Piazza San Carlo is one of the most important squares in Turin’s historic centre which city folk consider “the living room of the city”.
In the middle of the square, there is the Monument to Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, created by Carlo Marochetti in 1838, also known as Caval ëd Bronz (bronze horse, in Piedmontese), which depicts the duke in the act of sheathing his sword after the victory of San Quentin. Numerous historic buildings surround the square. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the square assumed its current elegant appearance and was entitled as the western “twin” church, dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo.
It is here, in this square, that in 1903 a coffee shop opened near the church of San Carlo, at the intersection of Via Roma and Via Alfieri, that was soon nicknamed “café d’la Sacrestia” (coffee shop of the sacristy).
King Umberto I, Mafalda and Maria di Savoia, elegant like no other, with their heads held high, used to arrive at the Caffè Torino with a wing of butlers in their wake and the waiters in livery went out to greet them.
It was here that every Friday, Ida Einaudi waited for her husband Luigi, President of the Republic, to return from Rome to share a quick aperitif. And it was also here that Alcide De Gasperi came to relax after the passionate rallies he held on the square
In the fifties, it became a protagonist of worldly chronicles whenever stars like James Stewart, Ava Gardner, Brigitte Bardot and Erminio Macario visited the café. Renowned for its coffee, bonbons and pastries, in the late seventies its business expanded with the inauguration of its internal restaurant L’Infernot.
The rampant bull
The rampant bull is the emblem and symbol of Turin.
Made of bronze in 1930, it was set in the pavement of Piazza San Carlo in front of the entrance to Caffè Torino.
Since then, popular tradition has it that trampling on the “genitals” of the bull brings good luck, so much so that the Turinese passing in front of the Café, fulfill this superstitious ritual very discreetly without being noticed.