Turin is a much underrated City full of history, museums, monuments, bars, restaurants and everything you would expect from an Italian Provincial Capital. Our friends Robert and Leslie Alexander at Travel Langhe often take visitors there who are invariably surprised at its charm: check out their excellent app. in “Links”. We had another reason to go, apart from a desire for an ethnic food fix, as I had an Apple Hard Disc to exchange with one of their agents. The train from Asti was a simple process and on arrival we set off on foot, without high expectations, to Shizen recommended by a local producer neighbour. Ethnic food is generally not available in this part of the world where Carne Cruda, Vitello Tonnato and Tajarin are omnipresent.
Following a beautiful walk across the Po with the snow covered Alps in the background we were ready for lunch and were not remotely disappointed by the quality of the lunchtime menu. Manageable bite sized sushi, excellent miso soup and salad was just €15; similarly priced were chicken terriaki and butter fish.
My favourite was a spiced roll of scallop tempura and asparagus added in celebration of it not being a “fast day”. A nice bottle of Erbaluce from the surprisingly extensive wine list was also inexpensive. Apparently they run cooking classes once a month so we have an excuse to go back.
A wander back across the river to the historic centre was the perfect antidote, taking in the Castello, Royal Palace and a traditional Torinese Bicerin (espresso, drinking chocolate and whole milk served layered in a small rounded glass) in the one of the beautiful traditional cafes. It was time for a 2k detour on foot to sort out my hard disc arranged by email a full week before. Was it ready? Of course not. Could it be ready quickly? Certainly not we were in Italy. Could it be posted? Certainly For €22 (still waiting!). The look and the dismissive shrug of the assistant coupled with my rising anger (in Italian of course) was apparently priceless according to Robert. Nothing for it but to pay up and beat a retreat to meet the girls in a bar 2k away.
I was ready for an aperitivo and it was waiting in the form of a bottle Donnafugata Anthìlia at Bar San Quintino 6. Memorable nibbles (stuzzichini) were way too much while we waited for our chosen dinner venue to open, although a second bottle of wine was necessary.
A speedy curry at 7 around the corner from the station would just give us time to catch the 8.30 Intercity fast train back to Asti.
Christmas was everywhere and the giant cartoon Nativity scene in the nearby park was a stunning reminder. The meal at Curry Zone was just like mama makes in Delhi or Eastbourne for that matter and I absolutely loved the Meera Indian beer that I’d never come across before. We just had time for the terrific home-made Kulfi and we were off and running for the (non-existent) 8.30 express which only manifests itself on the Trennitalia website and on our printed, reserved seat tickets bought that morning! Still there was a slow, stop at all stations train leaving 5 minutes later. A nuisance but no problem. After a couple of stations I thought I would check the maps displayed in the carriage to see how may stops there were. Great idea but the Network displayed and the detailed route map had no mention of Asti or anywhere close. Although the warning to mind the sliding doors looked fun.
We drew comfort from the fact that Asti was definitely displayed on the platform when we boarded so decided to cross our fingers. At least there wasn’t a sudden strike (sciopero) as happens here from time to time, and 30 minutes later than planned we crawled back into familiar territory.
Make sure to include Turin in your itinerary.