As many of you may know, this April marked my 24th birthday and I was lucky to spend my third birthday in a row in Italy!
I knew that, after last years amazing trip to Rome, I wanted to go back for my birthday simply because I love Italy, and I had a look at various destinations that would fit within my budget, and I stumbled across Turin. I don’t judge a place based on its “tourist” attractions etc, but I did have a nosy at what Turin could offer me and I found enough to at least right my own short Turin city guide.
They have a world renowned Egyptian museum as Italy invested lots of money in collecting Egyptian pieces so they now house some fantastic items. This excited me, being a bit of an Egyptian fanatic.
After that, I saw it was surrounded by the Swiss Alps (North Italy), had some beautiful viewing points, beautiful architecture, beautiful parks and it’s the chocolate capital of Italy…..what more could I want? I had made my decision, Torino was for me!
Since we have a sign-up deal that gets you £30 off with Airbnb, we decided to take advantage of our own offer and find an apartment in the centre of Turin. I like being close to as much as possible, as public transport is a hassle. We found a gem of an apartment in the centre of Torino, literally walking distance to absolutely everything. It was a one bedroom cosy apartment, equipped with food, coffee machine, and a balcony where I could enjoy an Italian coffee in the morning…bliss. Price? £101 with £30 discount for three nights.
We arrived in Turin at around 8.30pm, so too late for sightseeing, but still time for dinner and drinks. Our Airbnb hosts gave us some great recommendations for the trip, and one of them was a pizza place that was cheap but supposedly delicious. We decided to venture here since it was just around the corner. The pizza…oh my god. They stuff the crust with ricotta cheese and it was amazing. Brad and I shared a pizza as we can never seem to manage one on our own!
We washed the pizza down with 2 litres of sparkling wine…yes you read that correctly…two litres. It was so good, Brad was finishing one glass at a time! We became boozy as the night evolved and we had lots of fun, and ended the evening in the restaurant with Limoncello shots. I don’t shot it though, I sip like a liqueur since it’s so delicious.
On our return to our apartment, Brad had previously mentioned we were right next to an Irish bar….and since I was a little tipsy, I offered to buy us a cocktail each! We entered the Irish bar, and as far as Irish bars go, this one was good- great atmosphere, and they rang a bell when they found out I was Irish! We had two cocktails for 6 euro each, and they were so strong they tipped my drunk level over the edge. The remainder of the night was a blur, but I had fun, and the best part? Everything cost us 20 euro each…including 4 euro tip.
We started the day with a hangover. I forced Bradley to go to the shops to buy milk and juice so I could make some coffee. We had a bite to eat and got ready to sightsee! We decided we would follow the main “tourist” routes to explore a little first. I picked up my own Italian coffee maker and then as we were strolling down the road, low and behold, what was in front of us…an Amsterdam Chips!
Now if you are reading this blog for the first time, you won’t know how awesome they were in Rome, but they were amazing, so we got a little over excited and ordered a “family” size, and as you can see, they are massive, so we didn’t finish them. Eyes bigger than our belly syndrome, but at 4 euros each, you can’t really complain too much.
We strolled along the streets and came to a lovely bridge that had some fantastic views along the River Po, it was a beautiful sight, and then I decided I would like to go up the glass elevator in the Museum of Cinema as it boasts stunning views of all of Turin. We queued for around 1 hour, and Bradley felt a little ill on the ride up the elevator, (it is quite sketchy), but we were then greeted with a stunning panoramic view of Turin. Snow settled on the tops of the alps and surrounded this beautiful city.
It was a wonderful moment, and I do appreciate a wonderful view. The cost was 8 euro for an adult, and 6 euro for a student (I have an international student card). You could opt to go into the actual cinema museum too, which I have to admit did look fantastic (you go through it in the elevator), but I was happy to save my money for the Egyptian museum.
That evening we had our first experience of Aperitivo. This is where you pay a set fee of around 7-11 euro (don’t go higher than this or you are getting scammed), for a drink, whether it’s a cocktail, wine, beer or soft drink (all the same price), and you get access to unlimited buffet food! Different restaurants will offer different food, but the one we choose had pasta, pizzas, tapas, salad, the works! They usually run from 6 pm to 9 pm, but ours ran until 10 pm.
Day three was my birthday! I woke up to the apartment decorated with balloons and birthday decorations, and importantly…presents! I had decided that for my birthday I would like to go to the Egyptian Museum and have a picnic in the beautiful Valentino Park.
The entrance is 15 euro for an adult, and it's open from 9 am to 6 pm. The peak is probably from lunch time onwards. This place is amazing- you can opt for a short 60-minute tour or a full 120-minute tour, I went for the latter as I love history! The museum was filled with antique items, rich history and interesting mummies. It was super fascinating, and I highly recommend it.
Half way through the tour there is a coffee shop which does cheap (obviously since it’s Italy) but yummy coffee to help give you a burst of energy! The tour is done on individual handsets which you can set to the language you desire - bring headphones if you don’t want to hold the handset like a phone!
Filled with water fountains, green fields, lakes and pretty surroundings, I thought Valentino park would be the perfect setting for me to have a birthday picnic. It was a warm day as well, so I imagined it would be busy- which it was! We packed sandwiches filled with mozzarella, salami and tomatoes, made little mozzarella and parma ham tapas, hand cut crisps, and a 375ml bottle of good Italian prosecco!
I packed a towel as a blanket and a packet of cards to play, and we hit the road. It took approximately 30 minutes to walk there, but there's lots of atmosphere, and you can choose to take the “shopping” route, which we did this on the way back, or the “scenic” route. We found a spot under a tree and enjoyed our picnic…it was the perfect birthday setting.
It was around 8 pm and I was checking Bradley and me into our flights online, and I suddenly realised I hadn’t seen my passport. I searched in the apartment, I got Bradley to search, but after an hour, there was no passport. Yes, the worst had happened, I lost my passport in Italy.
4 months in South America…not a problem…three days in Italy..a problem. I had to go to the police station to file a missing passport report which took around two hours, and then needed to contact the relevant embassies to try and get me out of the country. To say it was stressful was an understatement, but once we had finished at the police station at around 11 pm, we went in search for a restaurant to try and salvage what was left of my birthday! One lasagna, bottle of wine, and large Limoncello later, I felt calmer.
I did get home in the end….but as a tip, just make sure you file a police report straight away, and always carry a backup copy of your passport (a photocopy), or your driving licence as another form of identification.
We were meant to spend the day exploring Milan before our evening flight, but because of what happened, I had to spend the day trying to get out of the country, so there was no time for sightseeing- I did get to spend 8 hours in the airport though….
So there you have it; Turin was a wonderful place in Italy, and I highly recommend it if you want authentic Italy, without the tourist price tag. No one was trying to rip you off, and that was nice just being able to choose places based on what they looked like, rather than what their menu prices were (we are budget backpackers after all).
Hopefully you may find some inspiration from my short Turin city guide, just don't lose your passport like I did! If you have been to Torino before let me know what you thought!