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The Most Insanely Delicious Treat In Italy You Probably Haven’t Tried

The 18th-century version includes hot chocolate.COURTESY OF TURISMO TORINO E PROVINCIA

By Catherine Sabino

Each country has its own (bad or good) practices when it comes to dealing with the hours between meals, ranging from the chronic consumption of on-the-run nibbles to partaking in delightful rituals like the English custom of afternoon tea. Italians aren’t big on what they call merende, or snacks, preferring to save their appetites and calories for the myriad pleasures of the table at pranzo or cena (or among young urbanites, apericena). But despite the admirable no-nosh discipline practiced by its food-savvy natives, Italy is home to one of the best snacks in Europe, called the Merenda Reale, and unless you’ve visited Turin, you probably haven’t had a chance to try it, or even heard of it.


An assortment of regional biscuits and cookies accompany the royal snack. They’re referred to as bagnati, since they are to be dipped in either the hot chocolate or bicerin.COURTESY OF TURISMO TORINO E PROVINCIA

Turin, an especially beautiful city that should be on more American travelers’ itineraries, was long the seat of the royal Savoy family, who built lavish palaces in town and in the surrounding Piedmont countryside. Life at court, while sumptuous, could be a challenge for even those with less-than-robust appetites during the wait between meals … continue reading



Catherine Sabino has worked for magazines in Italy and the US, and was editor-in-chief of Forbes Special Interest Publications, Gotham Magazine and Four Seasons Magazine, a travel and lifestyle publication. In addition to living and going to school in Italy, she has written two books on Italian design, published by Crown/Clarkson Potter, and has produced features from many regions in Italy and countries in Europe. Her focus is on travel in Italy and Western Europe.

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