Royal Palace of Venaria (Italian: Reggia di Venaria Reale) is a former royal residence and gardens located in Venaria Reale, near Turin in the Metropolitan City of Turin of the Piedmont region in northern Italy. With 80,000m² in palace area and over 950.000m² in premises, it is one the largest palaces in the world. It is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, included in the UNESCO Heritage List in 1997.
Restored to the baroque magnificence to which it was inspired in the mid-1600s by Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy, the Reggia di Venaria is once again a symbol of modernity and culture. Since its opening in 2007, after two centuries of neglect and decay and eight intense years of restoration, La Venaria Reale has become one of Italy’s five most visited cultural sites.
The palace of Venarìa was designed by the architect Amedeo di Castellamonte. It was commissioned by Duke Carlo Emanuele II who intended to make it the basis for hunting trips in the Turin hilly moor.
The same name in Latin as the palace, Venatio Regia, is derived from the term hunting palace. The village was joined by many houses and buildings of workers and ordinary citizens who wanted to live in the surroundings of the palace, until Venaria Reale became an autonomous municipality in the province of Turin.
The choice of the site, at the foot of the Lanzo Valleys, was favored by the proximity of the extensive woods called the Gran Paese, rich in game: a territory that stretches for a hundred kilometers to the Alpine mountains, reaching south and east near of the capital.
The monumental palace is home to some of the finest examples of universal Baroque: the Hall of Diana designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte, the Great Gallery and the Church of St. Hubert, the grandiose complex of the Juvarra Stables designed by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century, the sumptuous decorations and spectacular Fountain of the Stag in the Court of Honor are the ideal setting for the Theatre of History and Magnificence, the permanent display devoted to the House of Savoy that takes the visitor down a path that is almost 2,000 m long, from the basement level to the piano nobile of the Reggia.
Seen from above, the Reggia and the Gardens cover a surface of 950,000 square meters of unencumbered architecture and parkland. They lie at the heart of a vast estate that is made up of the Juvarra Stables (a 5,000 sq.m. exhibition centre in the Citroniera and the Great Stables); the Conservation and Restoration Center (housed in the former Alfieri Stables); the Old Town Center, the Borgo Castello and Cascina Rubbianetta (today home to the prestigious International Horse Center) set among the woods and castles that dot the 6,500 hectares of greenery in the nearby Park of La Mandria.
The Gardens appear today as a perfectly balanced combination of ancient and modern elements, in a boundless scenario where archaeological findings and contemporary artworks dialogue in harmony. A complex restoration project has led, over a period of eight years, to the reconstruction of the landscape and its historical landmarks that also took into account modern aesthetics and contemporary needs with important art works by the contemporary masters Giuseppe Penone and Giovanni Anselmo.
Probably the idea of creating a palace in Venaria was born from Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy from the example of the Castle of Mirafiori (or Miraflores), a place destined for the wife of Duke Carlo Emanuele I, Catherine Michela of Habsburg located in the neighborhood that that palace would then have taken the name Mirafiori.
Carlo Emanuele II, also wanting to create a palace that was linked to his name and that of his wife, Maria Giovanna Battista di Savoia-Nemours, bought the two small villages of Altessano Superiore and Inferiore from the family of Milanese origin Birago, who had here created important plantations. The place was later renamed “la Venaria” because it was intended for hunting fun.
The works were planned from 1658 and entrusted to the architects Amedeo di Castellamonte and Michelangelo Garove. The work continued over time until at least 1675, when the village of Venaria (made with a plan designed to draw a Collar of the Annunciation) and the Palace were already largely completed. In particular, the palace of Diana, the heart of the structure. In any case, the works did not stop and, indeed, continued over time: after the 1st of October 1693 the French destroyed some buildings, Vittorio Amedeo IIcommissioned a further intervention on the palace which was restructured according to the French canons, in an attempt to imitate the sumptuous example of the Palace of Versailles beyond the Alps.
Further damage was inflicted during the Siege of Turin in 1706, when the French of Louis d’Aubusson de la Feuillade took up residence there, damaging many structures intended, in this period, for the soldier: Vittorio Amedeo II, given the death of Garove, entrusts the project to Filippo Juvarra who builds structures such as the Stable and the church of Sant’Uberto. In 1739, three years after Juvarra’s death, Carlo Emanuele III entrusted Benedetto Alfieri with the task of expanding the Stable and building communication galleries within the complex.
Even in the Napoleonic domination the palace underwent serious transformations, in particular the gardens, destroyed to make it a parade ground: in fact, the entire complex was transformed into a barracks and, with the Restoration, this destination was maintained. The complex was also confirmed as the nerve center of the Savoy Cavalry, hosting, among other things, a European prestige military riding school (within which innovative riding, fighting, bundling methods developed) and a stud farm.. In the period from the end of the Napoleonic wars until 1978 the palace was used for military purposes causing a progressive degradation.
«The recovery of the royal palace of Venaria Reale is considered one of the largest European restoration sites as it is not just the restoration of an architectural complex, but the urban recovery of an entire territory that includes the city of Venaria, its historic center, its viability, the infrastructures, the Borgo Castello della Mandria with its park, the approximately 30 farmhouses and internal villas, the recovery of abandoned land now converted into gardens. »
(Francesco Pernice, Superintendent for Architectural Heritage and Landscape of Piedmont and technical coordinator of the restoration of Venaria Reale, 24 July 2007)
The turning point came in 1978 when the palace was sold to the Superintendence for restoration works. A vibrant and reasoned exhortation to start the necessary radical restoration of the artefact without delay came from Federico Zeri who, in a television broadcast dedicated to Venaria, showed the general public the state of intolerable degradation in which the site was pouring. In 1998 the impressive restoration work began with the release of national and European funds. The works, equal to an expenditure of over 280 million euros, concern an area of 250,000 m² of buildings and 800,000 m² of uncultivated areas transformed into gardens following the original plans. These interventions were made possible also thanks to the funds from the Lotto Game, on the basis of what is regulated by law 662/96. The opening of the complex was held on October 13, 2007.
New spaces are periodically recovered and inaugurated, such as the Citronière and the Stables open to the public in 2009. In 2011, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, the palace and gardens were the site of exhibitions and events dedicated to the excellence of the country. The palace of Venaria is managed by the Flexible Structure of the Venaria Reale Complex directed by Alberto Vanelli. Also in one wing of the palace, the Venaria Reale restoration school was inaugurated.
The buliding complex
The complex is imposing: entering from the main entrance you are welcomed in the courtyard of honor, in the center of which stood a fountain called the deer, the main facade in plaster with cornucopias, shells and fruits is on the right side as “scarred” by a caesura of exposed bricks that delimit the seventeenth-century part from the eighteenth-century one, following the intervention of the first court architect Amedeo di Castellamonte.
The left part of the complex presents the intervention of the second court architect Michelangelo Garove 1699-1713 in summary the construction of two towers with roofs called “Mansart” covered with shingles, multicolored pentagonal ceramic tiles, joined by a Grand Gallery wrongly indicated in the mid-twentieth century, like that of Diana. The painter Giacomo Casella carried out the pictorial decoration of Diana’s temple room with his brother-in-law Giovanni Andrea Casella: Britomarte delivered a temple to Diana, from the years 1660-1663.
In the interior there were stuccos, statues, paintings, (according to Castellamonte, over four thousand paintings), made by talented artists, including Vittorio Amedeo Cignaroli, Pietro Domenico Olivero and Bernardino Quadri. On the walls stand out representations of game that establish a reference to the hunting function of the structure. The stucco decorations are often due to the art of the plasterer Pietro Somazzi, in rooms transformed in a later period, or in rooms inside the palace of Diana and in the connecting rooms with the pavilion erected by Michelangelo Garove, where there is a real triumph of executive ability. In 1718 in thePietro Filippo Somazzi obtained the execution of the stuccos of the gallery, following the design of the architect Filippo Juvarra.
To illustrate the complex of the palace, there is an extremely accurate model created by Carlo Costantini.
La Venaria Reale is a large permanent cultural project that oﬀers opportunities for cultural knowledge and entertainment La Venaria Reale is a grandiose estate just outside Turin. In comprises 80,000 square meters of floor surface in the Reggia and 60 hectares of Gardens, adjacent to the 17th century ancient village of Venaria and the 3,000 fenced hectares of the Park of La Mandria. It is a natural and architectural masterpiece that was declared part of the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1997. It reopened to the public in 2007 after completing the EU’s largest cultural restoration project to date.
The monumental palace, is home to some of the ﬁnest examples of universal Baroque: the enchanting Hall of Diana designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte, the breathtaking Great Gallery and the solemn Church of St. Hubert, the grandiose complex of the Juvarra Stables designed by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century, the sumptuous decorations, the famous Bucentaur and the spectacular Fountain of the Stag in the Court of Honor.
These provide a unique setting for the Theater of History and Magniﬁcence, the permanent display — almost 2,000 m long — devoted to the House of Savoy, that spans from the basement level to the piano nobile of the Reggia.
The Castle of La Mandria
Surrounded by the lush greenery of the Park of La Mandria, the royal apartments of the Borgo Castello provide a fascinating connection between the natural environment and the Reggia. Bound to the destiny and the history of the Reggia di Venaria until the 19th century, the Castle of La Mandria became the personal retreat of Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy in 1859.
The beautiful Royal Apartments that are visible today were built in front of the Castle, which was the most significant building present in the Park.
The apartments consist of 20 rooms that offer insights into the choices and the tastes of the king. Now open to the public, they paint an intriguing portrait of this charismatic figure of the Italian Risorgimento. It was at the Castle of La Mandria that the king spent part of his personal life with his morganatic wife, Rosa Vercellana (known as “Bela Rosin”), who was made Countess of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda.
The Royal Apartments are fully furbished and contain precious objects, artworks, textiles, furniture and furnishings from ancient Savoy collections that allow visitors to appreciate the taste of the first king of Italy.
The Royal Residences of the House of Savoy
Turin is home to a number of Castles and Royal Palaces of remarkable historical and artistic value, which are part of an architectural and urban design plan intended to create an ideal frame around the city. They are known collectively as the Crown of Delights of the House of Savoy, a definition dating back to the time when they were built, between the 16th and the 17th century, indicating a group of leisure estates that doubled as centers of power and territorial control for the rulers.
The Crown of Delights consisted of around fifteen majestic palaces comprising gardens and artworks to compete for beauty and grandiosity with the most opulent European royal residences of the time. Some of them were gradually abandoned and would eventually disappeared, as was the case with the Regio Parco and the Castle of Mirafiori, but luckily most of them are still in place today and have become part of our common heritage and of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The most grandiose and famous is La Venaria Reale, a monumental complex dating back to the mid-17th century. The estate consists of an 80,000 sq.m. Palace, 60 hectares of gardens, 3,000 hectares of fenced and protected parkland (the Park of La Mandria) and the adjoining Old Town. Together they make up a single architectural and environmental continuum that offers a shiny example of European Baroque.
In addition to La Venaria, other important Royal Residences include the imposing Castle of Moncalieri on the Turin hillside, and the Stupinigi Hunting Lodge in the vicinity, another extraordinary example of artistic complexity finely decorated by the brilliant architect Filippo Juvarra. Other remarkable gems are the historical Castle of Agliè in the Canavese area, and the Castle of La Mandria, near the Reggia di Venaria, with their parks and collections, that provide illustrations of historical events at different points in time all the way to the 20th century.
Today the Royal Residences of the House of Savoy have come together as a novel, unique, unmissable “exotic destination” in Italy offering a cultural experience that is different and constantly renewed: a visit that requires at least a weekend to truly appreciate their natural and historical beauty, accompanied by the local delicacies that abound in these areas.
The Royal Apartments
The Royal Apartments are fully furbished and contain precious objects, artworks, textiles, furniture and furnishings from ancient Savoy collections that allow visitors to appreciate the taste of the first king of Italy.
The decorations and furniture were chosen by the Court Architect Domenico Ferri, who opted for figurative patterns that have been perfectly preserved in the various rooms.
The rooms that make up the Royal Apartments of the Castle are home to the rich collections commissioned by Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy and have been completely refurnished according to archival documentation.
Thanks to extraordinary funding, more than 100 art masterpieces, 1200 square meters of decorations, 60 pieces of furniture, 130 square meters of previous textiles and 80 square meters of elegant wallpaper have been completely restored.
The Reggia boasts some of the highest expressions of the universal Baroque, absolute masterpieces of architecture, art and landscape.
The Great Gallery
One of the most remarkable projects by the architect Filippo Juvarra at the Reggia di Venaria consisted in the construction of the southern wing conceived by Michelangelo Garove.
The Gallery, that connected the apartments of the King to that of the Crown Prince, is one of the most surprising and spectacular spaces of the complex. Its magnificent decorations are the work of Pietro Filippo Somasso, Giuseppe Bolina, Antonio Papa and Giovambattista Sanbartolomeo. The size of the Gallery is also remarkable: 15 meters in height at the center of the vault, 80 meters in length and 12 in width.
Under the French occupation the original flooring was moved to the Beaumont Gallery in Turin. The current floor dates from 1995 and replicates Juvarra’s design.
One of the peculiarities of the Great Gallery lies in the splendid light effects created by 44 tall windows and 22 “eyelets” (openings that are oval on the inside, but rectangular on the outside) on the ceiling. The resulting lights and shadows further enhance the rich decorations and the two elaborate exedras at the ends, never failing to inspire awe in all visitors.
The Hall of Diana
The Hall of Diana lies at the heart of the Palace by the same name, where visitors once arrived after crossing the entrance yard and the court of honor. Immediately below are seven of the original twelve huge equestrian portraits of the Dukes of Savoy and their courtiers by various painters. In the lower register are ten paintings by Jan Miel on the theme of the hunt (hunting the stag, the hare, the bear the fox, the wild boar; the death of the stag; the woods; the gathering before the hunt; the chase; the curea or curing after the kill).
In the 17th century, sumptuous receptions and balls were organized in the Hall of Diana, which lies at the crossroads of Castellamonte’s perspective view that starts from the old town center to the east and continues across the hall and 1,5 km to the west into the Gardens. It also marks the middle point of the line that runs from the start of Via Maestra in the old town center of Venaria to the end of the Central Alley in the Gardens, where the Temple of Diana once stood.
The Church of St. Hubert
Commissioned by Vittorio Amedeo II, it was constructed between 1716 and 1729. Juvarra conceived an imposing set of spaces on a Greek-cross plan, with two large altars at the ends of the transept and four chapels along the diagonal lines that are round inside, but polygonal on the outside.
After Michelangelo Garove’s death in 1713 followed in 1716 the reconstruction by Filippo Juvarra of the Gran Galleria and in parallel the construction of the church of Sant’Uberto (1716 – 1729), set among the buildings so as not to allow the construction of the dome, which was frescoed as a trompe-l’œil inside, the stables and the cement mixer (1722-1728), as well as a French-style rearrangement of the facades.
The last works were carried out between the second half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century (stables and riding stables, Diana’s palace staircase, Sant’Uberto gallery) after which the palace was almost forgotten in favor of the Stupinigi hunting lodge (1729), more in line with the new tastes of the European courts.
The rich decorations, together with a careful use of lights and shadows, create a truly extraordinary effect. The undisputed protagonist of the Church is the High Altar by Giovanni Baratta. It appears to be suspended, almost bathed in the light that shines in from the tabernacle supported by marble angels. The altar extends in height between the two central columns in the recess created by the apse.
The light pouring in from the vast glass windows behind further enhances the colors and the tones of the altar. Baratta also authored the four statutes of the Doctors of the Church that are found in the central niches: Saint Augustin, Saint Ambrose, Saint Anastasius and Saint John Chrysostom. The side altars are characterized by four large altarpieces by famous painters of the Roman school.
The architectural passages from the Church to the Reggia were not finished by Juvarra, but were completed by Benedetto Alfieri under Carlo Emanuele III. Alfieri also designed the monumental staircase leading up to the tribune of the Church.
The gardens of the palace have completely disappeared since Napoleon’s French turned them into a parade ground: an extremely significant work of the complex was lost forever. The period drawings remained, showing the splendid Italian garden divided into three terraces connected with spectacular stairways and architectures (such as the clock tower of the first courtyard) that connect them: the fountain of Hercules, the hemicycle theater and parterre.
Only recently Venaria Reale has seen its natural setting reborn, thanks to the works that are affecting the structure (stables, Diana’s palace, etc.). The sectors that have already been completed have been made available to the public, moreover partly damaged by the violent storm of June 2007. In the Basso Park some works by Giuseppe Penone are visible, in stark contrast to the baroque structure of the complex: among them, the trunk of a cedar, twelve meters high, from which the fumes of the thermal power plants of the building come out.
In 2019 the Venaria gardens were awarded the 17th edition of the Most Beautiful Park in Italy competition (“public parks” category).
The King’s Paintings
In three elegant rooms of the 17th century Apartment of Princess Ludovica, next to the Hall of Diana, a display presents prestigious 16th and 17th century artworks on loan from the Galleria Sabauda of the Polo Reale of Turin.
27 precious paintings by celebrated artists (from Guido Reni to Guercino, from Rubens to van Dyck, Brueghel the Elder and Brueghel the Younger) make up an elegant display that is a tribute to the superb “picture gallery” of the Reggia, the art collection of the sovereigns of Savoy.
The Fine Arts.
From the permanent collection and deposits of the Picture Gallery of Turin’s Accademia Albertina, the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts.
The display provides a new and evocative setting for canvases and sculptures that illustrate four centuries of “artistic knowledge” (from the 16th to the 20th century) and also serves to underscore the importance of the learning process to acquire a variety of artistic skills through direct contact with masterpieces of the past.
The Atelier of The Arts, the new space on the upper floors of the Palace of Diana devoted to this exhibition, also boasts a very special guest star: the great master Paolo Veronese with two extraordinary paintings recently attributed to him that reflect the display’s key themes, namely Allegory with an armillary sphere, and Allegory of Sculpture.
The permanent display of the Reggia, titled Theater of History and Magnificence, is a journey through the history and the art of the House of Savoy that takes visitors on a 2,000-meter walk from the ground floor to the piano nobile of the Royal Palace. The visit begins in the imposing 17th century Hall of Diana and continues through the elegant Great Gallery to a music soundtrack composed by Brian Eno, the solemn Church of St. Hubert, the 18th century architectural masterpieces by Filippo Juvarra and their sumptuous stucco decorations, and Peopling the Palaces – a series of evocative multimedia installations by Peter Greenaway on court life.
In the destiny of Venaria there is a time for splendor and prosperity and a time for neglect, decline and the scattering of all its furnishings. The identity of this place is characterized first by a process of amassing, followed by subtraction. Over the past decade the restoration project retraced and recreated the ancient layout of the Gardens and revived the imposing spaces and the grand architecture of the Palace, while the artistic collection and the furnishings remain inexorably scant, denied by the events of history. The ancient paths to infinity and the unearthed ruins of the Gardens were reinstated with new plants and enriched by contemporary artworks: the extraordinary views of the Reggia and what remains of its original decorations were redesigned as a Theater of Magnificence to narrate ancient and modern tales and to experience the glorious past.
The display is a presentation of the dynasty that conceived and expanded the Reggia. Historical figures and members of the Court – created by the artistic genius of Peter Greenaway – will accompany the visitor also on the Piano Nobile, across the faithfully recreated 17th century rooms of the original hunting estate and the Palace of Kings, all the way to the ceremonial route of the18th century. In this way the visitors will be able to truly experience this ancient and extraordinary Palace as their own, in the best possible sense.
The Theater of History and Magnificence is organized in two sections:
Theater of History
The basement level, characterized by the fascinating spaces that once housed the court’s kitchen, storage and service rooms, illustrates significant historical facts, themes and events concerning the House of Savoy, from its mythological origins in the year 1000 to the early 19th century, when the main branch of the family went extinct. The last rooms before climbing up to the Piano Nobile present the transformation that the Reggia underwent over time starting with Castellamonte’s project, with a particularly intriguing “story of unfinished ideas”, that illustrates the plans by Garove, Juvarra and Alfieri that never came into being.
Theater of Magnificence
The display continues with a grand Promenade à la cour through the apartments of the Duke and the Duchess of Savoy, the apartments of the King and the Queen, the Great Gallery, the Alfieri Rotunda and the Church of St. Hubert. This was the “ceremonial route” that characterized the 18th century Palace and that today’s visitors are invited to discover, gaining access to the vast spaces of the Reggia and admiring its unique architecture.
More than 500 artworks including paintings, sculptures, tapestry, furniture, chandeliers, carpets, banners, silverware, snuffboxes, clocks and musical instruments – some of them true masterpieces – hint at the original furnishings and recreate the ancient court atmosphere and the style of the 17th and 18th centuries. Juvarra’s Great Stables with the Bucentaur mark the end of the permanent display of the Reggia.
Restored architectural details, unexpected and breathtaking views, vast spaces, tapestries and historical references: once again, the visitors are invited to step into the magical atmosphere of life at Court for an extraordinary journey through the culture and leisure pursuits of today.
Temporary exhibitions at the Reggia di Venaria are organized in two spaces: the Juvarra Stables and the Rooms of the Arts.
The Juvarra Stables
The 18th century building that is home to the Citroniera (orangery) and the Great Stables is a stunning construction of impressive size and architectural design: it is here that major international exhibitions are held. Built in 1722-27 by Filippo Juvarra, the Citroniera – that was originally used to store citrus plants – and the Great Stables make up an imposing building that covers a 5,000 sq. m. area, each measuring 140 meters in length, almost 15 m in width and height. This is the largest exhibition space in the Reggia di Venaria.
The original budget for its construction was largely exceeded, and the building contractors complained about it while sparing no praise for this architectural feat: “They had us build an edifice of extraordinary height (…) more closely resembling a magnificent temple than a stable and an orangery”. The latter, originally conceived as a storage facility for ornamental citrus plants in the winter, provides a magnificent backdrop to the Flower Garden and its main entrance is aligned with one of the longest alleys: the Royal Alley. On the inside the Citroniera appears like a huge greenhouse with large windows opening to the south to maximize sun exposure.
Coming in from the Gardens or the Bookshop, visitors step into the Citroniera and find themselves into a richly decorated and exceptionally bright central nave. This space was designed to inspire awe by virtue of its considerable proportions as well as its plastic and chiaroscuro effects: the niches that punctuate the side walls add a great dynamic flow to the outer shell of this building. To the south the arc-shaped openings are topped by oculi or round recesses to maximize light and heat in the winter, to the north the same architectural structures are replicated on the partition wall that separates this space from the adjoining Stables in a trompe-l’oeil effect.
Juvarra had originally designed a rich set of stucco decorations for pilaster strips, recesses and openings like those in the Great Gallery: however they were only partially completed and disappeared in the 19th century.
The Great Stables
The Great Stables once sheltered up to 160 horses: detailed drawings by ancient master carpenters still document the wooden boxes, now lost. The stunning dimensions of this space – much greater than the stables found in other royal residences across Piedmont and comparable only to the construction built by Jean Auber in 1719 in Chantilly for the Great Condé – are testament to the key role that horses played in the sumptuous choreography of the royal hunts and to the ambitions of the commissioning patrons.
The Rooms of the Arts
The rooms on the upper floor of the Reggia had never been open to the public and were by far the most seriously damaged: floors and plasterwork were missing, rainwater dripped in from the cracks in the ceiling and the comprehensive tests that were carried out indicated that subsequent interventions had almost entirely obliterated the historical features of these rooms.
The Monumental Staircase by Piacenza
In 1788, on the occasion of the wedding of Vittorio Emanuele, Duke of Aosta, to Marie Therese of Hapsburg-Este, it was decided to build a new apartment on the first floor of the Palace. It was therefore necessary to build a connecting staircase as well. Designed by the Court Architect Giuseppe Battista Piacenza (1735-1818), the staircase disappears into the facade, adapting to an earlier plan by Michelangelo Garove.
This addition, that proved extremely challenging from a structural point of view, also unveiled traces of the mouldings of the cornice on the pre-existing historical facade above the collapsed ceiling of the staircase. A painstaking artistic restoration successfully reinstated the delicate 18th century hues of the marmorino stuccos and plasterwork.
The new staircase
The construction of the new staircase connecting the western Gardens to the new Rooms of the Arts on the Upper Floors and the latter to the ground floor exhibition rooms, is part of a long and complex project to recover the Reggia’s historical and architectural splendour. The staircase unwinds like a steel ribbon and runs along the fracture in the façade of the Palace of Diana facing out towards the Court of Honour, that marks the juncture between the 17th and 18th century portions of the building. Its 120 steps, the landings and the openings are covered in wood coming from original beams recovered from the Reggia and the Castle of Aglié.
The complex and integrated nature of the Reggia does not allow for individual restoration projects: the restoration of the Upper Floors required the renovation of the monumental staircase built in the late 18th century by the architect Piacenza to connect the Court of Honour with the Apartments of the Dukes of Aosta, while the restoration of the rooms on the first floor reveals today an extraordinary and unexpected view of the Gardens.
The Center for Conservation and Restoration
In the area of the former stables, on an area of about 8000 square meters, there is one of the main Italian restoration centers, consisting of a series of laboratories dedicated to diagnostics, restoration and conservation of works of art.
The restoration works
The nuptial apartment of Vittorio Emanuele, Duke of Aosta, and Marie Therese of Austria-Este was originally built in 1788-89 by the Court Architects Giuseppe Battista Piacenza and Carlo Randoni and followed the neoclassical taste of the time. Renowned wood sculptors – Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, Francesco Bolgiè, Biagio Ferrero, Giuseppe Gianotti – also participated in the project. No trace remains today of the original rooms, except for most of the project drawings. Part of the original decorations are found today in other Savoy Residences, while a commode is conserved at the Stupinigi Hunting Lodge.
The restoration works that were recently completed adopted modern technologies to maintain the architectural unity of the apartment and placed emphasis to the remaining original decorations and architectural elements. The restoration works brought to light late 19th-century decorations made by the military that bear witness to the use of the this area as a barracks, and possibly as a meeting room. The decorations mainly consist of military victories, shields, lances and helmets. In partcular a Savoy coat of arms stands out for its flower decorations that are similar to the ones that were discovered in the main court of the Fountain of Neptune in the Borgo Castello of La Mandria. Drawings were discovered in another room depicting dragons against a chequered background pattern.