Enrico Marone Cinzano's Guide to Turin, Italy

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Designer, Count, and all-around Renaissance man Enrico Marone Cinzano shares his picks for dining, shopping, and sightseeing in the historic capital of Piedmont.

A talent for creating elegant, quality objects might as well be Italian designer Enrico Marone Cinzano’s blood right—his paternal great-great-grandfather founded Cinzano vermouth and his maternal great-great-grandfather established FIAT Automobiles. It’s hardly surprising then that the Torino-born, Massachusetts-educated businessman and creative would go on to launch a sustainable fashion label, Project Alabama, in 2001, and a self-titled, nature-inspired furniture and lighting collection 11 years later. With a true passion for his hometown, Marone Cinzano shares his must-dos in Turin, from where to find the most authentic dish to the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning.

What neighborhood are you from, and how long did you live there? I lived on the hill of Superga, just underneath the cathedral (Basilica of Superga). It was designed by Filippo Juvarra and it is a beautiful, classic Baroque building that is typical of the region (Strada Basilica di Superga, 73; 39-011/899-7456; basilicadisuperga.com).

Where would you put up friends visiting town? The Golden Palace, the most luxurious hotel in town by far! It is a large structure built during the Fascist era and houses these incredible and intricate sculptures holding up the frontal canopy. The entrance hall is clad in brownish marble and it stands out as totally modern hotel in what is a relatively old city (Via dell'Arcivescovado, 18; 39-011/551-2111; allegroitalia.it).

Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? Ristorante il Cambio has the best gnocchi with fontina cheese. It is a very Piemontese dish. The restaurant has been around since 1757 and it is in front of Palazzo Carignano, an imposing all-brick Palace. Besides the immaculately restored interiors, the food is incredible and the service very traditional (Piazza Carignano, 2; 39-011/546-690; delcambio.it).

What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? Il Cambio: Beautiful, historic, elegant and 100 percent Turinese. It really does not get any more traditional than that and perfect for a more stylish evening on the town. For something more rustic, la Trattoria della Posta is also a spectacular dining experience (Strada Mongreno, 16; 39-011/898-0193; trattoriadellaposta.com).

Where can you find the best cocktails? Wine list? The bar of the Golden Palace or the Principi di Piemonte. The Piemonte region is well known for its wines, be it Barolo or Barbera, to mention a few, so I would go for a great red and ask the sommelier for the best bet. I’m not much of a drinker so I'd order the sciroppo di orzata cocktail, which is a sweet milky drink made with orgeat (Via Piero Gobetti, 15; 39-06/6964-6964; atahotels.it).

Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? Torino is not about going out at night really. It is a very conservative city and perfect for the mature tourist interested in 17th- and 18th-century culture, baroque art, and time-honored dining experiences. It is a place where people can savor the most impeccable local wines, such as a Barolo. If you are able to, you must see an opera at the Teatro Regio di Torino. The architecture of the space is absolutely breathtaking and it will be a once in a lifetime experience (Piazza Castello, 215; 39-011/881-5557; teatroregio.torino.it).

What is your go-to after-hours bar? The music scene is quite advanced, as most of the techno in Italy comes from Torino. BLAH BLAH is the most exciting late-night venue (Via Po, 21; 392-011/704-5240). It features an eclectic mix of music where most live acts perform. And if you happen to be in Torino in November, there is the Club to Club music festival, which pulls the largest artists from around the world. I think this year Thom Yorke and Jamie xx are headlining (clubtoclub.it).

What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? Taking a long walk under the arches from Piazza Vittorio Emanuele all the way to Via Roma. You will see the Church of the Madre di Dio, Palazzo Madama, the Royal Armory, and the unbelievable Museo Egizio—it is only second to the one in Alexandria. And don’t forget to notice the electric trams! They are nostalgic and transport you to another century. Another interesting place to visit is the Lingotto, a former factory of FIAT, which has now been converted. There you can visit the Pinacoteca Agnelli, a small collection of paintings but of the highest quality (Via Nizza, 230/103; 392-011/006-2713; pinacoteca-agnelli.it)

What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? Sundays are a good time to step back and reflect, so I like to visit the Basilica of Superga: the view of the city and the Alps is breathtaking. Or you can go to the Monte dei Cappuccini and take in the beauty of the space. Italy’s best architecture and views were always given as offering to the Catholic Church, and now can be enjoyed by everyone. Or you might want to check out the Balon, a really interesting flea market, full of surprises (Via Bernardino Lanino, 5; 39-011/521-3270; ilbalon.it).

Where is the best brunch? Torino is not a brunch city—people go to bars or small trattorias for local fare. But they do walk around before dinner and stop at various bars to get an ‘aperitivo,’ meaning a drink, or two, and some smaller tapas-like entrees. 

Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? Caffe’ Torino (Piazza San Carlo, 204; 39-011/545-118; caffe-torino.it) and Bar Baratti (Piazza Castello, 29; 39-011/440-7138; barattiemilano.it), which is adjacent to the Galleria San Federico—a precursor to today’s version of a shopping mall. For a younger, authentic coffee shop feel, check out ORSO (Via Berthollet, 30). It is where everyone goes.

What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? From the Mole Antonelliana! It was built in 1863 originally as a synagogue and now houses the National Museum of Cinema (Via Montebello, 20; 39-011/813-8511; museocinema.it). Not many know you can actually go all the way up and see the city for the cupula. Another less obvious view is from the front of Palazzo Madama (Piazza Castello, 10122; 39-011/443-3501; palazzomadamatorino.it), where you can look straight all the way to the Stazione Centrale. 

What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? Wandering around the more narrow streets of the Quadrato, the oldest part of the city. It is not as ornate as the rest of the center but it is very authentic and often overlooked.

What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? The Church of the Consolata. Once you go inside you can see the Ex Votos—votive offering given by hundreds, if not thousands, over the centuries to thank the Virgin Mary for saving them from all sorts of perils and diseases. It can be quite touching as you can witness and feel the faith of the people. Most are intricately, handmade in a completely honest style and full of emotion (Piazza della Consolata; 39-011/483-6100; laconsolata.org)

What’s your favorite shop or boutique? Gobbino chocolate store! (Via Lagrange, 1; 39-011/566-0707; guidogobino.it) But then Torino is full of all sorts of really interesting and traditional stores from a by-gone era such as Provasoli (Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 10; 39-011/812-9044; provasoli.it). It is an amazing fabric store where you can find all sorts of materials impossible to get anywhere else. Other boutiques worth mentioning are (in my opinion) the best cheese store, Borgiattino (Corso Vinzaglio, 29; 39-011/899-1415; borgiattino.com), the unforgettable wine dispensary and cellar Menietti (Piazza Savoia, 10122; 39-011/436-9438; www.menietti.it), and the Bourlot book store for antique books and prints (Via Po, 7; 39-011/537-405; bourlot.it). Olympic, a clothing store in Piazza San Carlo, is THE store and has been for ages. It is so old fashioned it does not even have a website. But the best part of the store is the basement, which looks like it was frozen in time and has a wonderful selection of classic men’s apparel—super traditional and conservative. For up-to-date multi-brand fashions, try San Carlo dal 1973 (Piazza S. Carlo, 201; 39-011/511-4111; sancarlodal1973.com).

What’s the ultimate souvenir from your town—something you can only get there? Torino is the capital of confectionary. There is nothing like the chocolate spread you get there. Or for people with less of a sweet tooth, the fontina cheese from the Alps is unlike anything you will get anywhere else. The city was built as the seed of power for the Italian King and the court—it was truly the epicurean center of the region.

What’s the best-kept local secret? The best kept secret of Torino IS Torino itself. It has not yet been fully discovered. Having said that, there is also an established art scene—a good example being the Artissima Fair (Via Bertola, 34; 39-011/1974-4106; artissima.it), which has been growing in popularity. Then there is Flashback (Via Cernaia, 14; 39-011/1946-4324; flashback.to.it), the Fondazione Merz (Via Limone, 24; 39-011/1971-9437; fondazionemerz.org), and small, but cool galleries such as Nopx (Via Guastalla 6; nopx.it) and Quartz (Via Giulia di Barolo; 39-338/429-0085; quartzstudio.net).

In our Hometown Guides series, we're seeking the best restaurants, bars, vistas, and things to do in a given place from the people who know best—the artists, designers, chefs, and store-owners who live there. See more Hometown Guides »

Photo Credits: Getty Images; Marco Secchi / Getty Images