Shopping Like every respectable city, Turin has its places where "economy flourishes". Here are those which are a "must" either for shopping addicted or for more reserved buyers.
1 - Porticos: along via Roma, piazza San Carlo, piazza San Carlo, piazza Castello, via Po and piazza Vittorio; 14 kms of shops and stands for all types and pockets: handicraft shops, boutiques and international designer labels, historic cafés and department stores. Via Roma, via Lagrange and piazza San Carlo are dedicated to chic buying, in via Po, piazza Vittorio, via Garibaldi (the longest shopping precinct in Europe) and in piazza Castello bookstores, perfumeries, teenage fashion boutiques and stalls of crafts and costume jewellery offer slightly cheaper choices.
2 - Via Barbaroux, via San Tommaso and via dei Mercanti: a tangle of roads with artisan shops and workshops, haberdasheries, delicatessens and wine bars.
3 - Piazza della Repubblica: the site of the largest open-air market in Europe. Porta Palazzo is one of the centres for Turin's commerce: one can find anything here, from clothes to furnishings and all at very reasonable prices. Remember the covered markets are also here selling fish, groceries and local farmers produce.
4 - Borgo Dora: here one can find junk dealers with all kinds of articles on display, sometimes including valuable antiques. Don't miss the "Balôn" which is held here every Saturday and is a secondhand and antique market. The "Gran Balôn" is held on the second Sunday of every month and is one of the most famous "flea markets" in Italy.
Days and opening times: Most shops in Turin are closed on Monday morning and at lunchtime: they are open on Sundays only at certain times of the year, during the sales and around Christmas.
Nicole, Serena and Laura: three girls living together, each with different tastes in shopping. How can they agree to going shopping together? Here you are, an itinerary to satisfy all their needs: "tamarre", freak and sporty together.
They depart from Via Po. "Torino bene" - well-to-do part of the city - is seated in the "traditional cafès" such as Fiorio, Roberto and the Caffè degli Stemmi, while students look for used books, the "zarrette" enter Calzedonia and Piux and the anti-conformists stop at the ethnic stalls... Serena, Nicole and Laura visit Prezzi Pazzi, ok quality at very low prices.
Obstructed by a pack of kids on mission to get new promotional cards for books and CDs; diddled by peddlers selling prints or fake D&G belts (obviously Nicole has a look), our guides head for the low prices in Jennyfer, Pimkie and Tally weijl maybe Laura and Serena opt for the serious stuff in Camaieu. Rapalino's icecreams are a great temptation... but why not try a piece of "focaccia" from Recco in the Focacceria Ligure? Nicole opts for Mc- Donald's and Laura for a snack at home, a healthier idea.
Our three "guinea-pigs", pushed by Serena and her intellectual aspirations, stop at Fnac, a meeting place for personalities and cultural events. For lack of vile cash they walk straight past the designer label shops and meet at Footlocker, where Laura and Serena will go back for the sales. Then on to H&M with its 3 floor of clothing Zara, or "Zarra" as Nicole says, with a twinge of envy for those sitting in Caffè San Carlo.
As they are in the neighbourhood, why not go around via Lagrange made recently into a pedestrian precinct? By the way here is the Rinascente where a stop for make up- accessories and generally-odds and ends is a must.
There's yet another meeting with the Euroclub hunters, who would sell their grandmothers for clients. Here starts the tour for accessory shops, then an icecream at Grom that they all agree on, and Angel, which attracts the "tarra" side of Laura; yes, the Laura who would live in sports shops like Nike and Fila if she could. Then on to Contigo and Bata for shoes and the Body Shop which makes Nicole meditate on the possibility of having plastic surgery. They snub the Juventus Store, where male fans go to dream of being as cool as the players and the female fans hope for a miracle from Del Piero. The more serious Serena stops to look in the ethnic shops scattered about almost everywhere...
And now for some of the most colourful places in the city: the markets. Our guides go to Crocetta and piazza Benefica for clothes, but confess to being habituées of the market in corso Palestro: competitive prices and orderly stalls, even if the choice is not comparable to Porta Palazzo. Many Turinese will not set foot in the latter, due to various urban legends about the area: threatening locals and danger round every corner... Laura laughs at all this and carries on going there, the only one to do so in the house. Here she even buys clothes: second hand dresses and ethnic accessories which are in vogue.
This time our guide is Nicole, while the others follow her to Le Gru in Grugliasco, a shopping centre where thousands of people meet to take their afternoon stroll together. Most don't go there to buy, but to window shop, gossip, meet someone, whose mobile number they get and perhaps even exchange the first text message... however - nobody knows how butbefore leaving everyone buys something. The view is varied: groups of boys that leer after a passing mini-skirt and hip hop boys playing yoyo, shopaholic couples, worried about their wallets or the destiny of their afternoon, and stuck-up girls trying on low-necked pink t-shirts, grimacing at themselves in front of the mirror. Other centres are the Fornaci in Beinasco, with its multi-screen Warner Village and the inevitable Mc Donald's, and the 8 Gallery at Lingotto. This also has the Pathè cinema, a large amusement arcade and reasonably priced restaurants.
Any weekl day from Monday to Saturday,
don't miss the opportunity to
have a walk in the local markets of the
A part from the fresh and convenient products you can find a good portion of the most authentic and colourful Turin. Have a look around, especially in Porta Palazzo, with its unbeatable prices and its explosion of colours, in corso Palestro for its wide and original choice, in La Crocetta for a good balance between cheap and chic, in piazza Crispi because it's open even on Thursday and Friday afternoons, in piazza Benefica because it's unbeatable for clothing, in Santa Rita because it's huge and in piazza Santa Giulia because an unusual country atmosphere will welcome you. During the week-end don't miss one of the several little open markets that give life to the city. From the Typical product Oasis in piazza Palazzo di Città to the Gran Balôn which brings antiques to Borgo Dora or to the Vintage Market respectively on the first, second and third Sunday of each month.
All in all, between a "tapinambur" and a woollen bag any morning at the market is really well spent...