Local traditions and culture in Torino

  • Piazza Castello, circa 1850
    Piazza Castello, circa 1850
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  • Superga, circa 1850
    Superga, circa 1850
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  • Historical Trams
    Historical Trams
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Most Viewed Local Customs in Torino

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    Drinking water

    by ant1606 Updated Mar 17, 2014

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    Abundance of water from the Alps is a blessing and a public resource in town. The typical drinking water outlet is named "Toret" (pronounced "tuh-ret" in Piedmontese language) or Italianized as "Toretto" which means "small bull". Torino has about 700 of such fountains scattered all over the city territory and most of these are well over a century old. These are about 1.2 m (4 ft) tall cast-iron, green painted units, where untapped water spouts from the mouth of a bull's shaped head down into a grill to the ground level. Same water being distributed to every home in town, it is absolutely safe to drink and generally of good taste. If you don't have a glass or a bottle to fill, try to do as locals do by standing on the side and leaning for a direct drink from the stream. Standing on the side will most likely keep your feet dry. Caution with nearby icy patches in winter due to spatter.
    One thing that puzzles me is the cumulative amount of free-flowing liquid at all time when a "save water" conservation concept is generally advised. Torino is evidently rich with this precious asset and can afford to waste it. A pilot project is in progress and foresees the gradual removal of these convenient outlets which should be replaced - not all though - with modern dispensers of refrigerated plain and carbonated water, the latter for a small price. Some of these units are already installed in adjacent towns as a test and drag the attention of bypassers who can quench their thirst by pushing a button.

    Although it looks incomplete, here's a
    map of "Toret" in town

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    "Tramway" aka Tram

    by ant1606 Updated Jan 10, 2013

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    Public transportation service in town was introduced in 1845. Since 1871, Torino was the first Italian city to implement horse-drawn trolleys circulating on steel tracks and still today has the most extensive network of such an urban system in the country. Subway and bus lines are a natural complement but many still refer to using public transportation, whatever the type, as to "go by tram" which tells about the local urban cultural staple. Previous generations, mostly speaking the Piedmontese language, used to call it "Tranvai" (pronounced: Trahn-vah-ee) where the N replaced the M letter for phonetic purposes. I can imagine the sound of hoofs on the cobblestones throughout the city's quietness. Pulling horses disappeared in 1893 with the electrification of the nine existing lines of that time, consisting in an elevated cable carrying low-voltage electricity. Such system is still used today and vehicles are connected to it through a flexible bar mounted on top of the tram.
    In 1901 the stops were introduced. Before that, vehicles would stop upon request and/or passengers would hop on or off on the fly. Modern fast trams circulate today, but historical restored vehicles can be spotted on special occasions. The system reached its peak in 1949 with a total of 23 urban lines. Of these, only 10 still exist today in addition to an urban/suburban rail system serving a wider range.
    A special tram line, still in use today, is the Sassi-Superga. These vehicles move through a rack-and-pinion device which also provides safety as the vehicles climb the steep Torinese hill.
    Map of present surface tracks in town

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    Aperitivo

    by ant1606 Updated Jan 30, 2012

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    NOTE: This tip is written as a test, made into a tip from a forum reply.

    For us Turinese, the concept of aperitivo is associated with food rather than being just a pre-meal drink. A long tradition dating back over 200 years.
    Plenty of choice and different styles - vintage, classic, modern, w/ music or not, indoors or alfresco. Peek inside venues starting around 7 PM to evaluate the type of environment and, if unfamiliar, to understand whether it's a sit-and-be-served mode or rather a buffet-style place where you first buy a drink at the bar then choose a place to sit before heading to the all-you-can-eat buffet. In this case, make sure to avoid leaving unattended valuables at the table. Theft is rare but wisdom is always advisable.
    Clusters of aperitivo bars are easily found in the Quadrilatero area (look in Piazza Emanuele Filiberto and Via Sant'Agostino) and Piazza Vittorio Veneto, which are the main nightlife areas in town and burst with life until morning hours.
    One of my favorites is Lobelix located in Piazza Savoia 4.

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    Toret

    by elpariente Written Oct 30, 2011

    Torino =Small Bull= Toret
    Toret in Piedmont is a fountain with a bull and they are always green
    Sources with a figure of a bull, the symbol of Torino are in the streets and squares where you can drink fresh water (more than 700) and if you put aside you can drink water without getting wet feet

    Torino = Toro pequeño = Toret
    Toret en piamontés es una fuente con forma de toro y que siempre son verdes
    Fuentes con una figura de toro , el símbolo de Torino se encuentran en sus calles y plazas donde se puede beber agua fresca ( hay más de 700) y si te pones de lado puedes beber sin mojarte los pies.

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    Torino's football teams

    by Mikebond Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Torino is the home of two great football teams: Juventus and Torino.
    Juventus (the Latin name means "youth") is one of the oldest Italian football teams and the one that has won the most of cups and championships. It has been champion of Italia 29 times so far. My parents and I support Juventus and here you see my mum in front of the Juventus shop (she loves Alessandro Del Piero, one of the best Italian and European football players).
    If you want to buy Juventus products, you don't need to travel to Torino, you can visit the official site.
    After a major scandal, on 14th July 2006 the Football Court condemned Juventus to the withdraw of the 2004/05 and the non-assignation of the 2005/06 scudetti ("small shields"), as well as to the relegation to serie B with 30 points of penalization. The Federal Appeal Court reduced the penalization to 17 points, but Juventus is the only of the four condemned teams that will play in serie B in 2006/07.
    Torino was a great team once. It won seven Italian championships and it was referred to as il Grande Torino. Sadly, the airplane that was taking the team home from Lisboa on 14th May 1949 crashed at Superga (a hill just outside the city) and all players died. That's why Superga is so famous. You can see and read more about that fabulous team here (only in Italian). Today, Torino plays in the serie B, but it will likely be promoted to serie A due to the relegation of Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio.

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    Piedmontese Language

    by ant1606 Written May 17, 2008

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    Although Italian is the official language, Italy is a relatively young country (unified in 1861) and the various regions within have their own tongue. Some of these are considered dialects while others are languages.
    Piedmontese is a written Western Neo-latin language listed on UNESCO's "Red Book of Endangered Languages". My grandparents took Italian at school as a second language, and I still grew up with Piedmontese as the normal conversation tongue of my parents.
    Due to the "Italianization" of the country, it is declining although still widely spoken in a variety of forms. Even Piedmontese had to be "unified" into a koine' common exchange language understood by people throughout the region. "Occitano" and "Franco-Provenzale" dialect families are in fact quite different to each other.
    Known to derive from the early languages spoken by Ligurian tribes (from the Iberic Peninsula), it was later integrated with Celtic, Latin and some Arabic words. It has today some similarities with Catalan and Gaelic. I was surprised to find out with Irish friends about words in common, such as:
    Conij (rabbit), "Conhin" (not sure about spelling) in Gaelic
    Drugia (manure) from Celtic "Dru" (fertile)
    Balma (cave) from "Balmein" (high stone)
    Bealera (water stream) from "Beal" (water stream)
    Brich (peak or high ground) from "Beal" (hill)
    Bisa (cold wind) from Bis (pungent)

    Some words from Arabic with identical meaning:
    Taola (table) same as "Taula" in Arabic
    Portogal (orange) same as "Burtuqal"
    Carador (aisle or hallway) same as "Karadur"

    If you visit Piedmont and speak Italian, don't be surprised if you hear something that sounds similar to French. You're listening to Piedmontese. And, don't be surprised if towns 20 km apart from each other have a different tongue!
    I'm fluent with the both the Turinese form and the version spoken in the Canavese region.

    Other resources:
    http://www.biellaclub.it/_cultura/piemontese/index.htm
    http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingua_piemontese

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    Torino's free Wi Fi Hot Spot

    by marco2005 Updated Apr 22, 2008

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    Torino is one the Italian city most hi-tech. Indeed we have few hot spot!! And very few are free :-(
    So this is the list of these few free hot spot

    Several Torino's hotels offer wi fi connection (paying a fee); these ones advertise having it:

    Hotel Express by Holiday Inn
    Hotel Italia
    Grand Hotel Sitea
    Hotel President
    Hotel Urbani
    Starhotel Majestic
    Hotel Lo Scudiero
    Hotel Le Meridien
    Hotel Art & Tech
    Hotel Royal Torino
    Atahotel Concord
    Hotel Continental

    A complete (?) list of Torino's hot spot on www.jiwire.com

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    Museo della Marionetta

    by Klod5 Written Apr 12, 2007

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    Un monde de curiosités en miniature, entre le jeu et la magie du théâtre : c'est le règne de la marionnette qui a son royaume dans le Teatro-Museo Gianduja. La précieuse collection de la famille Lupi, accumulée pendant plus de 200 ans, compte plus de 500 pièces dont une centaine de marionnettes, de décors et de costumes du XIXème siècle.

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    Moscato Wine Festival

    by Jetgirly Written Feb 10, 2007

    Each spring, Torino hosts an adorable Moscato Festival. Celebrating my favorite sweet, slightly-bubbly wine, this festival takes place in May. The festival is held outdoors in Piazza Carignano and Piazza Carlo Alberto. For eight euros you get a glass that allows you to sample a wide array of Moscato from all around the country. Once you've got the glass, you're welcome to return each of the three nights the festival is open to sample more. Nothing beats sitting in a beautiful old piazza, sipping super-cheap wine samples and chatting with your friends.

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    Vermouth

    by ant1606 Written Jul 25, 2006

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    One of the typical products of Torino exported all over the world is Vermouth, probably best known through a few major brand names such as Martini, Cinzano and Carpano, which are the historical and original companies that first developed the drink in late 1700.
    The base of Vermouth is wine added and fortified with flavoring herbs and, some say, absinthe.
    First born Vermouth was the "red" variety followed by the "white" one. Today, market demands have dictated the addition of "dry", "blush" and a few other hues and flavors.

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    Chocolate

    by ant1606 Written Jul 25, 2006

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    Cocoa was first brought to Torino in late 16th century but it took a couple of centuries before it became available as an ingredient. Torino is credited to be the official worldwide birthplace of chocolate in the form we all know, which soon developed in the typical "Gianduiotto" where powdered locally grown hazelnut is part of the mix. This delicacy is presented as the unmistakable golden wrap in its triangular shape. Beware of the addiction it generates!

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    San Giovanni - Saint John festival on June 24th

    by ant1606 Updated Jun 24, 2006

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    Every year on June 24 Torino celebrates St. John's day as the patron saint of the city.
    In addition to other cultural happenings, the event includes a parade where some 2,000+ people wear historical costumes from the middle age to 19th century.
    A bonfire is started on June 23 night to reenact the burning of clothes and other goods to purge the plague spread occurred in early 1600. A legend also has it that the bonfire is linked to the earliest public burning of witches in 11th century.
    Fireworks usually conclude the festival on June 24.

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    Getting on with the locals

    by vichatherly Written Jun 15, 2006

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    Turin can be a bit of a cold, industrial city where there seems to be not much fun going on. But if you look carefully and engage with the locals it can be great. especially if you buy them a drink or two.

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    Torino - The Italian Motortown

    by ant1606 Written Feb 2, 2006

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    To many people Turin is, if ever, known as the Italian Motortown for it's the car design and manufacturing capital.
    This city is in most cases not even on the list of visitors to Italy but more visitors can be expected after the XX Winter Olympic Games, which can launch Turin into the tourism big game.
    FIAT operations date back to 1899, for the acronym meaning "Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino". The history of this company can be sampled through a visit to the Automobile Museum. FIAT brands include Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and Ferrari.

    If before WW II Italy was a slow-growing economy, post-war years boosted the "Italian miracle" through rapid industrialization that brought the country to a world-class consistency. Those days saw a spread of wealth that put Italians on the move. First was the charming Vespa, then a 4-wheeler was launched at accessible price for many. It was the FIAT "500", a 4-seater, two-cylinder stramlined cage produced in about 3.6 million units from 1957 to 1975. For today's standards it's hardly believable it actually crammed together the early generation of families of four.
    By the 70s this vehicle was mostly considered as a toy, for it was cheap to buy and for the ease of city parking due to small dimensions.
    A reduced number still survives today and these cars are considered fashionable to some yuppies and freaks. In many cases the original disgraced canvas sunroof is replaced by a solid steel or plastic piece.
    True, today there other very expensive, longer, flat, roaring and fast "red" cars on the streets, but the ridiculous and cute mumble of the 497 cc engine of the "500" provides visibility with style to a few lucky owners throughout the world.

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    chocolate

    by ZORBA_01 Written Jan 11, 2006

    Arount the end of 18th century the formula of the chocolate - a mixture of cocoa powder and milk - was invented in Turin.
    Later the Swiss copied the formula.
    Today you can taste the best chocolade in every way you like: hot chocolate cup (which I strongly suggest to fight the low temperature), tablets etc.

    I suggest you try:
    1 hot chocolate with wipped cream (cioccolata calda con panna) at the "Cremeria Cavour" (my favorite)
    2 gianduiotti (they look like litte golden lingots)
    3 any chocolate tablets from "Peyrano"
    4 and of course NUTELLA (chocolate cream mixed with nuts)

    Another tip: if you like coffee and chocolate try the "marocchino" (read marokkino) or mokaccino

    Have a sweet olympic vacation.

    Zorba_01

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