Turin's historic cafes resemble grand museum-palaces rather than casual eating houses. Turin was the home of Italy's first king and these majestic cafes served as meeting places for the royal family, other nobility, artists and writers. Caffe San Carlo, Piazza San Carlo Follow the aroma of locally brewed bicerin to this busy cafe. Bicerin is a slightly bitter concoction of hot coffee, chocolate and cream served in a small glass and is a speciality of the city. Caffe San Carlo was founded in 1822 and started as a popular meeting place for left-wing patriots of the Risorgimento (Italian unification movement). The Japanese Cabinet Room was decorated in the style of a grand palace, with gilded mirrors, statues, soaring Roman columns and gold trimmings, and soon attracted the Turin literary crowd. French novelist Alexandre Dumas tasted his first bicerin here, Admiral Umberto Cagni and the Duke of Abruzzi planned their historic expedition to Antarctica while sipping coffee at the tables of this cafe, and philosopher Benedetto Croce spent many happy hours here discussing the meaning of life with poet Francesco Pastonchi. Today the cafe serves coffee, tea, cakes and home-made ice cream. It has a full-sized restaurant and is a popular place for wedding receptions. Piazza San Carlo 156, tel: 39 0 11 532586. Caffe Baratti & Milano, Piazza Castello In 1875, a local newspaper reported 'a splendid shop has been opened in the new Subalpina Gallery which is unrivalled for the size of its rooms, the richness and beauty of its decorations and its extensive range of products, all delicious'. King Vittorio Emanuele II granted this cafe the honour of displaying the House of Savoy's coat of arms, and it soon became a rendezvous for Turin's upper crust. Set in an elegant square lined with historic buildings, this recently renovated cafe has rich mahogany panels with finely carved decorations by the famous woodcarver Capisano. Sink your teeth into buttery, soft, delicious Cremini chocolates, or a scrumptious triangular Gianduiotti chocolate filled with hazelnuts from the nearby Langhe region. You'll also find fruit jellies, sugar-coated almonds and a particularly delicious chocolate cake on the menu. Piazza Castello 29, tel: 39 0 11 4407138. Caffe Mulassano, Piazza Castello Although this cafe is comparatively small its appearance is jewellery-box perfect, with gold and crimson trimmings, chandeliers, frescos and mirrors. This early 20th-century cafe was an elite haunt for nobles of the House of Savoy and artists from the nearby Teatro Regio. The cafe has been used countless times as a setting in Italian films as well as a backdrop for fashion shoots. Its facade of dark, carved wood panelling and gold drapes is in stark contrast to the graffiti on the wall outside the cafe. It has some magnificent period furnishings and an outdoor area protected from the weather by the tall ceilings of the neighbouring grand arcade. The waiters dress in starched white jackets and black bow ties. Piazza Castello 15, tel: 39 0 11 547990. Caffe Fiorio, Via Po Founded in 1780, the cafe was long a hotspot for artists and politicians. Dubbed the birthplace of the Italian Republic, it was where Cavour and Garibaldi plotted the future of the unified country. Today it is a good place to pop in for a quick lunch and some of the best ice cream in Turin. Try the vanilla flavour with generous scoops of gianduia (hazelnut and chocolate), whipped cream and Marsala-soaked amoretti biscuits. Via Po 8, tel: 39 0 11 8173225. For more information on Turin see www.enit.it .