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Female_TEXT_Vegan Delights in Turin: Tips for a Plant-Powered Vacation from a Turin Vegan Local | Monica Simoni | Ep143

Tips from a Turin Vegan Local

Introducing Monica

Joining me today is our special guest, Monica Simoni, a passionate local resident of Turin and the owner of a delightful vegan bed and breakfast in Turin Italy.

Together, Monica and I are diving deep into what makes Turin such a fantastic destination for vegan travelers. Monica shares her personal story of transitioning to veganism and her mission to create inclusive spaces for fellow vegans during their travels. From her cozy B&B, offering stunning views of the mountains and the city, to her mouthwatering 100% vegan breakfast options, Monica’s dedication to sustainable and compassionate travel shines through.

We’ll explore Turin’s rich history as Italy’s first capital and its fascinating ties to the automotive industry, all while savoring the city’s culinary delights, including its famous hazelnuts, wine, and chocolate. Monica will also unveil some of Turin’s architectural wonders, from its historic arcades to ornate signage, adding to the city’s unique charm.

We discuss the best times to visit Turin and Monica’s insider tips for experiencing the city’s vibrant food scene and renowned aperitivo culture. Plus, don’t miss Monica’s carefully crafted two-day itinerary, filled with must-see landmarks and delicious vegan dining spots.

Whether you’re a seasoned vegan traveler or simply curious about exploring Turin’s vegan-friendly offerings, this episode is your ultimate guide to experiencing the city’s cultural heritage and culinary delights in a sustainable and delicious way. So sit back, relax, and let’s embark on an unforgettable vegan adventure to Turin together!

In this episode we discuss:

  • Introduction to Turin, Italy, as a vegan-friendly destination
  • Monica, owner of a vegan B&B, shares her insights
  • Monica’s journey to veganism and B&B ownership
  • Turin’s history and ties to the automotive industry
  • Culinary highlights: hazelnuts, wine, and chocolate
  • Architectural features: historic arcades and ornate signage
  • Best times to visit Turin
  • Monica’s two-day itinerary for vegan travelers
  • Insider tips on vegan gelato and aperitivo spots
A drone picture looking down on to Venice with the Text: Learn more about our vegan tours

Learn more about what we talk about

  • Turin, Italy: Explore the culinary and cultural capital of Piedmont, renowned for its wine, truffles, and Aperitivo culture.
  • Monica Simoni’s Bed and Breakfast: Gain insider tips from Monica, owner of a charming B&B, for an authentic Turin experience.
  • Culinary Delights: Discover Turin’s gastronomic treasures, including vegan porcini mushroom risotto and homemade gianduiotti.
  • Must-Visit Attractions: Monica highlights Turin’s top sights, from historic landmarks like Piazza San Carlo to cinematic marvels like the Mole Antonelliana.
  • Local Culture: Learn about Turin’s rich history, from its Roman origins to its role as the first capital of Italy and the birthplace of Aperitivo

Other World Vegan Travel content connected with this episode

Connect with Monica

Transcript

Brighde: Hello Monica, welcome to the World Vegan Travel Podcast.

I’m so excited to have you on today.

Monica: Hi Brighde, it’s a pleasure for me to be here.

Brighde: Yes, I’m really pleased because we’re talking about today, one of my absolute favorite destinations in the world, Italy, specifically Turin or Torino, which is a place that you live. We’re going to be talking about the perfect two-day itinerary in Turin, and you actually work in the vegan travel space in Turin. So I would love it, if you wouldn’t mind, telling our listeners a little bit about what you do in this space.

Monica: Yes. I am Monica, and I live and work here in Turin. We say Torino in Italian, and I have been a vegan for 10 years. Before that, I’d been a vegetarian for 20 years. Then I met my partner, he was a vegetarian and we decided to become vegans together. And then after 20 years as a secretary, I decided to quit my job and start a new adventure. So I opened a vegan bed and breakfast two years ago. And now I’m here with the support of my partner, and also with the help of my cat, Emma. She’s lovely, and she became, let’s say, the mascot of the bed and breakfast because, some of the guests came here just to see her, just to meet her. So she is the queen of the house.

Brighde: I love that, Monica. I love that. I think it’s so funny, as vegans, even if our pets, our companion animals aren’t necessarily completely connected with our business, we bring them into our business somehow. For example, our cats are on our “About Us” page on our website as well, and it sounds like your cat has the following as well. So, cute. And It’s wonderful that you’re talking about Turin because you have lived in Turin for such a long time, so you’re definitely going to be able to help listeners maybe get interested in Turin, and come up with this itinerary. I would love to know a little bit more about your bed breakfast, if that’s okay. Can you explain where your bed and breakfast is located in Turin? What people can expect if they were to stay there? And, you know, like budget is sort of a more budget option or a more luxury option. I’d love to communicate that to our listeners.

Monica: Yeah. Yeah. With pleasure. My B&B has just one room, a double room, and the room is inside [00:03:00] our apartment. It’s quite separate. It’s well separated from it, but it’s inside our apartment. It’s a classic bed and breakfast, and we offer also a 100% vegan bed and breakfast for our guests. And we have all sorts of guests. We have vegan guests, but also vegan-curious guests and non-vegan guests as well. And also there is a lovely balcony from where you can admire the fantastic view of the mountains because here in Turin, we are very near to the mountains.

Brighde: Yes, I have been to Turin a couple of times, and I will say that when we visited Turin, we really put it down as a potential place that we would like to live in one day, maybe for a short few months or so.

Monica: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Because it

really

Brighde: is in such a fantastic location, especially if you like mountains.

And I think a lot of people forget about Turin because they think about Rome. They think about Venice. Milan gets a lot of visitors because it’s a big transportation hub. So I feel like a lot of people forget about Turin. So can you just tell us, like, where is it, and what is it famous for?

Monica: Yeah, so Turin is in the northwest of Italy. So it’s very near to the Alps, and it’s near also to France and Switzerland. Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region, and in the Piedmont region, you can find a lot of food, very famous, popular food. You can find hazelnuts. You can have wine, [00:05:00] because Piedmont is very famous for wine, like Tuscany, and other things famous here in Piedmont are, what to eat. I mean, because we Italians speak all the time about food. So apart from wine and hazelnuts, it’s also famous for chocolate.

Turin is very famous for chocolate.

We have a very particular, very unusual chocolate. It is called Gianduiotti. And we can have Gianduiotti everywhere, mostly, also here in in our bed and breakfast, but in the famous historic cafes here in Turin.

Gianduiotti is made from chocolate and hazelnuts.

Brighde: Ah, so it’s kind of like a Nutella? Is it like a chocolate bar?

Monica: Yes, that’s right, yeah. It’s a small chocolate, and it has a very strange, unusual shape.

Brighde: Oh.

Monica: It’s very, very popular here. Yeah. It’s like Nutella. Yes.

Brighde: Is it usually vegan? Or are there vegan versions?

Monica: The traditional version of it is vegan, actually. But now we have two versions, the version with milk, and the version, we call fondente. This is the version, vegan, of the Gianduiotti.

Brighde: I think most people would know that it’s not a huge city, but it’s quite large. What is the population of Turin? And can you kind of explain a little bit about the layout of the city?

Monica: Well, the center is not very big. If you consider the metropolitan area, it’s quite big. It’s quite big. Yeah.

Brighde: And if I remember well, there is a river which kind of divides the city. And something that’s quite unique, if I remember well, is the very wide streets.

Monica: Yeah, we call it portico.

Brighde: Thank you. Can you explain that?

Monica: Oh yes, Torino has a lot of arcades or porticos, we call it porticos. Their length is 11 miles. Yeah.

So this basically means

Brighde: that you can walk around most of the downtown of Turin in the rain and not get wet because essentially the pavements are covered by these porticos.

Monica: That’s correct.

Brighde: And I guess in summertime it’s nice as well because you have a lot of shade?

Monica: Yeah, yeah. And also in winter, if it rains or snows, you have a shelter from it. Yeah.

Brighde: I remember well, there are lots of piazzas as well.

Monica: We have beautiful piazzas here, very wide piazzas. The most important piazza is Piazza Castello. And it’s one of the spots on my itinerary, obviously. Inside Piazza Castello, we have the Royal Palace, of course. Well, we have two Royal Palaces, the official Royal Palace. And then we have Palazzo Madama, just in the heart of Piazza Castello.

So Chilean has a very rich history and it was founded almost 2, 000 years ago by a Celtic tribe called Tarini.

In fact, Turina means, Torino. Torino means little boar. [00:09:00] So we have, of course, boars everywhere here in Torino. And we also have these little fountains, green fountains. And they are everywhere, in the piazzas, in the streets. We call it Torette, and they’re very, very strange.

These fountains are everywhere here and they offer drinking water to everyone.

We can talk about the rest of the history of Turin. So after the Celtic tribe, came the Romans, and after the Romans, the royal family of Savoy came here. In 1861, Torino was the first capital of Italy.

So, thanks to the Savoy family, we have a lot of royal palaces in Torino and also outside Torino, beautiful gardens and a lot of things to see also inside the palaces. And now, Turin is the fourth most important city in Italy, after Milan, Rome and Naples. And Turin is important also for the car industry.

We have a very important car industry. It’s called Fiat, maybe you’ve heard of it?

Brighde: I have, yes.

Monica: Yeah. As I said before, it’s very important also for chocolate.

Brighde: I remember about five or seven years ago now, that Turin really became quite famous, or it got a lot of coverage in the vegan world, because I believe the mayor of Turin was trying to make Turin a very vegan-friendly city.

Monica: Yeah.

Are

Brighde: you able to talk about that at all?

Monica: Yeah. The administration of Turin at the time, wanted also children in schools to have some vegan meals. And so I think it was good for children. Also there are many vegan restaurants, at the time, so the choice was wide.

Brighde: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. That’s one of the things that we like when we come to Turin, is the incredible vegan restaurants. And you’ve talked about the history as well. The food is so popular, the food is so good. And you’ve talked about the wine as well. I mean, these are reasons enough for a vegan to want to come to Turin.

Is Turin worth a visit apart from these reasons or are these really the main reasons to visit?

Monica: Yes, after the Olympic Games in 2006, most things here changed. So, apart from that, in Turin there are a lot of monuments, a lot of museums as well that are very important and also interesting. For example, we have the Egyptian Museum, it’s very famous.

It’s the second most important museum in the world after Cairo. So it’s quite important.

Two days ago, Johnny Depp came here to visit the museum. Well, he came here to shoot some scenes of his new film about Modigliani. And then he also visited the Museum of Cinema. So, we’re quite happy to have Johnny Depp here.

So there really are so many reasons why anyone, but especially vegans, would want to visit Turin, whether they are interested in film, whether they’re interested in history, from like, you know, Egyptian history, to [00:13:00] medieval, to sort of renaissance, and more.

Brighde: It’s amazing. What time of year would you say is the best time to travel to Turin?

Monica: You can come here in March, or April, so at the start of the spring because the temperatures are better. We have a beautiful park here. It’s called, Valentino Park.

Also, if you have time, you can go to Monte dei Cappuccini. And it’s a church on the hill, just in front of the river, Po, which is the main river of the city. And in 10 minutes, you can go up there, and you have a beautiful view of the city.

So it’s very romantic.

Brighde: I have been lucky enough to visit Turin in the summertime, and it was lovely. I’m sure it can get quite hot in Turin, but I think it’s maybe not as hot for as long a time as maybe in Rome, and Florence, and further down South. And in the wintertime, of course, you have the mountains because it is an Olympic Place. I’m sure there’s lots of ways to enjoy the mountains, whether downhill skiing or other things as well. But I don’t think it gets too cold in the city, right? It’s so cold.

Monica: It is cold, in November, and in December, and also in January, yeah. Yeah, it can get quite cold, yeah, yeah.

When

Brighde: you say cold, how cold do you mean?

Monica: I mean, temperatures, around zero degrees, yeah, yeah.

Brighde: Okay, for me, that’s not that

Monica: cold, honestly.

I can’t imagine, yeah.

Brighde: [00:15:00] Yes, because, I was also in Finland over the new year in the Arctic Circle, and that got very, very cold. So zero degrees or 30 degrees fahrenheit or so is not so bad, but yes, I agree you need to have good coat for zero degrees.

Monica: For sure.

Yeah,

Brighde: So, we have so much information already, but you have carefully created a perfect two day itinerary for vegan visitors to Turin.

I would love it if you could share that with our listeners now. What would we do on the first day of the itinerary that you’ve prepared?

Monica:

So, we can start our tour with Piazza San Carlo, and it’s in the heart of Torino, and we call it for its elegance, the living room of Torino. We call it the salotto of Torino. And, of course, there are a lot of arcades around the piazza, and beautiful cafes, historic cafes, elegant shops, so you can enjoy a lot of things here.

Then we can move and we can go to another piazza, Piazza Castello. Piazza Castello is very large and we talked about it earlier, and then we can go to Teatro Reggio. Teatro Reggio is in Piazza Castello.

Brighde: Oh, wow.

Monica: Yeah. It’s, it’s quite famous. And then we can go to Galleria Subalpina. Galleria Subalpina is a covered gallery. And it’s beautiful because there are beautiful shops, antiques, and also there is a little garden inside the gallery, so it’s amazing.[00:17:00]

And then we can move and go to La Mole Antoneliana, and we can move again and go to see a strange building called, we call it Fetta di Polenta, and it’s a strange building because it’s very thin, and this color is thin, and it reminds us of polenta. I don’t know if you heard about polenta?

Yes,

Brighde: You mean corn that has ground up and we cook it like a porridge and

we put something on top?

Monica: Yeah, that’s correct. And we eat polenta in winter, and so it’s very common to eat it. We cut it in slices, so, this building is very thin, so it reminds me of a slice of polenta, and we call it that way for this reason. What is

Brighde: is the name of this building?

Monica: The official name is Palazzo Scarabozzi. It’s a strange name, but it’s also difficult to remember. So we just call it fetta di Polenta.

Brighde: That’s so cool, that is so cool.

Monica: It sounds like we can take some lovely pictures so far on day and just really discover these beautiful corners of the city. Wow, we’ve already fitted in a lot on this day. I’m guessing by now, it’s probably in the afternoon. What could we do after that?

Well, in the afternoon, you can go to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, another piazza. It’s the the biggest piazza in Italy, actually. Yeah, it’s very big. And in front of the piazza, you can find the River Po. You can just walk along the river. In summertime you can have a gelato or you can have a drink.

And in the afternoon, if it’s six o’clock, you can have an aperitivo. Actually, we invented aperitivo.

Brighde: Oh,

Monica: Torino. Yes, in Torino, we invented it. Yes. You can have a drink and have a lot of food, as usual. And then we are done. So we can start a new day with the second part of the itinerary.

Yes, Yes.

Brighde: So don’t worry listeners Monica is going to be sharing her favorite restaurants vegan or vegan-friendly later on, so don’t worry because I know that Turin has some amazing restaurants for Italian food that’s vegan. So I can’t wait to hear about that. Let’s hear about what we could do on day two.

Monica: So we can start day two, in another little piazza, called the Piazza della Consolata, with a lovely church, and, there is also a historic cafe called Albicerina. So in Albicerina, you can just enjoy a coffee. The atmosphere is very elegant and you can stay relaxed inside, or if it’s summertime, you can stay outside.

Bicerine is famous for a typical drink, a non-alcoholic drink, but it’s milk in it, so vegans can’t drink it, but you can enjoy some coffee and breath the atmosphere of the coffee.

After that, you can go to the most important market in the city, Porta Palazzo. It’s a huge market. You can [00:21:00] buy, any sort of food, or also, home accessories. It’s quite famous here in Torino. There are a lot of people who go there. I usually go there to get some vegetables, and fruit. And the prices are interesting there.

And after that you can visit the Duomo. It’s from the Renaissance period. And it’s the cathedral of the city. In the afternoon you can go visit, Museo Egizio if you feel like it.

Brighde: Museo Egizio.

Monica: Museo Egizio, yeah, Egyptian Museum. And then if you have time you can go to the Valentino Park, just walk there and it’s very romantic.

There is also a bench. You can also take a picture of it because it’s a strange bench with two lamps, strange lamps, and it’s quite romantic. So you can go there and have a look.

Brighde: Fantastic. So, you’ve shared so many places that listeners could go and check out but, you know, vegans are highly motivated with food so why don’t share with us some of your favorite restaurants that you think travelers to Turin should check out?

Monica: Yes, so one of my favorite restaurants here is called Soul Kitchen. Soul Kitchen is an amazing restaurant, it’s very elegant, and if you want to try special meals, you can go there.

Brighde: And, well, another restaurant I usually go to, is L’Orto già Salsamentario, and drink very nice wines. Also in L’Orto già Salsamentario. The chef is amazing and he explains all the dishes. So it’s very interesting if you go there.

Monica: I

Brighde: have been to that restaurant before and I remember the staff there being really, really

Monica: nice.

Yeah.

Brighde: And, I believe it’s like a family owned restaurant or something, and they come around and they talk to you. It has this beautiful, I don’t know what the building used to be, but they still have the old signage there, which is very sort of elaborate and ornate, and this is something that’s very typical of Turin, correct?

Monica: Yeah, yeah. It was actually a restaurant before and then the owner decided to change the type of restaurant. It wasn’t a vegan restaurant before, and then the chef decided to make it a vegan restaurant.

Brighde: It’s so beautiful and ornate. And going back to Soul Kitchen for a moment, I think I have been there. I had dinner with some friends there a long time ago now, and it was, you’re right, elegant and very fancy. And I’m having a little look at the website to remind myself, and it really is like fine dining with a degustation station menu.

Monica: Yeah, yeah,

Brighde: I think this is a culinary experience that is quite unusual to have as a vegan.

Monica: Yeah, definitely, yes, it’s very nice and fancy, yeah.

Brighde: And what are your other favorite eateries to check out?

Monica: There is another restaurant I love, it’s called Mezzaluna Mio, and it’s in this lovely little piazza called Emanuele Filiberto, and if you go there, it seems like you are in Paris, because it looks like Paris, and so you can eat outside, outdoors, and it actually is the oldest vegan restaurant in Turin.

It was opened in 1996, so it’s quite old, and you can try some dishes. That’s the chef. Well, she made an interpretation of some traditional dishes of Torino.

Brighde: I love it when I go to a city and I can have vegan versions of the traditional food. Something that makes me a little bit sad about going to France or Paris, for example, is that there are so many vegan restaurants in Paris, but very few of them sell vegan versions of French cuisine, Parisian cuisine, the food around Paris. So, I’m always looking to find places that sell vegan versions or that serve vegan versions of the local cuisine. That’s super, super fun. Wow, that sounds delicious. I definitely want to check that out. Do you have any other places?

Monica: Well, if you want to have an aperitivo, so a vegan aperitivo, you can go to a place called Smile Tree. And it’s a place in Piazza della Consolata. And you can have a drink and a lot of vegan food as aperitivo.

So it’s quite interesting as well.

Brighde: So, in Turin with aperitivo, is it little bit like In Venice, where you have cicchetti, and you go from place to place, or generally you just stay in one place.

Monica: In Torino you just stay in one place. Yes, but you can have an aperitivo. We call it aperichena because it’s a substitute of a dinner, because we have a lot of food with a drink. So with one drink we can just spend 10, 15 euros and a lot of food. So we call it apericena because cena means, yes, means dinner in Italian.

So, now I’m remembering this about Turin. I had forgotten actually, that the aperitivo or apericena, it’s not just a small bowl of nuts, or potato chips. The counter of the bar is filled with sandwiches..

Monica: Yes.

and

Brighde: all sorts of different things,

Monica: Yes.

Brighde: and you are given a plate of that, is that correct?

Monica: Yes. And also, we can have rice, and vegetables, and a lot of things.

Brighde: That sounds so fun. Please tell me there is a good place for gelato in Turin.

Monica: Yes. Yes, of course. Yes. Well, you can go in any gelateria. We call it gelateria, and you can have vegan flavors. There is a place, it’s called, Gelato Amico. And there, everything is vegan. And everything is gluten free, so it’s an amazing place to eat.

Brighde: One of the best things ever.

Well, Monica, I want to thank you so much for sharing your local knowledge with our listeners about this incredible city Turin. I love Torin. I would love to go back there.

There’s so many places that you’ve mentioned today that I didn’t know about, or I’ve forgotten about. So I cannot wait to go back. And I would love to come and stay in your bed and breakfast. Can you explain to our listeners how they can book your bed and breakfast, because I know that vegans when they’re traveling, they love to support vegan businesses so that they know that their money is going to supporting vegans and that those business owners are not going to be spending their money on non-vegan things.

How can people find your bed and breakfast and how can they book. Can you explain that please?

People can directly book the room of the bed and breakfast, and they can find us through our website. And then they can contact us, and just make the reservation.

Brighde: And that is unbuoninizio.com.

Correct?

Yeah, un buon inizio. That’s correct. Yeah.

Yes. So, listeners, you can go to the show notes and you can get a link to Monica’s bed and breakfast there. I want to thank you so much, Monica, for taking the time to put together all of this interesting information for our listeners. And listeners, I really hope that if you are in Turin, you will check out Unbuoninizio, for your accommodation while you’re there.

I think staying in a bed and breakfast is just such a wonderful way to support small vegan businesses, vegan bed of breakfast, of course, and is one of them. And booking directly with the accommodation really means that there’s as much of the money as possible is going to the business owner. So I definitely recommend listeners go and check this out and share this bed and breakfast with anyone that you happen to know that is going Turin as well.

Monica, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to be on the podcast and I wish you all the best with your business.

Monica: Thank you, Brighde. Thank you very much. Thank you.

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