Grand Hotel Sitea: Tourin’ Turin
One of Italy’s most charming big cities, Turin’s occasional step into the spotlight belies its permanent appeal. Known to most only as the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics, Turin is in reality a delightful city with everything a traveller would hope for when in Europe. Royal palaces, outstanding museums, excellent restaurants, opportunities for shopping, and pleasant locals―all found in a scenic location―make Turin a smart choice to enjoy the best of Italy without the crowds. Italy without crowds? Yes, in Turin it is possible. Despite its wealth, history, and chocolate industry, this economic powerhouse of Italy remains an afterthought for many of the country’s millions of visitors. So much the better for those who do come here to enjoy refined hospitality in a place where good manners are the rule.
Perfectly encapsulating all of these aspects of Turin is Grand Hotel Sitea, the city’s friendliest five-star hotel. Situated within walking distance of Porta Nuova train station, Grand Hotel Sitea‘s location in the Centro Historico makes it an extremely convenient base to explore the city centre on foot. In a refreshing change from the heavy decor found in most of Italy’s five-star city hotels, the 120 rooms and suites at Grand Hotel Sitea are appointed in a contemporary design that conveys both style and comfort without ostentation. The public rooms reflect the same motif; the spacious lobby feels like the very large living room of a friend with good taste.
This being Italy, dining experiences at Grand Hotel Sitea are, of course, excellent. The very exclusive Carignano has seating for only 12 patrons, making the hotel’s award-winning restaurant one of the most highly coveted reservations in the city. Less formal but no less satisfying is Bistro Carlo e Camilo, where a casual atmosphere and innovative menu can be enjoyed indoors or outside to watch the passing parade in summer. Mornings at Grand Hotel Sitea begin with a buffet breakfast that includes a variety of international dishes as well as several items typically eaten by Italians to start the day, including fresh ricotta cheese and the multilayered sfogliatelle rum cream pastries. Myriad cafés and restaurants are located in the immediate vicinity of Grand Hotel Sitea, as are some of Turin’s best gelato shops. The city is well known as Italy’s praline capital, meaning there is an abundance of chocolate shops selling the famous gianduiotti blend of hazelnut cream and chocolate cream into heavenly treats that melt in your mouth. A hot chocolate at Café Pfatisch is an absolute must.
For those unfamiliar with Turin’s attractions, the city’s Egyptian Museum is one of the most important and comprehensive in the world but it is only one of many sights to be seen. The National Cinema Museum, housed in the city’s landmark Mole Antonelliana tower, is a reminder of Italy’s history as a major producer of films. The Royal Palace and Madama Palace are both located to the north of the city centre on Piazza Castello; the elegant buildings and extensive grounds of the splendid Palace of Venaria, restored to its former grandeur after years in disrepair, are located on the northern outskirts of the city. As in the rest of Italy, outdoor life is highly appreciated in Turin. Open-air cafés abound; the regal Piazza San Carlo is colloquially known as the city’s living room, such is the social buzz under the arcades around its perimeter.