In the Lingotto district of Turin, just steps away from the original Fiat factory, is Eataly, a rust-colored warehouse that looks like an Italian Home Depot with its sunny logo and glass entryway. Inside, you won’t find nails or hammers, but pyramids of fresh artichokes, barrels of Friuli wines, and row after row of aging Parmesan wheels in brick-lined cellars.
Opened in 2007, the three-story Eataly calls itself the world’s biggest wine and food center, and a recent visit found no reason to doubt that claim. A row of vine-ripe tomatoes was longer than the entire produce section at Wal-Mart. Pastas in hundreds of unpronounceable shapes and sizes lined the ceiling-high shelves. And around every corner, open-air kitchens perfumed the air with the fruitiness of olive oil, the smoke and sizzle of Florentine steaks and the tangy aroma of bubbling Bolognese sauce.
The days when Turin was known exclusively as the home of automakers and a certain bloody shroud are over. Since hosting the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, Turin, a northern Italian city along the Po River, has been transformed from a nondescript industrial city into a cosmopolitan center of artisanal food and modern design.
“Twenty years ago, Turin was still just a one-company town,” said Alessandro Bertin, a city spokesman. “But in the last few years, the city is being reinvented by young industrial design studios and high-end food.”
Funky design shops have opened up. Old factories have been converted into art galleries. And inventive trattorias are turning Turin into one of Italy’s emerging food capitals.