Tag Archives: Food Blog

How Can You Not Love New York City?

I like New York City a lot, and although it’s not my favorite city, I do appreciate its amazing museums and grand theaters.  I love the neighborhoods that stretch all the way from the Battery to the Bronx and the new Brooklyn, unrecognizable to my wife now who went to Bayridge High School and grew up a stone’s throw from the Verrazano Straights.  New York has a busyness to it with its big, broad avenues, and trying to catch the pedestrian lights as you walk so you don’t need to stop and can just zig zag your way from 30th to the park. I love Soho and the Village and always wondered where I would live (probably Soho although the park is stunning).  So my question on New York is why is it so ratty in places?  London can be patchy and the outskirts of Paris are dreadful, but we are talking downtown New York City.  It’s very uneven to me.  Fun, but dirty, and even the late-night scene is sketchy.

My favorite restaurant in the city is Esca.  I love this place – great seafood, nice wine list, but honestly, it’s stuck in the seediest part of town on 43rd Street and 9th Ave, next to porn shops and dodgy quick bites.  It’s weird, New York.  The transportation hubs just seem to be seedier than they need to be.  Grand Central is a beautiful station but it’s confusing.  The shops and kiosks around it are grim.  Penn Station is even worse and is surrounded by dodgy hotels.  Yet here in the thick of it is Madison Square Garden.  Let’s not forget to mention LaGuardia Airport, antiquated and inefficient, with no great transportation link into town.  Welcome to New York.  

So, yeah, I do like New York for two days, grab an overpriced play and go out to a nice dinner, but in the end, no prejudice, London is just a cooler place.


Travel Briefs 1: Airport Technology. Are You Using It?

Now airports are moving into food and drink technology.  Many airports have iPad ordering systems set up around bars and themed food restaurants.  The deal is that you sit down, swipe your credit card, choose items from the iPad menu, and then food or drinks come flying out at you from places that you had no idea.  Meanwhile, there are bartenders that you cannot order from and wait staff that appear randomly with your food in no apparent order.  The basic problem with that system is that it’s not that good.  Somebody has to keep coming in to manually assist and more often than not, the timing is all screwed up.  Sometimes you get wine when you should’ve received coffee, or pizza when you were looking for dessert.  It helps to pass the time and the idea is to simply centralize the operation center, but the problem is that it doesn’t work that well.

Sayulita Market Pietro Place Peter Jones

The Beauty of Sayulita

What a pleasant surprise to discover that just 45 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta is a cool, laidback, surfer’s town called Sayulita.

Famous for its beach break, Sayulita has a guaranteed supply of mixed level waves, perfect for the amateur and pro together.

It feels that Puerto Vallarta has been attacked by the overdevelopment syndrome, but Sayulita, with its year-round population of around 2,000, has remained relatively unscathed.

It was first discovered in the 1960’s and was (and still is) a surfer’s paradise.  The beach is a beautiful, huge crescent shape intersected by a river that seems to emanate from the jungle.  Grazing by the river by an old plank bridge are horses and donkeys.

This is a town where the beach is the magnet.  The beach is stacked in the center with surfboards, surf shops, and surf schools.  You can rent everything from paddle boards to boogie boards.  I sat under a very civilized umbrella easily rentable from Don Pedro – a restaurant come beach set-up where you can get fantastic grilled octopus and seared tuna.

Frankly, my idea of fun on a beach is to find a place like Don Pedro that sells umbrellas and lounge chairs and where I can get incredibly fresh and delicious seafood with a drink while watching other people do what I cannot do, namely surf and paddle board!  So I watched expert surfers, beginner surfers (who wore beginner’s t-shirts), paddle boarders, body surfers, and just regular splashed types like me.  At the far ends of the beach the fishermen and the pelicans went looking for their dinner.  I’ve never seen so many pelicans diving in between surfboards in my life.

There are numerous tiny seaside accommodation places and at the end of the beach is a very nice, but not glitzy, hotel called Villa Amor which is where I stayed.  Rooms range between $175-$300 per night for a one bedroom in high season.  Sayulita is loaded with fantastic restaurants, taquerias, and a whole slew of funky bars that stayed open way after midnight.  The crowd was mixed, cool, and very fit looking.  Surfers usually are.

I love this place.  The tiny shopping streets that stray off of the beach, the groovy restaurants, the mix of locals, old hippies, and newcomers.  The beach had a freer feel to it.

If the beach was a spectacular white coral sand beach like the one in Cancun, it would have been ruined years ago with high-rises and packaged tours.  This place never got there.  A fiercely strong local citizenry protected it and the beach was funky enough to not pull the developers in.  One of my favorite shops in Sayulita is Révolucion del Sueño which does an incredible trade with Zapata t-shirts made from beautiful soft cotton.  My only tip to travelers who discover this place, don’t tell too many people.

Sayulita flowers Pietro Place Peter Jones Sayulita Market Pietro Place Peter Jones Sayulita sunset Peter Jones Pietro Place Sayulita water Pietro Place Peter Jones

A morning to remember in Barcelona

A Morning to Remember in Barcelona

We got into Barcelona on the Friday along with the commuter traffic but it really was a pretty smooth journey in.  There is only one thing to look for when you come in from the airport and that is the Sagrada Familia – now in its 134th year of restoration and due to finish in 2026.  On a side note, I have to say, and I am surprised, that they have not put up a Sagrada Familia in Las Vegas.  Let’s face it, if they were to do that it would be done in three months!

But seriously I love Barcelona.  I think what I love most about it is that there are no real iconic sites.  No major distractions to clog up your day.  Yes, there is Gaudi, Parc Güell, the Olympic Village, the Frank Gehry fish in Barceloneta, and Las Ramblas, but it is a city that is just so relaxing because you kind of wander through the neighborhoods without the need to see the Eiffel Tower, Roman Forum, St. Peter’s, the Tower of London, etc.  I grabbed a couple of hours sleep, took a bike tour of the city which was an absolute joy (Un Cotxe Menys Bicicletes), hung out a little bit at the beach area (the cleanest city beach in Europe), and walked back through the El Born district and Gothic Quarter.  In between, I got lunch at the La Boqueria market and had razor clams and more razor clams (navajas).  03

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Next day was a free day; a Sunday.  We got a limo and a guide and a bunch of us headed to Jerusalem.  That morning there were several news stories about some problems in the Old City and so we had some trepidation.  Yet in the interest of massive curiosity and fear of the CNN factor getting the better of us, we pushed ahead. We are in the travel business after all.  This is what we do.  It made the day even more exciting than it already promised to be!

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a short journey of about 70 km or about 43 miles.  En route, we stopped to look at the settlements and take in the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian territories.  A fascinating, albeit slightly strange, experience.  We drove up to Mount Olive for a view across the city.  The Dome of the Rock, the ancient Al-Aqsa Mosque, all sitting there in the distance.

Eventually we headed towards the inner city, lost the car, and walked the old town, the Souk (old market), and the Arab quarter.  We followed the Stations of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was allegedly crucified and where his body was laid to rest before wrapped in a shroud.  That shroud can now be found in Turin.

We stopped at the western wall and I touched it.  It was quite a magical feeling.  The guide, who actually was very good, managed to cover about 5,000 years in an hour and gave us the essential lowdown. There was just this sense that we were at this ancient vortex of civilization.  Arabs, Christians and Jews all played out in this incredible holy city.  It was sort of like Sunday school coming back to me as a field trip.  This holy place was loaded with stories and relics from the very beginning of civilization to the torturous modern history that still plays out in the streets every day.

Actually as a city, Jerusalem was lovely.  There were picturesque narrow winding streets, reminding me of a Turkish bazaar, nice people, and an intermingling of the old and the trendy.  Great food if you can adjust to hummus served all day long and pomegranate vendors squeezing fresh juice on every street corner.  Jerusalem was dramatic and iconic and left me with so many questions. I wondered how I had ever survived my religion class. Not to mention the politics in all of this which we started to touch on. But that would be another day and a walk through the modern twentieth century Israel.  Complicated doesn’t even get close.

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Pietro Place

The Feast of the Jamon

The Feast of the Jamón

My daughter recently got married and among the many things that we had to eat, we elected to have a serrano ham on the bone as part of the entertainment. Why the Feast of the Jamón? Jamón serrano is a true cornerstone of Spanish gastronomy. It is a type of cured ham that is generally cut into very thin slices and can be seen at any good tapas bar in Spain.

So the wedding was fabulous and the food was delectable. As I had predicted, the jamón was getting a lot of activity. I have two dear Spanish friends who live in Madrid and were at the wedding. At one point, one of my friends noted that the catering assistant, which the caterer had respectfully provided, was not properly cutting the jamón. He stated, “I cannot take it anymore. I have to give this guy a red card and get him off the job. He’s killing the ham!” (Which was already dead of course). Within 5 minutes, he came back with a bright red t-shirt, and his brother sharpened up the knife but remained in his suit, sending the assistant on his way. The cutting of the ham began in earnest. In quite an extraordinary display of expertise, no matter how many times people came to the ham, because of the thinness of the cut and the way that he moved around the bone, we had ham all night long.

There was only one glitch, someone came up to him and said, “I love prosciutto.” He looked at them appalled and said, quite defiantly, “This is the feast of the jamón and prosciutto is for sandwiches. Jamón is to be consumed with the finest red wine. Prosciutto can be complimented with Coca-Cola!”

I got my ham from LaTienda.com. It was fabulous. If you really want to splash out and pay serious money you can get the jamón iberico but for me, the serrano was fine. Best of all, we all got to see an artist perform for the best part of 3 to 4 hours. Thank god the party went on until the early morning!

The Feast of the Jamon

The Feast of the Jamon The Feast of the Jamon

Roman Ways

Roman Ways

I confess – I love Rome.  Not so much the Colosseum and St. Peter’s (and I ADORE those places) but rather just walking around through the piazzas and the tiny streets that connect them all together like an ancient necklace. This is my take on the many ways to enjoy Roman Ways.

There is that famous adage: “Roma non basta una vita” which means “A lifetime is not enough,” but I will assume that most people have about three hours for a brief walk through time. Usually I and my companions start my walk in the piazza in Santa Maria in Trastevere and end up at the Piazza del Popolo. It is a walk that spans every conceivable period of Roman history with stops on the way for shopping, cappuccino, and gelato. It is a walk crammed with fountains, a Roman arena here and there, and ancient pillars. It is the story of Rome – it is the story of a city we have come to adore.

The main piazza in Trastevere is where we find one of the oldest churches in Rome, Santa Maria, which has walls dating back to around 300 A.D. It is not a bad place to start. Across the Ponte Sisto bridge, which connects Trastevere with the beautiful Via Giulia, we see Michelangelo’s dome of St. Peter’s in the nearby distance. We are heading to the Piazza Farnese to see the Farnese Palace, designed by Michelangelo, and now home to the French Embassy.  On an evening stroll you can often see the magnificent frescos inside, designed by the famous painters, Annibale and Agostino Carracci.

This square is dripping with history. The two bathtubs in the fountains were pulled from the baths of Caracalla. Caravaggio, the painter who had a terrible temper, had a bad argument there with somebody after a tennis game, and argument that resulted in a death. As a result, he fled Rome. I guess you would!

Right next door is the Campo de Fiori. The best slab pizza in town is at the Forno. The fountain–one of many we will see today–is stuck at the end of the square, because what looks like Darth Vader is taking up the center space. His name is Giordano Bruno and he was unceremoniously burned alive here in 1600 for outrageously suggesting that the Earth was not the center of the universe.  Shame on you Giordi!

Campo de Fiori is abuzz with a local market most days and cafés and restaurants surround the outside of the square. It is a real hangout at night. At the bottom of the square is where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. Yeah, it is a wild square the Campo de Fiori.

Across the busy street, passing the biggest mortadella (real healthy) in the world, we pass a Renaissance palace, the Cancelleria, and we wind ourselves into the fabulous Piazza Navona.  Here we have a formal introduction to Bernini, the cool and iconic Baroque master of the Pope, and Borromini, the brilliant and very depressed foil to the master himself. This place is loaded.  Inside of this square, there is: a medieval church, a beautiful Renaissance church, a Roman statue (the Pasquino – the original Talking Head), the ancient Domitian stadium 20 feet below ground (and still visible in some places), an Egyptian obelisk, a Baroque fountain (The Fountain of the Four Rivers), and the beautiful St. Agnes in Agone by Borromini. In between all of these landmarks, it is not a bad idea to grab a gelato at Tre Scalini. The tartufo is crazy good!

Gelato done, there is no time to lose. Out of the square and passing the senate building we wander into the spectacular Piazza della Rotunda. It is a breathtaking moment. The Pantheon is staring us down. This is the most perfectly preserved Roman building in the world. It is an extraordinary site as you spill out from the narrow street. There is a steady flow of tourists and Romans walking back and forth and around this magical building with a hole in the top. It is the basis for the great Brunelleschi dome in Florence and Michelangelo’s dome at St. Peter’s. The building, now a church, is also home to Rafael and the kings of Italy…and it is free to get in.

It is a short walk from here through the back streets of Rome, past the Palazzo Chigi, before you spill out onto the craziness of the Via del Corso and up to the Spanish Steps along the Via dei Condotti. There are more designer shops on this tiny street than there are in all of Manhattan, it seems! Here I enjoy heading to the Café Greco to grab an espresso and a tiny sandwich. At the base of the Spanish Steps, there is another fountain, this time by Bernini’s father.

We are getting close to the end of the walk. What better way than a stroll down the very chic Via Babuino to the Piazza del Popolo. To the right are the Villa Borghese gardens, and at the Piazza del Popolo, you can see clearly down the Via del Corso to the Piazza Venezia and the slightly awkward looking “wedding cake building”, Altare della Patria, designed to symbolize the unification of Italy in the 19th century. Beyond the wedding cake is the Forum, Michelangelo’s Capitoline Hill, the Jewish ghetto, and in the distance, the Palatine and the Colosseum.But that is another day.


Roman Ways ≈ Rome_Peter_Spanish_Steps 100815 Roman Ways Peter Jones Pietro Place

I’ve followed up my insiders’ guide to Ashland, Massachusetts, with a tour of my second adopted home-town: Boston!

A lot has changed in Boston over the past few years, (hello, artisan coffee and cheese) but one thing remains the same: this city dominates in athletics. Whether your an superjock or a sensualist, Boston is ready for you!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for Pietro Place in Boston, Massachusetts and dozens of other video blogs!

Visiting Reykjavik

2015-07-18 18.04.23 Visiting Reykjavik

Arrival in Reykjavik is a bit of an eye-opener. A major international airport hub, the airport facility is in a constant state of expansion. The old days of a shed, a passport control, and a place for weary travelers to rest their legs before continuing on is long gone. You could practically live in this airport. It’s a short distance to the center of town and if you rent a car, which is recommendable but ridiculously expensive, you’ll find driving around safe and easy. Let’s face it, once you’ve gotten past the per day price tag, anything is going to seem within reach.

There is of course the very touristy but essential Blue Lagoon – it’s 15 minutes from the airport and it seems like half the traffic going there is simply on an airport stopover en route to somewhere else. It wasn’t as tacky as I imagined. It’s highly organized and I slightly hate to say it…but I sort of liked it. Not to mention an inside visit to a dormant volcano – essential that the volcano is dormant! Erupting ones can be problematic (pro-tip). With a geyser (that’s where we get the name from), the most powerful waterfall in all the world, and throw in the only visible above-sea meeting of the tectonic plates between the continents of North America and Europe and you have a fairly spectacular sightseeing tour.  All of this while peering out into the distance at ice-capped volcanoes situated in fields of volcanic black rock. And that’s the day trip from Reyjkavik!

Reykjavik is a fun town, a party town: lots of hub and spoke activities, lots of colorful houses all encased in corrugated iron to withstand potential fallout from erupting volcanos – seriously. The great thing about the sun never setting is that you can start your day at 9am and never have to worry about getting back before dark. It never gets dark here in the summer! If winter is your thing it barely gets light, but there’s always the Aurora Borealis to keep you occupied in between visits to the bars.  I stayed at the Hotel Borg http://en.hotelborg.is/ – the room was basic and the hotel looked pretty run down. The breakfasts were average and I got the feeling this hotel was resting on a once glorious past that had sadly expired. Location is just about the best you can find, but beyond that it was a highly forgettable experience. If I return to Iceland I would certainly experiment with another hotel – perhaps venturing out to the Ice hotel (http://www.icehotel.com/) to take a look. Though I personally wouldn’t stay there – igloos are not my thing!

IcelandFreshEating Icelandwhalesteak

Rooftop Dining – New Soho House


Rooftop Dining – New Soho House

London’s Soho House recently opened its new house on Dean Street and, even though it has an early closing limitation because of the neighbors – yes people actually do live in Soho – it’s a little bit of a jewel in the ever-so-crowded craziness of a Soho evening.  It has a small rooftop bar, along with its Greek Street counterpart and the notoriously fun Shoreditch house. It seems like Soho House is heading for rooftop views all over London. Despite the weather it’s kind of cool to look above the chimney tops of London and get a Mary Poppins view of both Old London and the scintillating New London popping up towards the East. Soho House is a private members’ only club and a genuine respite from the madding crowds in post-theater West End. If you happen to know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who can take you in there, it’s a great place to hang out. If you don’t know anyone, oh well…

Looking for a special roof outside of London? Other memorable rooftop bars I’ve visited:

  1. Plaza Santa Ana Melia Hotel Rooftop Bar in Madrid (http://www.melia.com/en/hotels/spain/madrid/me-madrid-reina-victoria/the-roof.html),
  2. Berlin Soho House (https://www.sohohouseberlin.com/en/house)
  3. Shoreditch House London (https://www.shoreditchhouse.com/house/rooftop-restaurant)
  4. NuTeras in Istanbul  http://www.nuteras.com.tr/,
  5. Les Deli – Cieux in Paris http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d3346801-Reviews-Deli_Cieux-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

Ski Diet Recipes

Why do people ski in Switzerland?  Because if they didn’t, they’d weigh 400 pounds.  I’ve taken the liberty of finding some links to my favorite Swiss recipes.
1.       Rosti potatoes with fried eggs and ham Eating Well Recipe.
2.       Fondue (melted cheese ) with bread and potatoes (photos)
4. I’m surprised there aren’t cheese doughnuts. Oh wait, upon further research, there are.
Thank goodness I only head to Switzerland on an annual basis – cheese in these quantities is not sustainable for any heart.

Fish and Chips

When I was a kid, I used to walk home from my swimming club and stop every Friday night at the fish and chips shop. I would buy myself six pennyworth of chips with crackling. The crackling referred to the batter that had separated from the fried fish. With lots of salt and vinegar the crackling was as delicious as the fish and chips themselves. It was not a healthy walk home but one of the more delightful culinary events in my childhood. It was always wrapped in newspaper. Think of it this way – deep fried food covered in traces of lead with some salt and vinegar. That is what “Britishness” is all about.

This dish was spared wartime rationing (rationing actually was introduced in 1940 and did not end until 1954) to boost the fishing industry and it helped to keep the British population fed well during the difficult wartime years. The dish of fish and chips owes its roots to the great expanding rail network in the 19th century, which was able to efficiently transport fish to the inland cities of England. From the north seaports to the fish and chips shops on the corners of smoky industrial towns, the British diet was transformed. Even though it is tough to see imagine the benefit of pairing fried potatoes with deep fried fish it sure beat the alternatives. Remember these were the grim days of early British cuisine when garlic was simply something that French people chewed on their way to work. How could they??

Of course, nowadays things have changed. My fish and chips shop has long since gone, and most fish and chips shops have evolved into samosa, kebab, gyro, and fish and chip houses. The quality of the fish is not great, the chips are mainly from frozen bags, precut and tasteless, and the batter is grim.

But don’t despair, there definitely are places where you can still find fabulous fish and chips. I would strongly recommend any traveler to try one of these places. Geales Fish and Chips shop on Farmer Street in Notting Hill, The North Sea Fish Restaurant on Leigh Street in Bloomsbury, and The Fish and Chip Shop on Upper Street in Islington.

Three trendy areas of London with superb fish and chips cooked perfectly in healthy batter with chips that are cut on the premises. The most English popular fish is still cod followed by haddock, although I still have a deep fondness for dogfish, aka rock salmon. It’s the cheapest of cheap fish with a center bone like an eel. It is what I grew up on. And, let nobody ever tell you that you can eat fish and chips without healthy amounts of salt and malt vinegar. Ketchup and mayonnaise, while not forbidden, should be!

There are tons of great restaurants in London – probably the dining in and around London is the best in the world. But at least for one day, one lunch, it is worthwhile to grab some fish and chips and remember how it all started as a nutritional diet for the working classes during the industrial revolution. British at its best.

Photo of Fish and Chips courtesy of the best Fish and Chip place in Boston, Island Creek Oyster Bar.

Thanks to the kitchen for snapping this one, as it were!

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Italian Food and Wine

So, what do you do when you need a break from Turin? The good news is that Piedmont is Italy’s new culinary region for cutting edge restaurants, Slow Food, and new age and old age vineyards. None of these hotspots are too far away. It can all be accomplished in a day and you can intersperse your day with stops in the small towns that make up this fabulous foodie region.

We took off on a wintry day, when the countryside looks a lot less glamorous than the posters convey on the outsides of the brochures, with a promise of good food, fabulous wine, and a shopping bag full of culinary souvenirs to take back home. We would dive into truffles, do a wine tasting in Barolo, and visit an organic flour mill that produced some of the finest pasta in Italy.

Flour Mill 031414

We also popped by the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo to have a walk around the capital of the Slow Food movement. Here in the underground vaults is stored a bottle of every wine produced in Italy every year. It is my kind of underground movement in more ways than one. The movement started in 1986 next to the Spanish Steps in Rome as a protest against McDonald’s. Good for them. Slow Food is based around preserving local food traditions, staying in tune with seasonal offerings, and keeping chemicals at bay.

slow food Collage 031414

My Italian friend who loves driving like a maniac, especially through winding roads that make me want to throw up, took us first to Fossano to visit a fabulous hotel called Palazzo Righini. Fossano is a tiny town but it is dotted with cafes, restaurants, and a rather magnificent grand piazza. A great cup of cappuccino began our day.

Palazzo Righini Collage 031414

From there we drove into the vineyards and although it was the deep of winter, the landscape of vines that crisscross the hills was pretty impressive. We drove to a large vineyard called Marchesi di Barolo and sampled a few glasses; not easy in the morning. We then moved on to some smaller vineyards down the road. This area is all about Barolo (Italy’s most famous wine), Barbaresco, Roero, and Langhe wines. Familiar names pop out like Nobilo, Dolcetto, and Barbera. In the neighboring vineyards to the east, Asti provides us with the sparkling Spumanti wine and the sweet Moscato wine. In other words, this is an absolute must for anybody who loves and adores fine wines.

We ate in a restaurant in Bra and I had an insanely delicious papardelle with ragu sauce and my friend had a veal tartar. Vegetarians beware! I also could not resist the bread sticks (grissini) because they had been sourced from the local mill that we had just visited. We drank Gaja Barolo and I wondered how I was going to go out for dinner later this evening. One bird at a time.

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Turin: City of the Month – April

Why Turin?  It is interesting, often overlooked, and is probably one of the more dramatic cities in the world because of its proximity to the Alps.  It is literally enveloped by mountains.  Located in Piedmont, it is close to the towns of Barolo (famous for wine), Alba (famous for truffles), and Bra (the center and university for the Slow Food Movement).  This beautiful city is famous for the Shroud, baroque architecture, French-style piazzas, arcaded promenades, and Fiat (the Lingotto).

Turin City Collage 031014
The Roman gate and a quaint Turin chocolate shop

Cafés are chic in Turin – it actually was one of the first cities in Italy to embrace a café society.  Turin’s cafes are meeting-places for all types of citizens from the aristocracy, to artists, to students, and chocolate connoisseurs alike.  Some of the oldest and most well-known cafés include Caffè Florio, Al Bicerin, and Caffè Mulassano.
It is also a great place to buy a Fiat because the employees turn them over every two years!

The city also has some of the best chocolate in the world.  Chocolatiers were first licensed to sell chocolate in 1678 and continue to make high-quality chocolate that easily rivals those of any other European capital.   One of the oldest chocolate shops is Caffarel which first introduced the world to the gianduiotto bar in 1852.  Turin’s fascination with chocolate is so big that an annual chocolate festival occurs every March.

Markets.  The city has numerous street markets and festivals throughout the year including a two-week street market during the Christmas season and the largest year-round market in all of Europe which is open daily except for Sundays.

The cuisine (Piedmontese) is some of the best in all of Italy.  It’s heavy on the meat but there are plenty of new emerging chefs and exciting restaurants that are shaking up the old establishment.  Some of these chefs include Enrico Crippa, Davide Palluda, Davide Scabin, and Piercarlo Bussetti. Great restaurants that are cool include Agrifoglio and Solferino.

The Piazza San Carlo is a beautiful baroque square with the twin churches of San Carlo and Santa Christina as well as the Galeria Sabauda with its large collection of paintings.  The Egyptian Museum, housed in the same building, is one of the most important Egyptian collections in the world.

There is also a gem of an art gallery inside the old Fiat building called the Lingotto.  The gallery hold works of art collected by the owner of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli.  It is a tiny place with Matisse, Picasso, and Canaletto paintings to name but a few.  It is well worth the visit, plus you can gaze across the city on to the nearby mountains from the open air practice track that Fiat used when the factory was still in operation.  The factory has since moved and the building, built in 1928, is now a historic landmark.  There is also the National Automobile Museum in the city which makes sense because everything about this city has to do with cars.  Every other car on the street seems to be a Fiat or a Fiat derivative.

Turin is easy to get to.  It is a short drive from Nice, France and it is not far from Milan or Venice.  It has its own airport but I found that the flights between other cities and Milan were an easier way to get into the city.  As a jumping-off point, it is a great place to explore the mountains or get down to the coast.  It is a short drive to quaint coastal towns like Bordighera and it is not too far from Genoa.  Good times to travel to Turin are in the spring and early summer months, but even in the height of the summer the cool sea air helps to keep the temperatures down.  I would highly recommend staying at Hotel Principi di Piemonte, the only 5-star hotel in Turin, with a great pool incidentally.


Turin Peter Fiat View 031014
Overlooking the city of Turin


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