Turin natives will tell you that their city has two sides: one speaks to the heritage of the Savoy Court and Art Nouveau, tradition, elegance and history; and the other side is young, cool and innovative (rumour has it that Turin has the most innovative electronic music scene in Italy). You will see this dual personality in the city’s shops, from luxury specialist ateliers to contemporary concept stores.
Discover the chocolate
In 1585, the Turin-based Duke of Savoy, Charles Emmanuel I, married the daughter of Philip II of Spain and through the Spanish colonies, raw cacao arrived in Italy. Turin’s expertise for chocolate burgeoned in the hands of innovative chocolatiers, which turned the city into the chocolate centre of Europe. Today, the city is still synonymous with the sweet treat and its residents remain just as passionate.
Confetteria Stratta opened in 1836 and remains one of Turin’s legendary confectioners. Stop by and select a range of artisanal gianduiotto, the most symbolic chocolate of Piedmont – the boat-shaped, bite-size hazelnut chocolates were invented in Turin during Napoleon’s regency in Italy (1796-1814). Guido Gobino, which opened in the 1960s, is another confectionary stalwart and now has two locations. As is Peyrano, its specialities include ‘alpine’ – little cups of gianduja filled with a secret recipe liqueur. Selecting beautifully wrapped chocolate from the counter feels every bit as decadent as it is – not to be missed!
Confetteria Stratta, Piazza San Carlo 191, Turin, Italy, +39 011 547920
Peyrano, Corso Moncalieri 47, Turin, Italy, +39 011 538 765
Browse in Eataly supermarket
The now globally renowned Eataly supermarket originated in Turin in 2007 with the aim of distributing sustainably and responsibly sourced Italian produce at affordable prices. It brings together artisanal-quality food from throughout Italy into a convenient superstore set-up so you can return home with a delicious hamper full of regional specialities. For example, Piedmont’s famous red wines from Langhe and Asti vineyards, organic cold-pressed Ponente Riviera Ligure oil, Fassone cured meats, and cheese from the Aosta Valley. Eataly is located in the peripheral Lingotto neighbourhood within Turin’s former Fiat factory, but it’s worth the journey. The roof (once the factory’s test track) is now home to the Agnelli Pinacoteca, a unique gallery space designed by Renzo Piano.
Eataly, Via Nizza, 230/14, Turin, Italy, +39 011 1950 6801
Explore Via Roma
The wide boulevard Via Roma in the historic centre of Turin underwent major renovation between 1931 and 1937 at the height of Italy’s Fascist period. The design, by Marcello Piacentini, is typical of rationalist architecture at the time, combining the neoclassicism of Novecento Italiano and Futurist-inspired modernism. The first six blocks remained in the 18th-century style reminiscent of nearby Piazza San Carlo. Sadly, the shops here are not as remarkable as the architecture. Located beneath its elegant arcades and porticos are major high-street brands, such as Apple, Zara and Timberland, as well as the usual luxury labels such as Max Mara, Salvatore Ferragamo and Hermès.
Find it all in the department stores
San Carlo dal 1973 and Top Ten are the two major designer department stores in Turin. San Carlo is both traditional and modern; here, you can find classic and new labels in clothing, accessories and perfume. Top Ten is very contemporary, both architecturally and in terms of labels. It combines the likes of Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Cabanne de Zucca alongside emerging talent. Both stock for men and women.
Top Ten, Via Marcello Soleri, Turin, Italy, +39 011 535360
San Carlo dal 1973, Piazza S. Carlo 201, Turin, Italy, +30 011 511 4111
Shop for unique items
If you prefer a more intimate shopping experience, Turin has many independent boutiques, mostly catering for women (sorry gents). Verdellilla is Turin’s answer to Anthropologie: it is hidden in an inner courtyard behind a stained-glass gate and feels quite princessy, in a good way. The rustic boudoir-like space houses hundreds of international labels united by a slightly bohemian aesthetic, as opposed to sculptural or urban.
There is also the flagship store of Vogue favourite Kristina Ti, the brand of Turin native Cristina Tardito who is known for using delicate feminine fabrics. Concept store Bagni Paloma occupies a pleasingly sparse converted garage and literally everything on view, from a retro bike to the light fittings is for sale. The covetable stock epitomises hipster style – Dankso clogs, perfume by Miller et Bertaux, Khadi & Co homeware.
Verdelilla, Corso Re Umberto 17, Turin, Italy, +39 011 517 2701
Kristina Ti, Via Maria Vittoria, 18, Turin, Italy, +39 011 837170
Bagni Paloma, Via dei Mille, 30, Turin, Italy, +39 011 888 569
Indulge in a sensory experience
Olfattorio Bar à Parfum is a luxurious perfume store stocking 300 scents from the most prestigious artistic perfumeries from around the world. Rather than sniffing you way through cheap celebrity-endorsed eau de toilette, you can sample evocative concoctions of essential oils and find something rare and special. Olfattorio founders Renata De Rossi and Giovanni Gaidano have borrowed the format of wine tastings (hence the name ‘Bar à Parfum’) for their sample sessions. Instead of spraying the perfume, guests take in the scent from a Champagne flute-like container.
For a trip back in time, visit Antica Erborista – an enchanting traditional herbalist that his been running since 1875 and still operates in much the same way. Medicinal herbs, teas and cosmetics are stacking in glass jars on wooden shelving around the old countertop.
Antica Erborista, Piazza della Consolata 5, Turin, Italy, +39 011 436 8789
Browse in a bookshop
Corraini Editions is a publishing house and art gallery, which has several dedicated books shops in Italy, including inside Camera – Centro Italiano per la Fotografia in Turin. Its publishing branch was established to explore links between art, design, graphic design, publishing and photography, and the results are beautiful – every Corraini Editions publication is specially crafted by artists, illustrators and designers in close collaboration with the authors.
Another great bookseller is Libreria Bodoni Spazio B, which stocks an excellent range of Italian and international titles.
Camera, Via delle Rosine, 18, Turin, Italy, +39 011 088 1150
Libreria Bodoni Spazio B, Via Carlo Alberto 41, Turin, Italy, +39 011 583 4491
Find pottery for your home
Ceramic artist Anna Basile combines traditional oriental practices and aesthetics with contemporary creativity. She specialises in practical tableware, which is earthy and robust, yet refined. Basile deftly crafts organic, elegant forms that celebrate texture and the material. She often uses high-temperature glazes to capture exquisite glossy colours that contrast with the natural hues of the pottery. Her charming studio is open to the public (from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday) so visit and make sure you leave Turin with a unique, handmade memento.
Studio Delta Pottery, Via Rocciamelone 16/a, Turin, Italy, +39 380 476 2034
Explore a flea market
Every Saturday morning and every second Sunday of the month (on Sundays there is more on offer), this famous flea market draws visitors from all over Italy. A maze of over 250 stalls are set out alongside long-standing antique shops and appealing cafés. You can find everything at Balon – antique and retro furniture, collectable toys, local lace, vintage clothing and contemporary crafts. It is located just behind Porta Palazzo in the newly fashionable Aurora neighbourhood. The market opens at 8am, and if you want to beat the crowds it is advisable to arrive early. Via Borga Dora, close to the market, is home to many retro homeware shops and second-hand clothes stores, where you can find affordable clobber and nicknacks.