A city break with kids has its own advantages and challenges but in a country like Italy, that has images of the Madonna and Child everywhere, taking your bambino out and about with you is second nature. Turin, in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, has a lot to offer families so here’s the Tots2Travel rundown of the best bits.
1 Visit the Mole Antonelliana – if you’re scared of heights this isn’t for you but I love getting a view of a city and getting my bearings. The lift at the Mole takes you through the centre of the National Cinema Museum to a viewing platform 95 metres high. The sensation of rising through the museum in a glass box is exhilarating – lots of positive squeals from Mr Toddler, meanwhile Mr Baby amused the lift porter by clearly not giving a stuff and refusing to smile at anyone. At the top you have panoramic views of the city, taking in the Alps and the river Po. When we visited in May, on a rainy day, the queues weren’t too bad but it may be worth visiting early or late in the day in high season. There was also a space to leave buggies at the foot of the lift which was practical and reassuring.
2 Visit the National Cinema Museum – film aficionados will love this museum and its information but if you’re hurtling around after an enthusiastic toddler there’s lots to enjoy even if you can’t stop and fully digest the placards. Highlights for kids included the daguerrotypes eyepieces to view various scenes, green screening yourself onto flying objects (like a star wars extra) or falling down a tunnel (like Indiana Jones) – I found my inner child again so click on the links to watch the clips. Chilling out on one of the sofa beds on the ground floor watching films, with surround sound coming out of the top of your chair, was also a highlight- Mr Baby slept as the rest of us watched movies.
3 Eat Chocolate – Turin is renowned for its chocolate. We opted to sample it at one of the city’s revered historic cafes – Baratti & Milano. In this opulent and indulgent space we didn’t see anyone under the age of 21 but we took our boys in anyway. They sampled an apple tart (I kidded myself this was the healthy option) whilst Mr Husband had a classic hot chocolate (thick, dark, rich and luscious) and I had the Baratti & Milano Coffee which was a mix of coffee, chocolate, cream and hazelnuts – rather perfect.
4 Eat Gelato – there’s several renowned gelaterias in Turin so we took a personal recommendation from a friend and hit up Fiorio in Piazza Castello. With flavours like Nocciola (hazelnut), Gianduja (hazelnut chocolate) and Torroncino (almond/nougat) you get to taste local delicacies in frozen form. We got the frozen yogurt for the boys and it went down a storm.
5 Eat Pizza – I admit my kids’ diet is starting to sound appalling but when in Rome… (or Turin). We were lucky to get one of the last tables at a buzzing trattoria that was full of families, friends and couples having a Saturday night out. Regina Margherita on Via del Carmine was quite simply delicious. An unassuming, lively yet homely eaterie.
6 Visit the Markets – there are regular markets near Via Milano (where our central apartment was located) so we were lucky to buy fresh goods from local suppliers and trip back to our self catering accommodation. Buying the food, letting Mr Toddler pay for it and carrying home his precious cargo before cooking it was a fun ‘learning’ experience.
7 Visit the Cathedral – Children are the future of the church but when we dropped by Turin’s duomo (cathedral) I was surprised to see about 40 priests taking confession with locals queuing to gently mumble their sins. There was a hushed reverence in the air and Mr Baby seemed to enjoy the quiet – Mr Toddler was asleep which probably helped. We also saw the replica Turin Shroud which is on display within the cathedral. If you have a buggy avoid the Italian job style stairs by using the lift access by the side door.
8 Slow Food – Eataly – the story of the Slow Food Movement started in Piedmont in a small town called Bra, 58 km from Turin. Now the movement is just part of how Turinese shop, buy and dine. [This warrants a separate post in itself]. To visit the Slow Food supermarket of the city head to Eataly and pick up all the goodies you desire. You can also dine at Eataly but the system didn’t work for us – you bag a table then queue at your preferred counter (meat or fish or antipasti etc.) to order your meal. The queues were long when we visited but the food did look good.
9 Metro – I didn’t expect to mention public transport as a highlight but the kids’ seats on the Metro are pretty cool. It was like being on the starship enterprise in warp mode. What a cool way to get around.
10 Fiat – for car fanatics it’s a no brainer to visit the Fiat museum in the Lingotto area close to Eataly. Vroom!
11 Architecture – generally wandering around the piazzas and happening upon churches and palazzos in the sun works for any age – taking the baby for a walk has never been so appealing.
12 For the adults – if in Turin you have to try a Bicerin – a mix of dark coffee and dark chocolate – beautiful. On our street was a charming cafe called Il Gusto Giusto with pretty stupendous cakes and delicious bicerin. And film buffs may also wish to seek out the Church of the Great Mother of God and its famous stairs where The Italian Job notably featured its epic car chase.
Any Downsides? Compared to the UK the green spaces, parks and play parks weren’t particularly notable but there’s plenty other things to do with family.
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