This is no health farm. Piedmont – underneath the Alps, in the top left-hand corner of Italy – introduced the world to Nutella and Martini.
It’s also where chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick was invented, 50 years before any lolly-eater had ever heard of a Magnum.
So it’s no surprise that my first stop in Turin, Piedmont’s main city, is Gelateria Pepino, where the Magnum’s forerunner first went on sale in 1939.
Speed break: Turin is 90 minutes from London, putting it in range as a weekend destination
The city is still curiously proud of the Pinguino (penguin) lolly, which was, until the patent lapsed in the Eighties, the only product of its type in the world.
Edoardo Cavagnino, grandson of the inventor, still runs the family business, the oldest ice cream manufacturer in Europe.
The first appearance of the chocolate-covered ice cream: The revolutionary Pinguino (penguin) lolly went on sale in 1939 at Turin’s Gelateria Pepino, and came in several flavours
In his tweedy suit and neatly tailored waistcoat, he’s a dapper chap, talking proudly of how a few miles away, high up in the mountains, a team of 15 people still stir and blend ingredients in the traditional manner.
I’m eating gelato, not ice cream. Big difference.
I nibble on triangular Giandujotto chocolates and drink bicerin, a traditional hot drink with layers of chocolate, coffee and cream
‘Ice cream uses cheaper ingredients. More fat, more sugar,’ says Edoardo, passing me one flavour after another.
‘You know why you feel so full up after eating industrial ice cream? They pump it up with air.’
Turin is just an hour and a half from London. That puts it in range as a weekend destination.
I stay in the Grand Hotel Sitea, a five-minute walk from the centre of town. It’s traditional, but not stuffy.
I’ve come here for the food. For a start, Turin calls itself the ‘world capital of chocolate’.
Tasty: Italian gelato is a big hit with visitors
This dates to the local ruling family in the 17th century, the Savoys, who brought cocoa beans from the Americas and went on to export chocolate to the world.
The city’s art nouveau grand cafes bring this chocolate obsession to life.
There are dozens of them, with high ceilings, oak-panelled walls, marble floors and sparkly chandeliers.
I nibble on triangular Giandujotto chocolates and drink bicerin, a traditional hot drink with layers of chocolate, coffee and cream.
I dunk my biscuits, as instructed by the locals.
While the rest of Italy feasts on the Mediterranean diet, Piedmont does not. If you’re watching your weight, forget it.