Torino (or as we anglophones call it, Turin) is an elegant, manageable city full of life, both in and outdoors. Host of the 2006 Winter Olympics, there’s plenty of Alpine action for skiers and hikers, but for those who hate shivering, there are approximately two million little museums to explore, a good deal of reasonably priced food to eat, and delicious coffee to drink.
- Discovering the city’s piazzas, statues, fountains, and ornate balconies, sometimes with gelato in hand (yes, in January, no judgement necessary, thank you very much).
- A visit to the Museum of the Holy Shroud, whose charming staff and cultural significance redeemed its agonizingly dull forced audio guides.
- Trail-walking in Sant’Ambrogio di Torino, a nearby town presided over by a stone monastery (Sacra di San Michele) on a massive hill. Less than half an hour by train from the center of Turin, the mini-hike took about two and a half hours and rewarded us with close-up vistas of the mighty snow-draped Alps.
- Coffee that doesn’t taste like the bitter poison I’m forced to swallow in France. Oh, how I’ve missed rich, strong coffee that doesn’t make me want to punch someone.
- A 2.50-euro panino, assembled with great care by an elderly Italian man who shuffled gently around his market to collect all of the ingredients (including the best prosciutto I’ve ever had), eaten sitting in a patch of sunlight at the edge of one of Turin’s many tidy, graceful squares.
Travel time: 5 hours by bus each way from Lyon, but 1 hour of that was spent sitting at a rest area near the French border.
Total trip cost: about 100 euros, including travel, accommodation, food, and activities.
Lodging: Hotel Dock Milano at the edge of the center of town. Very well-located, very well-priced (44 euros for a two-person room), clean enough, safe, with a nice staff and a solid free breakfast.