luck. Alas, it wins the awards for stingiest sample and lack of enthusiasm. Take a picture, rub the bull, but head to the other location on your pass.
3. Guido Gobino
Guiso Gobino wins awards for both “high class” looking establishment, as well as largest tasting sample! They also have a variety of tasty looking jars of sauces. Don’t miss this one!
A tiny shop compared to the others, but wins the award for nicest proprietor. Not only was he enthusiastic in his welcome and chatted with me about where I was from, but he let me choose my own truffles, and gave me a free coffee to go with them!
I ended my first cold day at Divizia, with a free “cioccolata calda“ and a plate of yummy small cookies. Thicker and far more delicious than ‘American’ hot chocolate, this one unfortunately does not hold a candle to Caffè Mulassano’s in Piazza Castello. Mulassano isn’t on the ChocoPass, but trust me, go there. However, Divizia also has a large selection of gourmet goods from across the Piemonte Region, as well as a restaurant with organic and local food selections.
6. Cioccolato Peyrano
This shop wins for its awesome decorations, as they went all out for the holidays with their glowing windows and ceiling decor, and their beautiful gift baskets. They’re a little skimpy on the chocolate, but once you take a glance at their seemingly steep prices, you might see why. Don’t forget you get a discount!
Also quite expensive, but they have a wider selection of goods, as well as a bigger bag to take away with you.
I mention this one only because it has permanently moved to a new location different from what’s listed on the pass, Corso Vinzaglio 25C, but I didn’t have time to backtrack and find it.
9. Al Bicerin
I ended my delightful and scrumptious tour at Al Bicerin. Do not, under any circumstances, leave Turin without a visit here! Though you already get a free slice of cake, I strongly recommend purchasing a bicerin as well. A warm and comforting local specialty, it’s a triple-layered beverage of coffee, chocolate, and foamed cream. Owned continuously by women (since 1763!), Al Bicerin is candlelit and romantic, and has a beautiful view of the Piazza Consolata and its famous church.
If you’re like me, you are now quivering with a delightful sugar rush, but, the ChocoPass barely scratches the surface of Turin’s history of delicious chocolatey goodness. There is infinitely more to taste and see here!
Top 5 Turin Hotels near Piazza Castello
- Hotel Chelsea – 3-star hotel – double room from €85
- Hotel Town House 70 – 4-star hotel – double room from €172
- Hotel NH Santo Stefano – 4-star hotel – double room from €224
- Hotel Le Petit – 3-star hotel – double room from €69
- Alba Hotel - 1-star hotel – double room from €52
Photo of glass of bicerin at Al Bicerin café, Turin, Italy, by Pepperazzi