The Italian History of the Automobile

20120506-182649.jpgI started today by listening to the guidebook. It said to go to the Italian Museum of Risorgimento. This was listed as one of the top two things to do in Turin. Think of it as a museum about how modern Italy became established as a united, independent state. Sound interesting? No, of course not – it was boring as hell. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking. I could have gone to see the royal armory instead, but no … I had to listen to the guidebook that I already didn’t trust. And once you’re in, there’s no easy way out. I spent my time there speeding through and looking for a bathroom.

I passed the rest of the morning going from chocolate shop to chocolate shop buying giandiuiotti and giandiuie, planning for a tasting of both at a future TC night!

Lunch found me returning to the restaurant that had rejected me the night before. I had ravioli stuffed with veal and served with a pesto sauce, duck breast on a bed of arugula, and apple strudel with zabaglione. All were outstanding, although I think that, excepting dessert, I had done better the night before (I know it isn’t fair to compare lunch and dinner, but it’s my blog, so I’m doing it).

Incidentally, this was better than any apple strudel I had during my visit to Austria, and I told the waitress that. It wasn’t called strudel, because if it had been, I wouldn’t have ordered it. Perhaps I’m more of a strudel person than I thought.

I visited Mille Vigne again, this time to pick up a few bottles to take home, and then spent the afternoon in a pastime that Detroit and Torino share …. Cars! I went to the national automobile museum, which was a lot of fun. It was really fascinating to look at the old European cars, of which there were many Italian models on display.


One fascinating observation was that the European industry didn’t start marketing cars to the masses until Austin Motors started doing so in 1937. The museum treated this as though it were a new thing, but to my mind they were sorely behind, as Ford had done this with the Model T three decades prior. Then again, there was little mention of an American car industry, and almost none of the Asian manufacturers (excepting a single display of production numbers). One could almost guess that the entire history of the automobile happened in Europe, with a focus on Italy.

After this I visited Lingotto, the prior Fiat factory that has since been converted into a mall. Among its credits is a test track on the roof, for which there is a spiral ramp at one end of the building.

Dinner found me at the original Lavazza cafe and restaurant.

I had 5 different amuse bouches


A gratin of greens (like a small quiche, really)


Agnolotti stuffed with ricotta and served with a thyme scented butter

Herbed rack of lamb with apple chestnut sauce and potatoes.

Conclusions: loved the gratin and the agnolotti, but mixed feelings on the lamb. I think it was sous vide, and unfortunately the chef needs to raise the temperature on the machine a bit. It wasn’t just rare, it was almost black and blue, which is too bad, because the flavors were otherwise great. It was served with small bits of roasted and browned potatoes that were enchanting.


I eschewed dessert, but they were gracious enough to bring me some sweets with my espresso.

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