The Castles of
Living in a Fairy Tale with Hundreds of Happy Endings
Imagine Yourself a King, or Treat Yourself Like a Queen,
Upon A Time, the Royal Italian House of Savoy had its origins in the region of
Piedmont, a relentlessly picturesque place with more hills and lakes per square
mile than even
Sleep like a queen in a castle that
has been turned into an inviting inn, like Castello
di Verduno, in the
Dine like a prince at Castello di Rivoli, Castello di Mango, or Castello dell'enoteca di Canale, just a few of the many castles that have become fine restaurants. Drink a king’s ransom of some of the region’s finest vintages while touring Castello di Barolo, Castello di Grinzane Cavour and many more that have been turned into world-class wineries. Or simply stroll the grounds of any number of castles, drinking in the history of these dazzling monuments to a bygone world.
This majestic past is virtually
everywhere you turn in
Castle hopping in Turin might begin with a stop at the magnificent Palazzo Reale, or royal palace built originally between 1659 and 1674, then expanded over nearly two centuries to house a royal family growing ever larger, and of course, ever richer. The original 17th Century sections feature a sweeping grand staircase – the better for a princess to make a dazzling entrance. The magnificent throne and audience rooms stand as priceless attestations that it’s good to be royal. A priceless collection of tapestries and paintings fills the Sala dei Corazzieri. If that’s not history enough, a final addition, done at the dawn of the 20th century, led to the unearthing of Roman-period ruins on the site.
stop on the royal road might be Il Valentino, the onetime pied-a-terre of the royal Lady
Palazzo Carignano, of similarly royal pedigree, has similarly opened its doors to the teeming masses. The birthplace of kings, and seat of government under Napolean, it has since 1938 been home to the breathtaking collection of art and important historical documents that comprise the Museum of the Risorgimento. While the museum is an added bonus, the palazzo is a work of art unto itself. With its intricately decorated façade and tantalizing interplay of curves, this building has recently been declared one of the "Treasures of Humanity" by the United Nations.
A tour of
Other treasures are the result of the
First in line is
Piedmont’s splendid Castello di
Venaria, the plans for which the French Sun King had studied before setting
out to build his own larger, royal playground a year later. Venaria, of course, was hardly modest.
This hunting lodge, which came complete with its own constructed city, was
designed to shore up the royal image of another noble, Carlo Emanuele II. For 30
years the palace was indeed the site of fine hunting parties and other grand
gatherings, but alas those French once again took notice of the aptly named
Already restored in
a dramatic fashion, the Castello de Rivoli now houses the
Countless other palaces, villas and
ruins beg for exploration and discovery in this fantastical place full of
history, culture and opulence. Far beyond the reach of