La Venaria Reale, Torino

Posted on April 9, 2013

On holiday in Torino we visited the “Italian Versailles”, the recently restored palace complex of the House of Savoy. In ruins for decades, this huge expanse of gardens and palaces is being restored with EU money and recently joined the UNESCO heritage list. We spent the entire day here as there was a lot to see, including several temporary exhibitions and the multi-media interpretations of many of the ornate rooms. Peter Greenaway was commissioned to animate several key spaces with famous Italian actors in the characters of the Savoy court- from cooks to counts. The marble and frescos throughout were stunning as were items such as the royal boat carefully restored and animated with a half hour spectacle explaining its origins. Roberto Capucci, an extravagant fashion designer of the first half of the last century was honoured in a huge exhibition of his gowns. Lorenzo Lotto, a key figure in the Renaissance, also had a large exhibition of paintings in one of the huge gallery wings. The gardens, whilst still rather sparse in planting, gave a sense of the grandeur of the past and the decline since.