Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Savoy Castles (Casa Savoia)

Castello Racconigi
Castello Racconigi

The House of Savoy (Casa Savoia) grew from a small noble, family in the 11th century, with land holdings west and north of Torino (Savoy region), to rule the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until the end of World War II. The dynasty relocated its residence in the late 15th century to Torino where it remained until the unification of Italy. It is around Torino that the Savoy refurbished old castelli and constructed new ones, described as “delizie e capricci”.

In 2002 on a previous trip, we were in Torino and were able to visit the Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Madama. During this trip we saw three more Savoy residences, two intimately and one from outside. The first we saw on this trip was Castello Racconigi. While we were staying in Mondovì, we took a trip to see Racconigi. We were the only ones on the last tour of the day. Unfortunately the gardens were closed which would have been wonderful to see. (The downside of off-season travel.) Inside there was a lot to see, historical features of the castle mixed with contemporary installations. A very nice guide, Nanni, answered all our questions as he showed us around and listened to our bad Italian!

As we made our way from Mondovì to Pontboset in the Valle d’Aosta, we stopped at the Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi but it was closed for restoration. So, we saw it only from the outside. Luckily, we just had to go a few more minutes north to reach the Castello di Rivoli. Rivoli is fun because of the outstanding contemporary art museum that is located inside the old residence, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea del Castello di Rivoli, and the strange unfinished bits of the structures that make up the complex. Castello di Rivoli is a great place to spend a half a day or more.

We must also mention the Savoy residence, Castello di Govone, not because we visited it, but we drank an interesting 1971 Nebbiolo d’Alba, Castello di Govone recently that was given to us by relatives in Piemonte. It was delicious and as we made handy work of the bottle (back in Seattle) we were wishing we were back in Piemonte!

Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi - In Restoration

Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi - Details

Castello Rivoli - View Into Twilight

Castello Rivoli - Castle Structure

Castello Racconigi - Art Installation, Antlers
Installation in Castello Racconigi

Castello Govone Nebbiolo Wine
Wine - Castello Govone Nebbiolo


  1. Those Savoys sure got around. There's a bunch of castles here in CH that were owned by them at one time or another (Chillon for one. possibly Aigle). i'm so bad with remembering names, history and stuff that i can't remember which ones...

  2. you need to change to WP. Blogger has the worst capcha. i had to hit it 3x to post the comment.

    it's very simple to change to WP... you want me to help?

  3. I should make a plan to migrate. Thanks for the offer WD.


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