Audio File length: 2.36
English Language: English

Today I'll accompany you through the Palace of Venaria Reale: a fairy-tale palace just outside Turin.

Did you know that some of the castles and palaces in Turin's surroundings have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list? One of these is the Palace of Venaria Reale, which after a long decline has been wonderfully restored and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors today. A spectacular Baroque residence and home to major art exhibitions, today it offers you a pleasant break just outside the city center. As I said, the city of Turin is surrounded by many castles and palaces: this "Crown of Delights" is connected to the history of the Savoys and the emergence of Turin as a European capital. The Piedmontese territory was in fact part of the Duchy of Savoy beginning in the 1400s.

But you should know that this autonomous state was contested by various powers, and so in the mid 1500s the commander Emanuele Filiberto I realized that the only chance for the Duchy's survival was the political, military, and economic unification of the many feuds that were distributed over the plains of Piedmont and mountain crossings between Italy and France. So he moved its capital to the Piedmont side of the Alps, from Chambéry to Turin, and to maintain centralized power throughout the area, he organized a series of palaces in the green belt around Turin. Some of them were built from nothing, but he also repaired the old castles, some of which dated back to the Middle Ages and even to Roman times. This network of residences naturally wanted to stress the importance of the new capital from a political and administrative point of view, but also a cultural one.

Emanuele Filiberto also had all the roads fixed up, and while he was at it also the hunting routes, since hunting was a favorite pastime of the House of Savoy. Venaria was just one of the hunting starting points for the King and Court, and indeed many of its stuccoes, statues, and paintings are about the theme of hunting and game.


FUN FACT: to give you an idea of how determined Emanuele Filiberto was, all I have to tell you is that that he was nicknamed "Testa'd Fer", which in Piedmontese means... head of iron!


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