A tour among the residences of kings and queens in Turin and all over Piedmont: does it not sound as a great idea?
I have kept asking myself for a long time why I have never been there so far. Now, after a long weekend spent in Turin and its province, I feel like having entered into an unknown and charming place, once reserved only to royals, statesmen and famous people.
Whether you appreciate the royals or not, visiting their historic residences opens your perception toward a new dimension, unknown to the most, not only because of the lifestyle and luxury whose taste is more or less doubtful, but for the beauty of the halls and the history laying behind every residence.
But let us start with perhaps the most famous Italian Royal Palace: Palazzo Reale. Located in the centre of Turin and therefore easily reacheblem this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the first Savoy residence set in Piedmont and the undiscussed stage for centuries of Savoy politics, since it was the official residence of the Kings of Sardinia until 1859 and of Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Italy, until 1865.
Becoming Royal Residence in 1563, as Emanuele Filiberto moved his residence from the duchy of Chambéry, it preserved its original 17th century façade, work of Carlo Morello. The symmetry is broken up on its left by the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, built by Guarino Guarini at the end of the 17th century to treasure the most important Christian relics.
After mounting the Domenico Ferri’s monumental great staircase commissioned by Vittorio Emanuele II to celebrate the Unity of Italy, the visit opens up to a sequel of boardrooms: the first is the Sala dei Corazzieri or Sala delle Dignità, where there are two French Beauvais-style tapestries (made around 1695).
Next are the Sala delle Udienze and the Sala del Consiglio, where Carlo Alberto signed the Constitution (Statuto) in 1848. Here it is possible to admire the astonishing 17th century ceilings and Pelagio Pelagi’s 18th century furnitures and decorations. The monumental Benedetto Alfieri’s staircase takes the visitors to the Filippo Juvarra’s Gallery – decorated by the Beaumont work of art – and the the Royal apartments. The gallery was turned into Royal Armery in 1837 by Carlo Alberto and keeps one of the richest worldwide hand to hand arms, fire-arms and armours. Among the most interesting ones are Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy’s joust armour and Carlo Emanuele’s equestrian one.
Opening hours to visit Palazzo Reale, symbol of the Savoy power, are from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 AM. to 7:30PM Torino+Piemonte Card allows free admission fee.
It has been announced that, starting from April 2013, it will take place the Royal Bike Tour, an electric bicycle guided tour. Tourists can cycle from mid-town to the Reggia di Venaria and the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi. It is undoubtly a unique, funny and eco-friendly way to discover two other Royal Residences in Piedmont.