Author Tom Mueller Photography Andrea Pistolesi
DAY TWO / Your second day dawns in Caffè Baratti & Milano, another storied coffeehouse, where well-heeled torinesi gather throughout the day to talk politics and the Olympics and stock up on sweets. Afterward, tour the nearby Galleria Sabauda, a fine collection of Italian and Flemish old masters featuring the likes of Mantegna, Fra Angelico, Rembrandt, and Van Eyck.
Next enjoy a rather less platonic experience on the Via Maria Vittoria, the center of the local antiques trade. Stop at the shop of Tina Biazzi, where the expert, opinionated Tina gives lucky patrons a short course in art nouveau, describing the antiques in her gorgeous collection and speaking of their prominent fin-de-siècle artists—Gallé, Daume, Majorelle—like old friends. You’ll come away with an appreciation of how art nouveau artists avoided straight lines, celebrated the curve and floral patterns, and united décor with architectonic form in a seamless whole. Then visit Libreria Antiquaria Pregliasco, which has one of Italy’s richest selections of antique books and prints, the fruit of patient research and canny bidding by soft-spoken proprietor Arturo Pregliasco.
Three blocks north on Via Montebello is the Mole Antonelliana, Turin’s icon and one of Italy’s most delightful white elephants. After long periods of abandonment, the Mole now houses a cluttered but extensive cinema museum, a neon and Plexiglas bar as atmospheric as a film set, and an observation deck with superb views of the city and the nearby Alps.
Wander among the modern art galleries of Via della Rocca, lingering in two beautiful squares along the way: tiny, tree-lined, Londonesque Piazza Maria Teresa and the pleasingly Parisian Piazza Cavour. Then walk east two blocks to the River Po, and follow it to the Parco del Valentino, where the locals play soccer, row on the river, and lounge on the broad lawns in fine weather.
Back in town, it’s again the aperitivo hour and high time for a glass of Barbaresco or a flute of superb Sicilian spumante at Le Vitel Etonné, a wine bar and restaurant that has become one of Turin’s favorite watering holes. The enticing hors d’oeuvres table is a mere foretaste of the piemontese specialities to come at dinner. Afterward, round out this full-bodied evening with a concert of classical or contemporary music by the RAI Symphony Orchestra in the impressive, just-remodeled Auditorium RAI.
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