The Reggia of Venaria Reale. In the past one of many summer residences of the Royal House of Savoy, a place dedicated to pleasure, hunting and a court life. Today it’s a huge complex consisting of a monumental palace, well maintained French formal gardens and the La Mandria park that covers 6 000 hectares of land and with 30 km of wall; it is the biggest Europe fenced park.
The Reggia dazzles with splendor and glamour. It’s a perfect example of Baroque style, rich with decorations like frescoes, stuccos and extraordinary details. The complex attracts with open spaces and with numerous exhibitions. You can spend your time walking around garden beds or relaxing in one of the cafes and bars. The residence is situated on the border of the borgo Venaria Reale, only 10 km from Turin city centre and 15 km from Turin airport (Torino Caselle).
I decided to visit the Reggia of Venaria Reale at the beginning of autumn, taking advantage of the beautiful weather, wonderful colours of nature and shining crystals of fountain water. Ones I took the exit from the Turin bypass, I needed only a few minutes to reach the small town. In borgo I found a lot of restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. The main street - via Andrea Mensa - guided me to the entrance of the enormous complex, the caprice of Savoy dukes that supposed to challenge the famous Versailles.
This monumental palace (118 000 m²) was designed and built from 1658 and thanks to great architects, like Filippo Juvarra hired by the king Vittorio Amadeo II, it became one of the finest examples of universal Baroque. Unfortunately, turbulent times in the history of Piedmont didn’t save the Reggia. Its slow decay started under the Napoleon government when it was used as a casern and the gardens were transformed into a shunting yard. With time French uniforms gave space to troops involved in Italian unification wars (Risorgimento) and during the first and the second world war it was a quarter for Italian soldiers. After that the residence was abanonded and it was given over as prey for thieves. Its fate changed in 1999 when the renovation of the Reggia, gardens, old borgo and the La Mandria park started. The project "Il Progetto La Venaria Reale" – the biggest in European conservation work – was finished in 2007. After the inauguration it became one of the most visited places in Italy.
The complex offers different attractions, especially in the months of spring and summer. From mid April til mid October during weekends you can take a gondola tour along La Peschiera (the Great Pond) to admire the northern part of the palace. To take a break you can choose between cafes inside the building and coffee shops situated in the gardens, to taste great cuisine you should try the restaurant Dolce Stil Novo (awarded one Michelin star). The La Mandria Park - its buildings (the Castle of la Mandria, Villa dei Laghi, charming little houses) and wild animals (wolves, wild boars, squirrels) - you can easily visit by a little train Interoparco that offers a 90 minute tour.
During my trip to Venaria Reale I mainly focused on two exhibitions: the Sublime Boat (La Barca Sublime) and Royal Carriages (Carrozze Regali), then I visited the palace and the royal gardens. In total it took me four hours. Now I can’t wait for the spring to come back there and to taste the pleasure of a gondola tour and to visit the La Mandria park.
More about the complex and exhibitions you will find on: LAVENARIA.it
I’m Polish blogger and freelance journalist tasting “la dolce vita” by traveling around Piedmont. As Italia is my passion since the childhood I’m happy having the chance to discover the kingdom of great cuisine and probably the best wines in the world, but also charming little towns and interesting history. My blog Bel Piemonte (available also in Polish and in Italian) was born to show the beauty of this region and to encourage others to discover this part of the Apennine Peninsula.Website: www.belpiemonte.com/en/