Time Out of Time in Turin's Historic Cafes
Be who you want. Have a bicerin.

We live in dangerous times. The weight of society’s concept of “reality” bends our overburdened spines toward the sidewalk. The monotonous replays of our lives we see on reality television loop endlessly. There is no escape.

In a 2010 interview, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that “the days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” declaring further that “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

One can hardly keep one’s hackles from rising. It is now a “lack of integrity” to step out of the prison you’ve made for yourself. It is a “lack of integrity” to weld pipes for a living and when the whistle blows run home and clean up for dinner date in which you will wow your lover with a delightful pseudo-knowledge of fine wine and minimalist brain surgery. The light and the shadow has become a single, gray smear, a fog. It’s one or the other, Bunky. The narrative stops here. You can no longer make yourself into who you want to be at a particular moment.

Turin is known for a few things. Heavy industry is one. Fiats don’t build themselves. Elegant cafes are another. Light and dark. You can have them both.

Imagine turning a corner and entering the Galleria Subalpina after a day filled with thudding machinery and bad news.

galleria subalpina
Galleria Subalpina, Torino

The light has been calmed for you, distributed softly around you. Perhaps a drink? Il Caffè Baratti & Milano awaits you, whoever you’ve decided to be that moment.

baratti & milano turin
The Bar at Baratti & Milano, Turin

The barmen will scurry for you the pipe-welder, for you the writer of stories, for you the crazed philosopher. You can belly up to the bar and plot the end of the Republic with an inexpensive coffee if you wish. (When he wanted to know what was happening politically, King Vittorio Emanuele II would ask his subordinates something like, “What news comes from the Cafes today?”)

Nietzsche whiled away many hours at the Barati & Milano. He finished writing three books in its opulent Baroqueness.

Order Torino’s famous bicerin, layering fine espresso, melted chocolate and rich steamed milk.

Enjoy the perfectly arranged flowers in the light. Enjoy the businessmen and their lovers and their Champagne in the shadows.

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Flower Arrangement, Baratti & Milano

Or, have lunch.

baratti & milano turin
The Discrete Window: Baratti & Milano

Contrast. It is the spigot from which life flows.


The Galleria Subalpina was built in 1873. The architect was Pietro Carrera. And here we end with the final twist: The sensual galleria was named after the bank that funded its construction, Banca dell’Industria Subalpina.

Location: Piazza Castello – via Cesare Battisti


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Time Out of Time in Turin's Historic Cafes originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , © .

Categories Italy Travel Tips, Piemonte

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