Why a vacation in Turin, or as it’s known in Italian, Torino? Well, you could say Torino and I go way back. Ever since I can remember I’ve heard stories about this northern Italian city sometimes known as the “Detroit of Italy” because FIAT is based there. It wasn’t until I started traveling as an adult and stoking a love for Italy that I came to know Torino was “Fiat country”. I always knew Torino for its university. You see, my uncle studied there in the 1950’s, so by the time I arrived on the scene, there was always some kind of story or reference at family gatherings about Italy and Torino in particular. I guess you could say, that’s how this granddaughter of an Irish immigrant came to love the country of Italy.
Although I was very aware of the city of Torino, other places kept getting “top bill” on my “I want to go there” list, until last January. That’s when mom (my perfectly matched travel partner) and I decided a visit to the Piemonte wine country was next on our Italy “radar” and if we were going to spend time in the Piemonte region, we didn’t want to ignore Torino. We signed up for a small group tour of the Piemonte wine country with Bluone Tours ( website here: http://www.bluone.com/ ) and planned to spend a week in Torino before the tour started. Our trip would begin at the very end of August and would stretch over the first two weeks of September. This worked out to be the perfect plan for us.
Since the second part of this trip was with a small group tour the logistics were stress-free, pay the cost of the tour and show up, that simple. What helped make it even easier is that we had done a market tour/cooking lesson several years ago in Bologna with the family who owns/runs Bluone tours. We kept in touch with them via social media and knew and trusted them to provide a top-notch experience, which they did, but more on that later.
With the tour booked, we needed flights and a hotel in Torino for the week prior to the tour. I studied a variety of hotel websites and kept circling back to the TownHouse 70 Hotel ( website here: http://www.townhouse.it/th70/ ). I really liked what I saw and read about this property. The other hotel we considered was the Grand Sitea Hotel, which we were going to be staying at for one night at the start of the group tour. So we decided to give the TownHouse 70 a try.
We were extremely pleased with the TownHouse 70 Hotel. For us, the location was perfect, literally around the corner for the Piazza Castello, which is a major piazza in Torino with not only 2 royal palaces but also many transportation options. Many of the restaurants we went to were either an easy walk or quick bus or tram ride from the hotel’s location. The staff at the hotel was just terrific, attentive to our needs or questions and very efficient. All in all, I would happily stay at this hotel again.
The Grand Hotel Sitea where we stayed on the first night of the group tour ( website here: http://grandhotelsitea.it/ ) was a lovely hotel, I’d call it in the “Grande Dame” style. The guest room was extremely spacious, and the staff just as helpful as at the TownHouse 70 Hotel. The aperitivo in the bar at the Grand Hotel Sitea was the best we have ever experienced anywhere in Italy, and it was “molto elegante”! My only criticism is, for us, it was slightly out of the center of “things”. Not terribly far, places were still walkable from there, but it was just a bit longer walk.
When it came to flights, we knew we wanted our final destination to be as close to Torino as possible. Could we have flown into Milano and then taken a bus or train to Torino? Sure we could have, but Torino has a nice little airport that is a 20 minute drive from the center of the city. We chose to book on AirFrance which services Torino airport. We were fortunate to book premier voyager seats (the AirFrance version of premium economy) but as so often with flights, what you purchase may not always be what you ultimately get. And so the trip report will continue….
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