28 October 2015

2015 ITALY Torino 8 - The Foodie Part

The culinary part of our tour included stops at four distinguished and historic caffès (or coffee houses). We went into Caffè Confetteria al Bicerin (established 1763), Caffè Torino (1903), Caffè San Carlo (1842), and Baratti & Milano (1858). Each had a variety of caffès, their own unique and fantastic pastries and chocolates, and spirits served later in the day. We peered into the windows of others as well.

They were all elegant and highly decorated with chandeliers, gold leaf, fancy staircases, mirrors, and painted motifs. Here we are in one of the caffès.

These caffès played an important role in Italian history. They were the gathering spots of politicos, artists, writers, composers, aristocracy, and intellectuals. Plots were discussed here to end struggles with Austria and Germany. Refugee politicos from other Italian States found safe haven here.

Baretti & Milano was our last stop and we treated ourselves and Arturo to caffès and macchiatos (coffee with chocolate). We learned that this shop so impressed the royal Savoy family that is was honored with the House of Savoy Coat of Arms. Our tour ended on this high note.

The others went back to the hotel, but I had a chore. I had ordered tickets for later in our trip from Eurail, but for some reason could not print them at home. I was going to the Torino train station to get them here to have in hand. When I got there the queue was on number 53. I was number 87. Luckily the line went fairly fast, and the people and dog watching was good. Not as many dogs on leash here as in France, but still entertaining.

When I got to the front of the line, the agent did not speak English and did not understand that I was not leaving from Torino on a train today. What was more confusing was that we had changed our destination city from Como to Varenna. 

Luckily I had printed lots of paperwork, confo numbers, etc. No one there spoke more than a few words of English, but I finally got my intentions through to the fourth person helping me. He worked a long time, but made me a happy person when our tickets popped out of the printer.

It was a nice walk from and to the hotel in the rain. I took two routes and saw some everyday shopping areas, kids returning from school, high end shops, gardens, book stores, young lovers and older couples holding hands. It was fun window shopping alone and at my own pace.

The other three were hitting the comp mini-bar when I returned. They discovered a new (for us) Italian liquor called Amaro, an herbal drink often used as a digestif. Personally, I didn't care for it that much.

So ... after a quick nap, off to dinner. L&S had scouted out a place called the Huntsman. I wasn't too keen on it to start with, an English pub in Italy?! Shouldn't we be eating somewhere Italian-y? But it was a good choice after all.

We had the best Margarita pizza we would have in all of our trip. We hung around for a few Heinekens (Mike says they taste MUCH better in Europe than the U.S.) and red wines. For a while we were entertained by an Italian rugby team after their meet. Those curly haired, dark eyed guys were just too cute.

After that a few more hits from the mini-bar, I began studying up on our next few days of travel in Alba.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.