About 70 Cafés “reflecting the common heritage of Europe” are part of the Historic Cafés Route, from Romania to Denmark, from Portugal to Austria. Sixteen of them are in Italy; Ten in Turin alone, the European city with the largest number.
There is a new Cultural Route crossing Europe passing through Turin. Just officially recognized by the Council of Europe, 2022. Historic Cafés Route was created on the initiative of Vassilis Stathakis, owner of the business of Café Kipos in Chania, Crete. Ten years ago, in 2012, he was informed by the archives management that Café Kipos is the only Historic Café on the island. This was the element that triggered the idea of creating a Route bringing together the Historic Cafés of Europe starting from Crete. Vassilis Stathakis began traveling – Belgium, Vienna, Italy, Paris – and making contacts. Today about seventy Cafés “reflecting the common heritage of Europe” are part of the Route, from Romania to Denmark, from Portugal to Austria, 16 are in Italy and ten in Turin alone, the European city with the largest number.
“By the end of the year we will become Historic Cafés of Turin and Piedmont, and we will grow even more,” says Edoardo Cavagnino, owner of Pepino and president of the Association of Historic Cafés of Turin, returning from the conference held in Crete at the beginning of October regarding the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.
“Being included in an official Cultural Route is a true pride and a great commitment,” Cavagnino explains. “Now we have to work to increase cultural tourism in our city and the rest of the region, create events, cooperating with other Routes. The next important event will be the international conference scheduled to be held in Turin at the end of March 2023, which will involve the heads of the Council of Europe, the Ministry, the Chambers of Commerce, local institutions, the associations of Historic Cafés, the Historic Cafés of Italy, organized by the Historic Cafés Route. There will be also the representatives of the Cultural Routes that cross Piedmont and Cultural Routes aiming to be certified such as the Chocolate Route and the Vermouth Route. We will set up a large photographic exhibition on the Cultural Routes passing through Italy and the Historic Cafés. It will be a moment of great media visibility and international exchange”.
While waiting for Europe to appreciate the charm of our Historic Cafés, we are trying to reinforce the Turin branch of the Route.
The oldest is the Bicerin, since 1763 in front of the Consolata Church. At the time it was the workshop of the aquaculturist Dentis, the current Café is from the mid-19th century, all boiseries and marble tables. Cavour and Alexandre Dumas sat here, Nietzsche and Puccini, Gozzano, Soldati, Calvino, Umberto Eco made it a location for the Prague Cemetery. The perfect place to enjoy a perfect bicerin, (remembering that coffee, chocolate and cream must not be mixed, but must melt on the palate). Piazza Castello, change of scenery and era. In 1875, Ferdinando Baratti and Edoardo Milano moved here, to the new Galleria dell’Industria Subalpina, their Café opened in 1858 in Via Dora Grossa, today’s Via Garibaldi. A luxurious establishment, Guido Gozzano among the regulars, Fruttero and Lucentini set the first scene of La donna della domenica there.
Right next door, Mulassano, since 1907, has been a gem, 31 square meters of boiseries, the fountain on the counter, the legendary sandwiches invented here and that strange clock high up behind the counter.
From here, we continue towards Via Po, to Fiorio‘s, another journey through time: since 1780 politicians and writers have sat on the red velvet sofas, and every morning Carlo Alberto would start the day by asking “what do they say about us at Fiorio’s?”, while in Piazza Vittorio the Caffè Elena, with its historic Carpano (old Vermouth brand since 1786) sign and intact late 19th-century interior, was frequented by Pavese and today by Torinese of all ages, who also enjoy the large terrace overlooking the piazza.
From Piazza Castello you can move on to the other regal squares. Piazza Carignano with Pepino, since 1884 the official ice-cream parlour of the Royal House, where the legendary Pinguino was born in 1938; the Savoy drawing rooms of Piazza San Carlo, with Caffè San Carlo, 1822, which will reopen in the autumn after a total restoration, Stratta, a temple of chocolates and marrons glacés since 1836, where Cavour’s orders for court parties are stored, Caffè Torino, Belle Epoque interiors from the early 20th century, even Ava Gardner, BB and James Stewart sat here. And finally Platti, since 1875 under the arcades of Corso Vittorio, frequented by Pavese, Giulio Einaudi and Natalia Ginzburg.
The 10 exclusive addresses of the Turin branch of the Historic Cafés Route are a heritage and must be protected; they must remain excellences in terms of atmosphere, quality of offer and service. Cultural tourism is the trend and the Route a great opportunity: we have earned it, but now it is up to us to turn it into a strong element.
Published on October 29, 2022 in Corriere Torino