Blogging in Italy is a very small universe which means it’s easy to meet people from all around the country and make connections thanks to the many overlapping elements of Italian culture which bind together all the regions on the peninsular.
One of the most passionate bloggers and champions of Italian culture, in this niche, has to be Lucia Hannau, who is based in Turin and tirelessly promotes the beauty of her native region Piedmont to the world.
Lucia and I have gradually become friends thanks to our shared obsession with Instagram and all things food and wine. Recently I was happy to do a brief interview with her about her work and the event she organises in June every year which brings together many Italophiles to Turin.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Turin Epicurean.
I was born and raised in Turin and after spending 11 years in the US where I was teaching Italian at college level I came back to my hometown.
Looking at Turin through the eyes of the foreigner I saw (and still see) so much potential and this is what led me to Turin Epicurean Capital.
Moving from the Midwest to Turin I had access to bountiful of foods and flavours, activities and events that I thought: people need to come over and enjoy.
This is how Turin Epicurean Capital was born.
Currently 80% of the tourists in Turin are Italians from other regions and the remaining 20% is mostly made up by French and Germans. Because most non Italian tourists just spend 1.5 day in Turin I thought of giving them an excuse to stay longer and this is why Turin Epicurean Capital lasts 3 days.
It is three days of round tables about food, wine, fashion and life style in the morning and different activities in the afternoon.
The participants are food and travel bloggers, culinary professionals, designers and authors. Just a couple are from Turin and all the others are non Italians.
They come over to enjoy what I like to call our “vida royal” and this year most of them will spend a whole week in Turin!
What’s this years Turin Epicurean shaping up to be, what’s happening and who will be there.
This year we’ll have different round tables, from Turin we’ll have Patrizia Balbo, an astrologer who has just published her book about shoes, “The Bold and The Beautiful” American actor, Daniel McVicar – now a Turinese and Adriana Delfino who will present her creative process and works on June 22 at 4pm.
Guests attending this year include multi award food photographer Ilva Beretta, English jam maker Jennifer Williams of Naked Jams, a wine connoisseur couple – the Sassodoros or Bill and Margaret Goldstein, Slow Food London patron Jan Egan aka The Watchful Cook, Turin expat in the UK Carolina Stupino, My Persian Kitchen author Sanam Lamborn, famous Christina Conte of Christina’s Cucina and wine expert Amanda Courtney.
Each morning at 11am in group of four they will talk about how food and wine has influenced their lives and careers. Those who are currently living in Italy will share their culture shock stories as well as those who live abroad will compare the differences in lifestyles.
Food, pace of life and fashion are what makes our lives special, together with how we can savour life better, is basically the core of Turin Epicurean Capital.
In Turin people complain a lot but we are blessed with such high quality cuisine and art which is just simply take for granted, we are barely aware of it anymore.
On the afternoon of June 21, we’ll have a cooking class with a new chef and a new school, this year it will be Chef Marco Giachello who has worked in many famous restaurants and with the Associazione Qubi’. The Turin Epi cooking class is maybe the most looked forward activity. This year though we’ll also have an aperitif on June 22 after Adriana Delfino’s presentation. Adriana is a neuropsychologist who will explain to us what happens in our brains as we eat different textures and flavours.
Finally, on June 23 we’ll enjoy the first part of the celebrations for St John, Turin’s patron saint.
June 24th in Turin is like our July 4th we have parades in historical costumes and fireworks on the river but for some reason it is hard to find pictures online…
So I thought of inviting everybody over to enjoy the historical costumes and the bonfire on the evening of June 23.
It is really a great time to be in Turin, people can have dinner out and the city literally comes to life!
Tell us what sites we should be seeing on a visit to Turin?
To quote Ishita Sood from the blog Italophilia who recently spent a week in Turin: 7 days aren’t enough.
First of all the city center is built on the grid of an old Roman military camp, so you’ll need 1 day to walk and window shop Via Garibaldi and Via Roma, Piazza Castello, Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Carlo Felice.
This is the real heart of Turin and you can almost physically grasp the royal atmosphere.
Then, we have Mole Antonelliana the tallest building in Europe and also symbol of Turin, it’s our Eiffel Tower and it hosts an amazing national cinema museum, where you can take the elevator up to look at the city from the top. Another must see museum is the Egyptian museum currently the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. Here you can admire the personal objects of one of the pharaoh’s architects and his wife, animal mummies, 3 princesses’ mummies and so many unique and perfectly preserved papyri.
Everybody loves these two museums!
Food wise, one morning should be spent at the Porta Palazzo market the largest open air market in Europe! It is really impressive, there are many sections: produce, fish (no stink!!), deli, meat, farmers’, houseware and clothes.
Harry Potter’s fans should go to the Valentino Park on the river, while coffee lovers should go on a coffee shop tour of the most famous royal coffee shops.
Al Bicerin though, should be the coffee shop you stop at before going to the market.
Finally, one of the royal palaces… we have so many… however, Villa della Regina is a unique place with its urban vineyard!
What’s it like to live in Turin, try describing it to someone who has never been.
It is very hectic, sometimes even more than NYC. Apparently, in Turin we walk a lot more than in Milan but compared to NYC and other Italian cities, Turin is much more manageable in terms of lifestyle: the weekend is quite relaxing and we do enjoy the public piazzas. On the week days we still find the time to sit down for a coffee or a cocktail with friends after work. It is quite common to go to the theatre once a week or to concerts.
I personally love walking and doing window shopping, having a gelato and to munch on a black olives or nut bread on my way home.
It is quite different from anything you might experience and see in Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples and Milan.
Turin has a main square in a very 18th century style, a bit like Philadelphia. Kinda French and yet so very much Italian with an understated flare.
And then of course, the food and wine culture is out of this world: chocolate, wines, vermouth, aperitifs, we do indulge yet always in our regal way 😉
What should we be eating and drinking while in Turin, describe your ultimate Turinese meal.
It really depends on the seasons but generally speaking: vitello tonnato – a cold teenage veal roast thinly sliced and topped with a tuna and capers mayo; a risotto or 40 egg yolk tajarin pasta with shaved white truffles; red wine braised roast; chocolate bunet pudding with a glass of delish Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco.
These are some of our staple foods but you still get an idea.
I’m always encouraging people to visit Sicily at different times of the year, when do you think is the best time to visit, what festivities really reflect the culture and the people the best.
Usually, the international high season in Piedmont is the Fall because of the harvest, the colours that change and the truffles fair while the more Italian high season is the winter because people go skiing on the Alps.
I think all the four seasons are actually amazing here: in February we have a unique Carnival celebration in Ivrea (1h driving from Turin) with an orange battle. Starting in the spring till the Fall every hamlet and small town has a wine or local festival.
Easter is particularly glorious in Turin because of our humongous chocolate eggs. May calls for the international book fair, June is St John’s,
November we have ChocolaTO the chocolate festival and the indie cinema fest in Turin plus the winter lights are turned on and each street has a different pattern.
Anytime of the year Turin is amazing, really!
You are also a passionate Instagramer, who else besides you should we be following to see great images and insights into the city of Turin.
Turin photographer Valerio Minato takes the best pictures of Turin however each resident on instagran portrays a side of the city that is quite representative of who they are.
Any more suggestions for Piedmont in general.
If you love castles, medieval abbeys, art, cheese, chocolate, wine and hazelnuts, Piedmont is your place. Up in the Alps, on the lakes, in our hamlets on the hills, anywhere you go, you’ll be living in a fairy tale.
What souvenirs should we be bringing home from Turin?
Wine bottles, artisan chocolates (a mix of gianduiotti and cremini), a tin of Pastiglie Leone, clothes and accessories by our local very talented designers, a t shirt saying espresso or vermouth was born in Turin, a fridge magnet with the green bull fountain and a chocolate liquor bottle shaped like Mole Antonelliana.
Come to Turin and Piedmont and enjoy our vida royal, you’ll love it!
Thanks ever so much to Lucia for finding the time to talk to me. I’d like to compliment her for her dedication to promoting her piece of Italy.
Turin Epicurean is a wonderful event for visitors to have an authentic and valuable Italian experience. Many thanks also for the wonderful images Lucia provided for this post.
I’d like to dedicate this article to the beautiful city of Turin, who this week inadvertently became a victim of terrorism, there was no direct attack but the people watching the soccer match in their beloved Piazza San Carlo were gripped by panic after the sound of an explosion, which turned out to be nothing more than a banal joke. Nonetheless the people gathered to watch the game between the local team Juventus and Real Madrid were caught up in a tidal wave of fear which resulted in many injuries and chaos. Turin will pick itself up and recover but I’d like to take a moment to send my prayers to all victims of all forms of terrorism.
A native of Turin, Lucia Hannau has organised Turin Epicurean Capital since 2014 to share her city with the rest of the world. A picky eater, chocoholic and yoga practitioner, Lucia bakes focaccia, loves going to the movies and eats gelato all year long. When she is not teaching ESL or ITA L2, she is THE Turin person to refer to.