I was invited to take part in a business convention in October, in no other than Turin — the land of Nutella. No, really, Turin is the most important business and cultural city in Piemonte. The event, of course, was right up my alley; it was called “Experience Piemonte: Luxury, Design, Wellness, Taste.”
Here’s how things went down in Turin, a list of the most luxurious and authentic experiences you can have in the city. Spoiler alert: You’ll want to book a flight to Italy today.
Our adventure starts in the lovely Victoria Hotel, an authentic palace on a quiet street in downtown Turin. Even with 106 rooms, Hotel Victoria still feels small and comfortable. The diligent decor is lavish, to say the least. Expect a classic European feel with hints of Middle Eastern and Asian influence.
Spend the day in the verdant garden, relax in the pool and spa (or go straight to the sauna.) The food at Hotel Victoria is reason to consider it on its own — a local artisan baker makes the bread, and the coffee is unlike anything you’ll find outside Italy. With four types of cheese and seven of honey at the breakfast table and plenty of gluten-free and vegan alternatives, the Hotel Victoria is a wonderful way to start the day.
On the first night, we had a networking dinner at a famous Arcadia restaurant across the street from the larger-than-life Palazzo Madama, with a four-course menu inspired by Piemonte’s cuisine. The Italian restaurant and sushi bar is of the highest level, and the food is presented beautifully, all under high ceilings, surrounded by classic decor. There’s a patio area as well, but it is only open during the warm season.
The Piemonte Agency has invited four journalists including myself and 60 buyers from all corners of the world to work for top companies in the design, wellness and food industries. With so many diverse and creative people, we all had amusing conversations over three-hour long dinner paired with Barbera wine.
The next day, we visited La Reggia di Venaria, a historical complex that was once the royal house of the Savoy but is now a museum and a restaurant. The palace was built in 1675 and is one of the most awe-inspiring in Italy. The baroque masterpiece has diligent decor, offering plenty of picture-perfect settings in every corner. The gardens are as impressive as the buildings themselves, and the complex has its own church, worth a visit in its own right. No visit to Turin is complete without touring La Reggia di Venaria.
The first day of the convention started in La Reggia with a three-hour presentation from CEO and founders of Piemonte Agency, discussing the values, culture and views on innovation and sustainability of the region. After a buffet lunch break in lavish interiors, our group of journalists headed to the exhibition hall in order to interview local companies. And that is where the most exciting part starts when you get to interact with the soul of Piemonte, to understand what 'made in Italy' really means.
A highlight of my trip to Turin was the people I met and their passion projects. I was lucky enough to listen to Lia Pascaniuc, a well-established photographer and fellow artist that blurs the line between art and fashion. Inspired by nature, Lia, a Romanian-born but Piedmontese by choice, is a bright star in Torino’s artistic skies.
I also met the people behind Cappellificio Biellese, a hat-making company founded in 1935 that brings hats back as part of modern Italian fashion. To say CB is all about Italian artisanship would be an understatement. The company goes to great lengths to design and make the most fashionable hats — yes, hats are back!
Luca Murta, Vice president of the company.
Finally, we visited the Aurora Pen headquarters. Pens here are works of art. The company has taken fountain pens, leather goods and watches with an authentic Italian style to the world, and they’re uncontested in the category. We also toured Oscalito, handmade Italian wear for men and women, crafted with the finest silks and cotton by real people, not factories.
Cesare Verona, president and CEO of Aurora Pen with his wife Edolinda Di Fonzo, International Sales Director.
Cotton production at Oscalito headquarters.
Born in Turin 30 years ago Vanni eyewear has established itself in the world of creative eyewear design. The brand was named after the artist Giovanni Vitaloni, known as Vanni to his family and `friends, whose imagination and entrepreneurship inspired the brand. It was a pleasure to visit their stylish showroom located in grand Carlo Emanuele II square. In particular, I loved the fact that they use leftovers from eyewear production to create unique statement pieces like pendants and earrings.
As an artist myself, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the brand supports upcoming talents. In the showroom, we enjoyed the corner exhibiting the artwork of an Italian photographer Giovanna Petrocchi who works a lot with museum archives.
I was lucky to find an exclusive designer eyewear for myself, a special souvenir from Piemonte to bring back home to Paris.
Lunch at Da Pepino Restaurant was also life-changing. Opened in 1960, Da Peppino is a picturesque ristorante and pizzeria specializing in Mediterranean food. Trying fresh pasta is a must, and although I didn't try the pizza, I saw it and craved it, too. The octopus was perfectly tender. Everything is hand-made here, even the rich desserts. It's a must to finish your meal with Pepino ice cream. The recipe for the eskimo (or pinguino, as it is called here) was invented in this famous house in 1937. You'll find the family-owned restaurant in downtown Torino.
Of course, our visit to Turin ended on a sweet note by visiting Galup, a 1922 bakery, where we got some fantastic panettone and Italian sweets to bring back home for Christmas. Bread and Italy are one and the same.
Visiting Turin was a life-changing experience. Not only because the city is beautiful but also because everything here has a hard-to-describe Italianity. The Hotel Victoria, the bakeries, the artisan workshops and even the big companies — all have an unmistakable Italian DNA. I traveled to Turin to learn more about luxury, design, wellness and taste; in the process, I discovered they’re all the same thing in Italy, and that’s the type of experience I wish for you.