The Royal Residences of Turin and Piedmont
Reggia di Venaria
By Lara Statham
Dedicated to the goddess Diana, the Court of Savoy’s hunting estate, just a short distance from the centre of Turin in Venaria, is a spectacular baroque palace dating from the mid 17th century.
Commissioned by Carlo Emanuele II, the lodge, gardens and surrounding park of La Mandria were designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte. However, the lodge, as we see it today was almost entirely the work of Filippo Juvarra who inherited the project in 1716 following Castellamonte’s death. During this period, some of the masterpieces of the complex were created, including the Great Gallery, the Church of St Hubert, the Great Stables and the Orangerie. Benedetto Alfieri, appointed on Juvarra’s death in 1736, added the Rondò gallery with its elegant statues representing the four seasons.
Known for many years as ‘il Versailles del Piemonte’, this was the chief pleasure palace of the Savoy court, where hunting expeditions were rounded off in style with feasts and parties. Today Reggia di Venaria in Piedmont is also home to major exhibitions and concerts. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is said to be the 5th most visited cultural site in Italy. And it really does merit a visit. Visitors can easily spend a full day here, with the full ticket price including: • entrance to the palace where you can take in the atmosphere of 17th and 18th century court life while admiring the architectural masterpieces, period furniture and baroque art inside. • entrance to all the temporary exhibitions – there are usually 3 or 4 to choose from. • entrance to the gardens with a stunning alpine backdrop where you can relax by taking a stroll (umbrellas to shade from the sun are provided during the hot summer months). Plunge into the period atmosphere and see the sights from a horse-drawn carriage. Kids will also love the train and romantics can enjoy the gondola on the pond.
• entrance to the sound and light show at the Fontana del Cervo (Fountain of the Stag) • access to the Dolce Stil Novo restaurant by famous Turin born chef Alfredo Russo, the Caffè degli Argenti and the garden patio where it is wonderful to sit in the warmer months. In fact, there is so much to see and do at Reggia di Venaria, you may well find yourself coming back for more. visit La Venaria Reale website for more info: http://www.lavenaria.it/web/