North side Rooms on the upper floor, La Rocca Fortress, Medieval village of Turin

The fortress is a copy of several Piedmontese and Valle d’Aosta castles, it consists of four floors: the basement which houses the prisons; the ground floor, on the other hand, the entrance, the atrium, the courtyard, the soldiers’ bedroom, the kitchens (of the servants and nobles) and the dining room; the first floor houses the bedroom caretaker who controlled access to the fortress, the baronial anteroom, the baronial hall (copy of the Spanish hall of the castle of Manta Saluzzo), the bedroom inspired by the King of France’s room Issogne castle, the oratory, the chamber of the Bridesmaid, and the chapel.

In the chapel all the inhabitants of the castle attend the celebrations: the lords near the altar, the servants at the back of the room, separated by a wooden gate, as in the chapel of the castle of Issogne. In the presbytery, the priest celebrates facing the altar, looking at the sacred image and reading the liturgical text in Latin on the illuminated missal. The walls and vault of the chapel are frescoed: on the sides the Annunciation and the Ascent of Christ to Calvary, in the vault the four Evangelists, all reproduced from one of the main monuments of the Piedmontese fifteenth century, the preceptory of S. Antonio di Ranverso.

On the presbytery, the cross vault is painted like a starry sky, with voluminous gilded and painted ribs and a keystone with the coat of arms of the Counts of Challant. To the right, the door of the sacristy and the walled washbasin have Gothic-style architectural frames, trod from the stone ones existing in the church of S. Giovanni di Saluzzo, as well as the ciborium on the opposite wall. In the same church the floor with white, green and blue square tiles was copied, studied by Alfredo D’Andrade also in the marquis chapel of the castle of Revello.

Highlights works

Pillow holder
Clementina and Maria Broglia, 1884
Green woolen cloth embroidered with silk thread and golden thread; silk satin, suede, goose down, 54×58 cm
The pillow, placed on the altar, serves to hold the missal during the celebration. The letters IHS, a trigram of the name of Jesus, are embroidered in relief in Gothic characters. It was embroidered by the Countesses Clementina and Maria Broglia who, with other Turin ladies, collaborated in the preparation of the fortress by embroidering cushions and tablecloths. The model is taken from one of the first repertoires of ancient textile designs, published in 1877 by Dupont Auberville: Art industriel. The ornament des tissus: recueil historique et pratique.

Candlestick for the Easter candle
Albino Pichetto, 1884
Wrought and painted, iron, 195x51x51 cm
The blessing of the Easter candle is the culminating moment of Holy Saturday. It is accompanied by the singing of the Exultet, an act of praise and thanksgiving to Christ with which the mystery of the Redemption is announced. The large candle symbolizes the offer of graces; it is placed lit on an imposing candelabrum with an accentuated height development which symbolizes the “pillar of fire” that guided the people of Israel in the desert of Egypt.

Stocchero & Rocci company, 1884
Openwork, embossed, chiseled and gilded bronze; iron, Inscription: Stocchero & Rocci / Turin / 1884, engraved under, 28x15x8x96 cm
The thurible is a vase used in religious functions to exhale the smoke of incense. It consists of a cup, containing the burning embers on which the incense grains rest, and a perforated lid for the dispersion of smoke and the activation of combustion. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the thurible, suspended on four long chains to swing it, takes on the appearance of an elaborate architectural construction, with towers, spiers and pinnacles.

Ascent of Christ to Calvary
Giuseppe Rollini, 1884
Fresco with tempera finishes
The scene of the ascent of Christ to Calvary, with Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus to carry the cross, reproduces one of the lunettes painted by Giacomo Jaquerio in the sacristy of S. Antonio di Ranverso, in the years close to 1420. Yes it is one of the most important pages of international Gothic in northern Italy, in which the strong expressiveness of the figures and their human sensitivity represent the starting point of a Piedmontese tradition that will reach the full Renaissance with Giovanni Martino Spanzotti and with the pathetic accents of the Sacro Monte di Varallo coordinated by Gaudenzio Ferrari.

The four evangelists
Giuseppe Rollini, 1884
Fresco with dry additions
The Four Evangelists are represented on the vault, seated in a chair intent on writing the Gospels. They are recognizable thanks to their attributes: San Giovanni, with the eagle, San Luca with the ox, San Marco with the winged lion and San Matteo, with the angel. They reproduce the Evangelists painted on the vault of the sacristy of Sant’Antonio di Ranverso by Giacomo Jaquerio, around 1420. The model reproduced in the Borgo was an important reference for the whole fifteenth century of Piedmont: the same iconographic scheme is found in fact in the chapel of San Biagio in San Pietro di Pianezza, taken up by a master of Jaquerian culture, and still much further (1482) in the cycle painted by Giovanni Canavesio in the church of Pigna (Imperia). The same iconography found in Ranverso was re-proposed by Giuseppe Rollini in 1887 on the vault of the presbytery of the Cathedral of Pinerolo.

Stained glass window
Painted glass with lead ties, 206.5x82x6.5 cm
The stained glass window overlaps the faithful copies of two originals from 1503 preserved since 1867 at the Museo Civico di Torino. These depict the flight to Egypt and Jesus among the doctorsand they come from the chapel of Issogne castle; the preparatory cartoons are attributed to the Genevan Pietro Vaser. The subjects are an integral part of the iconographic program with the Stories of the Virgin and the Childhood of Christ, which unfolds on the walls and in the polyptych of the altar of the Aosta Valley chapel. The entire layout of the room is due to Giorgio di Challant, abbot of the collegiate church of Sant’Orso di Aosta and feudal lord of the castle, whose coat of arms bears the emblem. In 1884 Pietro Guglielmi was the author of the copies made for the chapel of the Rocca, as well as the painted glass of the baronial hall and the bedroom, all destroyed by the bombings of 1943.

Luigi Gasperini, 1884
Carved, painted, gilded, wood, 120x219x113 cm
The altar table reproduces that of the chapel of the castle of Issogne, a fine example of late Gothic carving from the 15th century. The front is divided into panels carved with decorative motifs in relief on the background painted red and blue. On the linen altar tablecloth rest the missal, supported by a cushion such as a music stand, and two metal candelabra.

Painted stucco
The ciborium is the canopy structure, placed on or near the altar, where the Eucharist is placed. Supported by two angels, this has an architectural form, with the wooden door framed by a double openwork arch resting on Gothic pillars. It reproduces the green stone ciborium of the marquis chapel in S. Giovanni di Saluzzo, an exceptional decorative complex from the end of the 15th century – beginning of the 16th which closes the international Gothic season in Piedmont.

Bernardo Gagliardi, 1934
Carved wood, 130x202x5.5 cm
Copy of a carved, gilded and painted wooden frontal with the Stories of Mary Magdalene from the Civic Museum of Ancient Art in Turin. The original artifact, attributed to an Aostan sculptor of the end of the thirteenth century known as Maestro di Villeneuve, was exhibited on the altar of the chapel in the fortress in 1927; when, in 1934, he returned to the Civic Museum in the new headquarters of Palazzo Madama, a copy was commissioned from the sculptor Bernardo Gagliardi. In 1884, for the exhibition period, a carved wooden triptych depicting the history of the Virgin and St. Joseph was exhibited in its place, a Flemish work of the first decades of the 16th century owned by the Pensa di Marsaglia family, now in the Civic Museum Brussels.

Bridesmaid room
It houses the room lady, friend and help of the lady in her life in the castle. The environment is small in size, well furnished and decorated. The walls are painted in lozenges with the initials of King Arduino, according to a model copied from the Strambino castle. The clothes are stored in a chest at the bottom of the bed, as in the use of itinerant courts; on a carved cupboard rest the tools for spinning the linen and hemp: the spindle, the rabbit, a spinning machine. In the light of the window and near the heat of the large fireplace, the hand basin is placed, for the daily toilet. Like the baronial chamber, the room has a private toilet: a small room overhanging the moat of the castle, with a perforated seat.

Highlights works

Carved wood, embossed and gilded leather, textured fabric, 56x97x41 cm
Front and sides are decorated with courtly life scenes in the garden: elegantly dressed men and women converse around a monumental fountain. Inside the cover it reads the sentence Laces Whom Love had nothing captivates winds. The love theme refers to a female destination of the body, perhaps nuptial: it contains the bridesmaid’s outfit and her clothes. The name Joanus Vacchetta is engraved under the lid with the date domains 1907. Giovanni Vacchetta was professor of Ornate at the Industrial Museum of Turin and director of the Civic Museum of Ancient Art from 1913 to 1920.

The fortress
It constitutes the focal point, high compared to the Borgo route. It is the fortified stately home, with sumptuous rooms full of furniture, furnishings, fabrics, to show the uses of life of the fifteenth century. The armor, the weapons, the pastimes left in the men’s room of arms, the dining room, the kitchen, offer a truly “throbbing and speaking” idea of a 15th century Savoy castle. Beyond the throne room, where the Prodi and the Heroines parade, the bedroom is striking for the large canopy with the embroidered curtains; the chapel closes the path.

The Turin Exhibition proposed to offer an artistic-architectural section, the idea of a pavilion that resumed architectural styles from different eras and regions of Italy was definitively abandoned, in favor of a project that was based on a single century (the fifteenth century) and a single cultural territory (the Aosta Valley and Piedmont).

Thus began the preliminary research for the construction of the medieval village, consisting of a village and a turreted castle. Product of invention as a whole, every architectural, decorative and furnishing element of the Borgo is reproduced with philological precision from original models of the XV century, traceable at the time in Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, detected and personally studied by the members of the Commission. The immense work of finding and reproducing the models proceeded at an accelerated pace.

on 12 December 1882 the first stone of the Rocca (the castle) was laid, on 6 June 1883 the first stone of the village was laid, on April 27, 1884 the Borgo was inaugurated in the presence of the sovereigns of Italy, Umberto and Margherita di Savoia. The fortress could be visited inside and its fully furnished rooms reproduced a stately home of the fifteenth century.

The construction of the village and the fortress is inspired by numerous castles in Piedmont and the Aosta Valley. The courtyard of the fortress is a faithful copy of the Fénis castle. The pomegranate fountain is copied from the Issogne castle and the village church from the Avigliana church. The line of defense is that of the Verrès castle. The dining room is inspired by that of the Strambino castle, the baronial anteroom and the large fresco room are like in the Manta castle, and the wedding one is modeled on the type of the Challant castle, with the mystical motto ” FERT ” standing out in the blue of the room.

Medieval village and fortress of Turin
Turin’s Borgo Medievale, or medieval village, was opened in 1884 to mark the occasion of the Italian General Exhibition. It offers a reconstruction of late medieval buildings and decorations carried out on the basis of strict philological criteria. A number of intellectuals, historians, artists and technicians took part in the project which was coordinated by the architect Alfredo D’Andrade.

The designers drew inspiration from over 40 sites and retraced the artistic and architectural features of 15th-century buildings throughout Piedmont and the Aosta Valley, some of which have now disappeared. Located in the Parco del Valentino, a large park running along the banks of the Po, the Borgo Medievale is unquestionably a popular attraction at all times of year. The village includes streets, squares, fountains, fortifications, decorations and frescoes, real houses and artisans’ workshops, where visitors can watch metal and paper being worked and buy artefacts of various kinds.

The Rocca or fortress is the highpoint of the tour through the village. It is a fortified aristocratic residence whose rooms are richly decorated with furniture, accessories and fabrics that reflect the lifestyle of the nobility in 15th-century Piedmont. A more recent addition, since 1998, are the medieval gardens featuring plants that would have been grown at the time, as well as local botanical species. The plants were identified through extensive bibliographical and iconographic research and are now cared for using organic methods.

The Borgo Medievale has become a very special visitor attraction and museum that responds to a number of requirements: research, popular history, entertainment, tourist attraction. Moreover, a range of events is offered that reflect these different visitor categories.