What to see in Venaria Reale

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Author Alessandro 22 September 2022
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Chi a ved Turin e nen la Venerìa, a ved la mare e nen la fija.
Who sees Turin and doesn’t see Venaria sees the mother and not the daughter

So goes an ancient Piedmontese saying. But what to see in Venaria Reale?

At the gates of the city of Turin, stands one of the greatest representations of the eighteenth-century landscape and of Baroque architecture: it is Venaria Reale, with its Reggia and its historic centre.

An Italian Versailles - born a few years before its French contemporary - which has nothing to envy to the iconic Parisian residence.

Founded in Roman times with the name of Altessano, it was divided into Altessano Superiore and Altessano Inferiore in the 16th century.

In Altessano Superiore, between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Palace of Venaria was built as a pleasure and hunting residence (ars venatoria) for the Savoia.

Precisely from the hunting function of the royal hunting residence, the name of Altessano Superiore became Veneria and then Venaria: the only Piedmontese municipality besides Turin to boast more than one Savoyard residence in the area, together at the Royal Palace, Borgo Castello.

Among the planners of the Reggia there is Filippo Juvarra, one of the greatest architects of the Baroque.

In 1997 it was declared a Unesco heritage site.

In 2014, the Venaria museum complex was, among the state-managed museums, the seventh most visited in Italy, ranking 1st by foreign tourists and 1st place as an Italian cultural centre.

The complex, together with the Mandria regional park and the Ancient village of Venaria, gives the place, especially in the evening lights, a regal charm and an aspect of other times.

Venaria Reale: the map (TO)

In our map of Venaria Reale we indicated the historical points of interest in brown, the natural ones in green and the cycle-pedestrian path in fuchsia.

We have also reported the parking lots where as of today June 2023 parking by camper or van seems to be tolerated.

Finally we have marked the points where it is possible to obtain water.

All of this information, as well as whether parking is tolerated, may change in the future.

Palace of Venaria: from the Baroque to the Belle Epoque

What to see in Venaria Reale
What to see in Venaria Reale

Piedmont is dotted with palaces and palaces, caskets of elegance and splendour, guardians of a royal era that marked a long period of this country. Royal Palace, Valentino Castle, Stupingi Hunting Lodge, Racconigi Castle, Rivoli Castle and **Palace of Venaria ** are just some of the best known houses.

At the center of the Royal Residences of Piedmont circuit, the Palace of Venaria Reale, built from 1658 to 1679, is one of the most fascinating places in Piedmont, among the most sumptuous European royal residences and the highest expressions of the universal baroque.

Designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte on commission from Duke Carlo Emanuele II, who intended to make it a base for hunting trips, with a grandiose scenographic impact, it included the palace, the park, the hunting woods and the entire surrounding village.

The composition is crossed by a perspective line that runs through the village and continues inside the palace.

The idea of ​​creating a Reggia probably arose from the example of the Mirafiori Castle, intended for Catherine Michela of Habsburg, wife of Duke Carlo Emanuele I.

Starting in 1699, the architect Michelangelo Garove took over the projects and redesigned the gardens in the French style, according to the taste of the time.

Subsequently, with the contribution of Juvarra, the Galleria Grande, the Chapel of Sant’Uberto, the Citroniera and the Scuderia were built and the Reggia became the maximum expression of the Baroque. Benedetto Alfieri then gave unity to the complex and built the stables and riding school, still in use today.

During the siege of 1706 the French of Louis d’Aubusson de la Feuillade damaged various parts of it.

With the arrival of Napoleon and the fall of the Old Regime, the deterioration of the Palace of Venaria worsened: it was converted into barracks and its gardens destroyed to make way for a place of arms.

When Napoleon’s army leaves the Palace, the residence is looted, losing much of its splendour.

The devastation and neglect lasted until 1978. Between 1998 and 1999 the recovery project of the entire complex, of the Borgo Antico, of the gardens and of the park began: it was the largest restoration work of an asset culture ever made in Europe.

With the reopening to the public in 2007 ** the Palace of Venaria ** has returned to shine.

Palace of Venaria Reale
Palace of Venaria Reale

The exteriors with walls in red brick and white marble immerse themselves in magnificent French gardens.

But the real treasure is inside: stuccos, paintings and tapestries. What is striking is the emptiness, almost complete lack of decor. The suggestion obtained thanks to a skilful play of light and shadow on huge rooms with very high ceilings in which the echo of one’s footsteps resonates.

You can get lost in the beautiful gardens, surrounded by woods and framed by the Alps.

Opening time

Orari di Visita
Orari di Visita

Below are the current times for visits to the *Palace of Venaria**.

Attention! Hours and prices may change. You can see the updated ones on the Palace of Venaria website.

Palace of Venaria opening time

Tuesday - Friday 9:00 – 17:00 Saturday, Sunday and holidays 9:00 - 18:30 Ticket offices and entrances close 1 hour before

Castle of the Mandria opening time

Tuesday - Friday 10:00 – 16:00 Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:00 – 16:30 Ticket offices and entrances close 30 minutes before.

Opening time of the Gardens of the Palace of Venaria

Tuesday, Sunday and holidays 9:00 - 16:00. Ticket offices and entrances close after 1 hour.

Venaria Gardens visit price

5 euros. 2 euros from 6 to 18 years old and for university students under 26. 4 euros for groups of 12 to 29 people. Free for children under 6 years old.

Reggia + Gardens + exhibitions price

20 euros. 8 euros from 6 to 18 years old and for university students under 26. 16 euros for groups of 12 to 29 people. Free for children under 6 years old.

Royal Palace + Gardens + Castello della Mandria visit price

20 euros. 8 euro from 6 to 18 years old and for university students under 26. 16 for groups of 12 to 29 people. Free for children under 6 and holders of the Torino Piemonte Card.

Reggia + Scuderia Juvarriana visit price

14 euros. 5 euro from 6 to 18 years old and for university students under 26. 10 euro for groups of 12 to 29 people. Free for children under 6 years old.

Castello della Mandria visit price

8 euros. 3 euro from 6 to 18 years old and for university students under 26. 6 euro for groups of 12 to 29 people. Free for children under 6 years old.


Guided tour and app

To find out the history of the Palace of Venaria in detail, you can opt for a Guided Tour in Italian, Spanish, English, French or German.

Alternatively here it is possible to download the free application of the Reggia which allows an interactive guided tour.

What to see in the Palace of Venaria

Below is a list with a brief description of the most precious treasures that are part of the Palace and that you absolutely cannot miss.

The Court of Honor

The classic visit to the Savoy residence, with its eighty thousand square meters of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century monumentality, begins with the Court of Honor of the Palace of Venaria and the wonderful Teatro dell’Acqua.

Where the now lost Fountain of the deer once stood, there is now a fountain in an ellipse of 120 meters, theatre of water shows with lights and classical music. With its 100 water nozzles and colored jets up to 12 meters high, it is among the most impressive fountains in the world.

The Water Theater show is held twice a day, at 12 and 7pm.

The rooms of the Pages and the Arts

Numerous art exhibitions are held in the The Pages and the Arts halls of the Palace of Venaria.

The premises have been reconstructed faithfully evoking the life atmosphere of the Corte dei Savoia. On the first floor you have access to the Royal Apartments, the Sala di Diana, the Galleria Grande, the Rondò Alfieriano and the Cappella di Sant’Umberto.

On the main floor we find the Grand Gallery of the Palace of Venaria, erroneously known as Galleria di Diana, which with Juvarra and Alfieri reached the peak of its splendour.

Theater of light thanks to the large arched windows surmounted by oval openings, which allow the sun’s rays to fill the gallery creating a sparkling environment. A room of extraordinary beauty that overlooks the flower garden, guaranteeing an incomparable view.

Crossing the Galleria Grande you enter a timeless space.

Diana’s Room

If in the Sala di Diana della Palace of Venaria, the seventeenth-century ballroom, we raise our gaze towards the splendid vault, we can admire the frescoes by Jan Miel staging the Olympus of Diana and Jupiter.

The chapel of Sant’Uberto

Sant'Uberto chapel
Sant'Uberto chapel

From the genius of Juvarra also the church of the Palace of Venaria, the Sant’Uberto Chapel which surprises for its monumental elegance.

Completed in 1729, at the behest of Vittorio Amedeo II, as recalled by the initials VA carved on the marble of the upper interiors of the access portals.

The real protagonist is the High Altar, in marble and Baroque style, the work of Giovanni Baratta, suspended, almost framed by the beam of light that forms the background to the tabernacle supported by marble angels between the two central columns of the basin made from the apse.

Also to Baratta, with the help of his nephew Giovanni Antonio Cybei, we owe the 4 statues of the Doctors of the Church, placed in the niches of the central pillars: Sant’Agostino, Sant’Ambrogio, Sant’Atanasio and St. John Chrysostom.

The connections of the Chapel with the Reggia, left unfinished by Juvarra, were completed under Carlo Emanuele III by Benedetto Alfieri, to whom we also owe the scenic monumental staircase that rises to the main floor, where there are the stands of the Chapel, balconies onto which the members of the royal family looked out to assist in the liturgical celebrations.

The church is nestled between the palaces. This did not allow the construction of the dome in the central area, whose presence was simulated with trompe l’oeil frescoes.

Princess Ludovica’s apartment

The Princess Ludovica apartment hosts a permanent exhibition of seventeenth-century canvases by great authors, including Guercino, Guido Reni and Rubens.

In the underground rooms, exhibitions are set up that reconstruct the history of the Savoy dynasty, at the Regia Scuderia.

The Regia Scuderia (Scuderia Juvarriana) and Filippo Juvarra’s Citroniera

In the area of ​​the Former stables of the Palace of Venaria, on an area of ​​approximately 8000 square meters, the largest exhibition space in the entire Reggia, is shown the Bucintoro or Barca Sublime, with rich golden decorations. It is the only eighteenth-century Venetian vessel left in the world, used for lavish parades, river parties and three royal weddings.

Commissioned by Vittorio Amedeo II in 1729 on the model of the transport ark of the Doges of Venice, after 31 days of navigation on the Po, on 2 September 1731 it reached Turin in all its splendour.

The carriages used in the 19th century by the Savoy family are also kept in the Juvarrian stables. Among these the golden gala sedan, commissioned by Vittorio Emanuele II, the silver sedan of Queen Margherita and some carriages of Umberto I and Vittorio Emanuele III. Napoleon’s carriage is also temporarily exhibited.

Palace of Venaria Gardens

What to see in Venaria Reale
What to see in Venaria Reale

The Gardens of the Palace of Venaria are surrounded by the woods of the Parco della Mandria and framed by the mountain range of the Alps, in an incomparable vision of infinity that has no similar comparison in Italy. both for the magnificence of the perspectives and for the vastness of the natural panorama.

The alley of Hercules, a long water canal that can be navigated on a Venetian gondola from 1731, divides the Gardens into Parco Alto and Parco Basso.

The Temple of Diana

In the middle of a lake, on top of a stone rock, inside which two crossed canals allowed the passage of boats, stood a circular-plan temple embellished with marble, columns, sculptures and wall decorations in shells and mother-of-pearl and covered by a dome.

It was the Temple of Diana, the destination of the seventeenth-century walk along the Central Alley.

Inside, a stream of water gushed from a fountain with statues of Diana and eight nymphs which, crossing the mouths of various monsters, broke between the tips of the rock from which it descended via stairs, creating amazing optical and sound effects.

The Temple was eliminated due to the transformation of tastes, which were oriented towards the * search for an infinite perspective *. However, the ancient foundations were brought to light with archaeological excavations and today there is a circular reservoir where the water surrounds the walls of the ancient base.

Monumental complex of the Fountain of Hercules

What to see in Venaria Reale
What to see in Venaria Reale

The monumental structure of the Fountain of Hercules, built between 1669 and 1672 to a design by Amedeo di Castellamonte, connected the upper garden with the Alley at the lower level.

Walls divided into niches and caves, with marble sculptures, mosaics of shells, corals, crystals and tuff, surrounded a large basin where water fell from various sources, with many games and sound effects.

In the center dominated the statue of the Colossus Hercules by Bernardo Falconi, more than 3 meters tall, in the act of killing the mythical monster of the Hydra of Lerna, squeezed between his ankles. From the heads of the Hydra gushed the jets of water among other sculptures representing the labors of Hercules and mythical figures.

The demolition of the fountain is carried out in several phases starting from 1729. In 1740 the methodical dismantling of the sculptures begins. In 1751, having recovered all the materials useful for the expansion of the palace designed by Alfieri, the total demolition of the surviving walls and the burial of the entire structure was sanctioned.

Few were the surviving testimonies. The gooseneck staircase was only visible in the western part, where only a few uneven steps had survived. In the same situation some remains of decoration in natural stone material. The original terracotta flooring was mostly missing and uneven.

Archaeological excavations carried out between 2003 and 2005 brought to light the nymphaeum. While on the one hand this discovery is undoubtedly remarkable, on the other, the structures and materials of the fountain passed from a situation of relative stability thanks to the conservation function performed by the earth, to a state of complete exposure to atmospheric agents and the sun.

The vicissitudes of the statue of Hercules

Today, after long and complex vicissitudes, the statue of the Hercules Colossus dominates the center of the Fountain again, restored thanks to the precious intervention of the Council for the Valorisation of Artistic and Cultural Heritage of Turin,

The statue, still in Venaria in 1776, in hospitalization rooms, was, during the so-called “diaspora” of the marble assets of the Reggia, destined for the villa on the Turin hill of the Melina di Capriglio counts, to then be transferred to Palazzo Madama in the early sixties.

The restoration, between criticism and controversy

Deprived of its original bronze attributes, including the famous club, the statue is now raised on a hi-tech pedestal. The jets come out of the pedestal, distorting the original meaning of the work.

Consequently, there have been many criticisms and controversies against the restoration.

Historic Center of Venaria

Via Mensa in Venaria Reale
Via Mensa in Venaria Reale

Designed in the 1600s by Amedeo di Castellamonte, as a scenography that, right from the plan, prepared the entrance to the Palace of Venaria, ideally joining it with the manufacturing village, full of artisan shops, the *historic center of Venaria ** designed by Castellamonte, it represents a unicum between *Borgo and Reggia con Giardini, located along an axis of about two kilometres.

The plan of the village had to develop by drawing a Collar of the Annunziata, the highest honor of the House of Savoy, with the Piazza dell’Annunziata placed in correspondence with the medallion.

Here the via Maestra di venaria, today via Andrea Mensa, leads to the Savoyard residence through ancient shops.

Via Mensa in Venaria Reale
Via Mensa in Venaria Reale

A walk not to be missed: a step back in time among well-kept streets and cafes.

Piazza dell’Annunziata

Piazza dell’Annunziata
Piazza dell’Annunziata

Piazza dell’Annunziata di Venaria, whose particular shape follows the central medallion of the Collare dell’Annunziata, is an elegant example of Baroque architecture.

On the northern side there is the Parish church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary which, according to the original project, was to be set against a second symmetrical church on the opposite side of the square. The church was built starting from 1664 and restructured by Benedetto Alfieri around the middle of the 18th century.

Piazza dell’Annunziata
Piazza dell’Annunziata

The idea of ​​the twin churches was maintained through the construction of the civil hospital (now abandoned) which overlooks the square through a facade symmetrical to that of the parish church.

Piazza dell'Annunziata Civil Hospital
Piazza dell'Annunziata Civil Hospital

SNIA Village

SNIA Village
SNIA Village

Throughout the 20th century, Venaria’s economy was mainly based on industrial activities, above all engineering and plastics chemistry.

In July 1917 Riccardo Gualino, known in Piedmontese financial circles, founded in Turin, together with Giovanni Agnelli, the Società di Navigazione Italo-Americana (SNIA), whose main purpose was the transport of fuel from the United States to Italy.

In 1919 the company changed its name to Società di Navigazione Industria e Commercio, in relation to the new interest in the production and trade of synthetic textile fibres which, together with the “traditional” branch in which the company continues to operate, constitutes a new and important activity.

The massive immigration mainly due to the SNIA production plant transformed the city economy from rural to industrial in a short time. But the migratory phenomenon also generates serious problems: the social organization is not able to offer the essential services, first of all that of the house. To cope with this, in the 1920s, a large number of social housing for workers was built.

First, at the beginning of the 20th century, along the axis of the current viale Buridani and corso Giacomo Matteotti, the village of workers’ houses was born with rectangular-plan buildings on three and four floors: the so-called * *Snia houses in Venaria Reale, today - as the most famous Leuman Village in Collegno - **museum village and important find of industrial and contemporary archeology.

The SNIA residential complexes (the one in Venaria like the others located near the other plants) housed all the employees in hierarchical order.

The authorities lived in the first building, the shops and supervisors lived in the second, the foremen, department heads and drivers lived in the third, and the workers and their families lived in the remaining buildings.

The houses were built in total isolation. The choice was not accidental: the construction of the village in the extreme periphery reiterates the concept of separation, extraneousness and division of the factory and its workers from the rest of the proletariat and the city’s industries.

SNIA Village
SNIA Village

A separation that aims to lead to the creation of an aristocratic workforce which, far from the city, from other productive settlements and, above all, from other workers’ settlements, does not risk being infected, guaranteeing Snia “a work in full harmony with the intentions fervent and disciplined”.

SNIA Village
SNIA Village

Park of the herd

The other great attraction of Venaria Reale is the Mandria Natural Park, a fenced area of ​​about 3000 hectares which borders Turin and Venaria Reale to the north-west.

The park of the Mandria preserves one of the last strips of lowland forest still existing, protects various species of animals in the wild including deer, roe deer, fallow deer, wild boars and foxes, badgers, hares, squirrels, otters, owls, owls, tawny owls - for which sighting points are set up - and it is an important nesting place for passing birds.

King Vittorio Amedeo II created here a stud farm for the royal stables from which the name “La Mandria” derives, while Vittorio Emanuele II wanted the Borgo Castello to be built here and other buildings to live in, apparently, with his morganatic wife, Rosa Vercellana.

Upon the death of Vittorio Emanuele II, the estate passed to the Marquis Medici del Vascello and during the following period portions of land were sold for the construction of various residences and even a golf course, until, from 1976, it became the property of the * Piedmont Region* which established the Mandria Regional Park there in 1978, among the six Piedmontese parks which formed the first nucleus of regional parks established in Italy.

Today the park is very frequented by picnickers, mountain bikers, tourists and locals from Turin who want to spend a day outdoors.

The Park La Mandria di Venaria is open every day, but, depending on the season, some areas may be closed so as not to disturb the reproduction of the animals. You can explore it independently or even join guided tours.

To find out about all the initiatives you can consult the official site.

Most of the trails are wide and unpaved, some narrow and muddy.

Inside the Parco della Mandria there are several fountains, areas with tables and containers for separate waste collection, shaded areas and structures for eating and sleeping, recognizable with the logo of the Mandria and public toilets.

Among the entrances we recommend the one from Ponte Verde, where there is a free parking and an info point where you can get the map of the Park.

Attention! Dogs are not allowed in the Mandria park to prevent them from preying on the wildlife that lives in the park.

The Mandria Castle

Inside the Parco della Mandria, 1000 meters from the Palace of Venaria, there is the Castello della Mandria, designed inside by Domenico Ferri and outside by Barnaba Panizza.

Savoy residence since the 1860s, when Vittorio Emanuele II decided to settle here, making it his favorite residence.

The over 20 rooms, open to the public, show the visitor all the charm of a great protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento who shared part of his private life, right at the Castello della Mandria, with his morganatic wife Rosa Vercellana , known as *Bela Rosin, named countess of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda.

The Royal Apartments have reached today fully furnished with precious artifacts, works of art, fabrics, furnishings and furnishings from the ancient Savoyard collections.

Ruins of the Castellaccio di Rubbianetta

On the Hill of Rubbianetta, where the small Borgo di Rubbianetta once stood, now disappeared, stands the solitary remains of the ancient medieval castle belonging to the Viscount of Baratonia.

The fortified structure, a military outpost for the control of the Turin area and the mountain passes, over time assumed the function of shelter for the rural village built near the ancient church of San Giuliano.

The first written evidence of the presence of a fort in this area dates back to 1090. From the second half of the 1200s, with the division of the territory between the Savoia and the Acaja, its defensive function ceased. In 1264 the provost of the cathedral of Turin sold to Giacomo di Baratonia half of the castle with the connected lordly rights for 125 Vienna lire.

The history of the family of the Viscounts of Baratonia dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and is linked to the figure of the countess Adelaide (of whom we have extensively dealt with in the article on Susa town).

In 1343 Giacomo d’Acaia invested the Provana di Carignano with the feud.

The materials used are all poor and easily available in the area: river stones and clay bricks bonded with mortar, while the destroyed parts must have been made of wood.

The little that remains of the castle allows us to understand the composition of the structure and to identify some parts: portions of the walls and a quadrilateral tower in stones and bricks which must have been much higher, with at least two more floors beyond the still standing one, to allow a complete view of the entire valley.

The entrance to Castellaccio can still be recognized on the southern slopes of the hill: to reach the main gate it was necessary to go all around the walls, under fire from the loopholes for the archers.

The remains can be enjoyed on guided tours by the Park Authority. The entrance for the public from Venaria is from the Ponte Verde in viale Carlo Emanuele II, 256.

The Church of San Giuliano

At the foot of the hill on which the ruins of the Castellaccio remain stands the small Church of San Giuliano, built around 1263 in the Piedmontese Gothic architectural style of S. Antonio of Ranverso and of St. Pietro di Pianezza and linked to the Benedictine Abbey of San Giacomo di Stura.

It underwent transformations and expansions starting from the middle of the thirteenth century and was rebuilt in the fifteenth century. The facade is from the seventeenth century. In 1489 it was elevated to the rank of parish, and in 1493 enriched by a cycle of frescoes of saints and blesseds, very well preserved and recently restored.

The wooden beam bears a crucifix painted on a panel of Byzantine workmanship, the survivor of a wooden triptych whose lateral parts have been stolen. Finally, noteworthy is a grandiose painted wooden crucifix from the end of the 15th century, perhaps referable to the Jaqueriana school.

Normally closed to the public, the church is only open on special occasions.

Castello dei laghi

In the central area of ​​the Parco della Mandria, in Strada Bottione, there are three fairy-tale lakes, wanted by the sovereign for hunting purposes, today a refuge for the aquatic fauna of the Park.

At the center of a peninsula that extends into the Lago Grande, is the Castello dei Laghi, with a particular Y shape and with the front partially hidden, built around 1860 by Vittorio Emanuele II, to facilitate, together with the Bizzarria, the hunting of migratory species.

Neo-medieval architecture, which refers to French castles, is the result of the eclecticism of the second half of the 19th century: its value more than for architecture is given by the fairy-tale setting and the historical point of view.

A hundred years later from its construction it was purchased by the Bonomi Bolchini family with the sale promoted by the Marquis Luigi Medici del Vascello and the original central nucleus, characterized by four towers, two of which are crenellated, was enlarged with the construction of the two wings protruding from the central body. The garden is now presented with lawns and wooded areas.

With the establishment of the Park, which prohibits hunting, the Bonomi Bolchinis lost interest in the property and in 1995 they sold it to the Piedmont Region.

Today, awaiting restoration work, both the building and the surrounding environment are in a state of abandonment and degradation, due to the total lack of maintenance.

The magnificent scenography has made the ** Castello dei Laghi di Venaria ** the ideal location for film productions. In 2012 it was the set for Cinderella by Gioachino Rossini. In 2019 for the Italian horror film The Nest.

Mario Santi military airport

In 1909 it was built within the current park surrounding the Palace of Venaria, the oldest Italian military stopover, named in memory of Mario Santi and managed by the Italian Army, equipped with two grass runways.

Here, using the state-owned land of the nearby Reggia, the aircraft designed by the aviation pioneer Aristide Faccioli were developed who in 1909 flew the Faccioli triplane no. 1, the first aircraft of entirely Italian design and construction, piloted on that occasion by his son Mario.

Faccioli n.1, which was destroyed after the first flights, was followed by other aircraft that used the Venaria field, now a real military airport.

The Faccioli moved to the state-owned areas of Cameri to continue the experiments which ended tragically with Mario’s death in a flight accident in 1915, which followed four years after the suicide of his father Artistide.

During the First World War the Royal Army used the field for the activities of the piloting school which together with the Mirafiori Airport until the end of hostilities in 1918 made 350 military aviators obtain the piloting license, including the most famous axes of conflict.

Currently, the airport is home to the 34th Gruppo Squadroni AVES “Toro” which has here its base for the medium helicopters Agusta Bell 205, the main military helicopters used by the Americans in the Vietnam War, and reconnaissance ones Agusta Bell 206.

Venaria cycle paths

Venaria Reale offers its visitors an extensive cycle network, with tracks and itineraries towards the La Mandria natural park and the Valli di Lanzo.

Cycle path in Chico Mendes Park

The Parco Chico Mendes is a protected green area that extends for about 100 hectares, bordering the territories of Turin and Venaria, crossed by the river Stura di Lanzo, and crossed by pedestrian paths and cycle paths, which lead to Caselle Torinese, Borgaro Torinese and towards the Valli di Lanzo.

On the banks of the Stura there are beaches with large stones, ideal for sunbathing and relaxing. However, bathing is prohibited due to the danger of the waters.

In the part of the Chico Mendes Park in Borgaro, on an area of ​​7000 square meters, a Jurassic-themed exhibition is set up: the Dinosaurs Park.

In this biopark - where it is possible to walk among the dinosaurs of different eras - various activities aimed at environmental education are carried out.

Stop in Borgaro

Along the cycle path of the Chico Mendes Park and the Corona Verde we will touch the municipality of Borgaro.

Santa Cristina Castle
Santa Cristina Castle

Here we meet the Borgaro main interest point, reachable by bike via a short detour marked on the map at the beginning of the guide: the Santa Cristina Castle, built in the 17th century for the French nobleman François Havard de Sènantes, who moved to Piedmont in the service of the Savoy.

Today the Santa Cristina Castle is privately owned, but visible from the outside.

Corona verde dello Stura di Lanzo cycle path

Corona Verde cycle path
Corona Verde cycle path

The resurgences

Going along the Corona Verde dello Stura di Lanzo cycle-pedestrian we meet, on the right bank of the river, at the height of the Municipalities of Grange di Nole and Villanova, a vast wetland fed by springs: this is which remains of the ancient riparian lowland wood that once flanked the course of the river.

Corona Verde dello Stura di Lanzo cycle-pedestrian
Corona Verde dello Stura di Lanzo cycle-pedestrian

The resurgences of clear and clean water along the abandoned riverbeds preserve interesting ecosystems, characterized by marsh plants. They are the ideal habitat for various species of amphibians and reptiles and fish as well as for the rare freshwater crayfish.

The bed of the stream and its banks are frequented by various species of sedentary and migratory birds, including mallards, herons, egrets, little grebes, coots, great crested grebes, ospreys, buzzards, sparrowhawks and wild gooses.

Corona verde dello Stura
Corona verde dello Stura

I Gorèt Naturalistic Oasis

In this area there is the I Goret Naturalistic Oasis, a protected natural area born from the recovery project of an abandoned quarry.

The landscape is typical of the riverbeds of the Piedmont plain. The resurgences feed small lakes, ponds and interconnected wetlands.

Gorèt in the local dialect indicates the riparian woods of the Stura torrent. The gure are the willows that grow spontaneously along these banks, from which the materials were obtained for making baskets and tying the vine plants to the rows and the corn cobs to the travà of the houses for drying.

The well-kept forest offered mushrooms, flowers and fruits of the undergrowth, but the progressive lowering of the bed of the Stura, the excavation works on the banks, the abandonment of cultivation and the consequent and repeated forest fires contributed to degrading the riparian environment, precluding its use.

Paleontological site of the Stura di Lanzo fossil forest

In this protected naturalistic area, for a stretch of 300 m on both banks of the Stura, the remains of an ancient forest of Glyptostrobus were found - tree species similar to sequoias of which similar specimens exist today only in China southern -.

The Stura di Lanzo Fossil Forest represents one of the most important paleontological evidence of our Region.

About 3 million years ago there was probably a swamp in that place. The vegetation that grew there was destroyed (perhaps by fire) and settled in the swamp itself. Thus the necessary conditions for fossilization were verified.

The remains, perfectly preserved, belong to species that today are no longer part of the spontaneous vegetation of Europe.

The Stura di Lanzo is a torrential stream, characterized by long periods of low water alternating with floods, sometimes sudden and devastating.

The real mystery is how these stumps haven’t rotted. It is believed that they were preserved thanks to a wet mummification process: after their burial under silty-clayey sediments, the absence of free oxygen probably prevented the chemical oxidation of the wood and its decomposition by bacteria.

The forest of oaks and the Fontana dei Ghiaieti

At Maddaleno, it is possible to enter the Bosco dei Roveri, where the Fontana dei Ghiaieti, a resurgence long used by the local laundresses, is still preserved.

La Funtana ‘d Cup

The resurgence called Funtana ‘d Cup deserves a stop, which has the particularity of having constant water flow and temperature throughout the year. Here the thermal shock that is created in winter between the temperature of the water and that of the air causes the formation of vapors which make the environment very suggestive.

Ancient River Port of Nole

The Ancient river port of Nole was known since the Middle Ages as a crossing point for the torrent by means of barges anchored to a rope.

In the early 1900s a bridge was built on concrete pillars with a deck in iron beams and wooden planks which allowed the passage of the first agricultural vehicles.

The bridge was damaged several times by the floods of the Stura, but always rebuilt until the 1970s with temporary wooden walkways - called pianche - of which a large support pylon is still present, used in the past by the local population of Grange di Nole to reach Nole.

The Path of the fountains

Inside the wetland area of ​​the resurgences an evocative path winds its way among springs, streams, ferns, alders and oaks: it is the Sentiero delle Fontane, which takes its name from the characteristic water resurgences, protected integrated in the SCI Stura di Lanzo, part of the European Ecological Network Natura 2000.

The route is located on private land and can only be used through a guided tour by representatives of the park authority.

Here you can findthe path of the fountains brochure[PDF].

San Vito Sanctuary
San Vito Sanctuary
San Vito Sanctuary

Among fields and woods, just outside the protected area, about 600 meters east of the bed of the Stura - at the crossroads of the roads once traveled by carts that went from the center of Nole to the Stura stream and beyond the stream itself, up to at the Grange di Nole - we find the San Vito Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary, progressively enlarged over the years, is rich in valuable seventeenth-century frescoes and preserves more than 300 votive paintings attesting the graces presumably received from St. Vito and a splendid eighteenth-century Baroque wooden altar with lively colors.

The precise year of construction is not known, but from documents it already exists at the end of the 16th century, even if it is still very small.

It is believed that it was already a place of prayer dedicated to the saint in the late Middle Ages, in conjunction with the development of the Nolese shelter around the parish church.

Like many other sanctuaries built around a votive pylon dedicated to the saint, it was progressively enlarged in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The pylon soon became a religious reference point for the area due to the alleged miraculous events that occurred around it. Among the healings received, there is a story of a cripple who was instantly healed and left his crutches behind.

The custom and the influx of the faithful to the Sanctuary in past centuries was such as to require the presence of a person who was in charge of the opening and cleaning: then two rooms were built to accommodate a hermit (or hermit) who lived in this place far from the town.

The eighteenth century saw the progressive expansion of both the sanctuary and the hermitage house and the construction of the bell tower.

In 1794, following a pardon obtained from the holy martyr Vito, Count Amedeo Cavalleri di Rivarossa retired to a hermitage at the sanctuary. Legend has it that, mortally wounded in battle in the Maritime Alps on 14 June 1794, he was saved through the intercession of San Vito.

Arrived at the sanctuary he lived there until his death in 1837.

The sacristy, as we find it today, is also a 19th-century work, as is the portico, built to offer shelter to pilgrims in case of bad weather, given that there were no other places to shelter nearby.

The sanctuary reached its current structure in 1819.

Venaria mysteries

Piazza dell’Annunziata and the Collare dell’Annunziata

Venaria is influenced by the mysterious charm of chivalric orders.

The plan of the square of the village, Piazza dell’Annunziata, follows the shape of the Collar of the Annunziata, symbol of the Supreme Order of the Santissima Annunziata, highest honor of the House of Savoy and oldest Knightly Order, which has its roots in the traditions of ancient Egypt.

There are twenty large necklaces for knights awarded the title, and these must be returned to the Grand Master upon the knight’s death.

Vittorio Amedeo II ghost

Avta - the Venariase Environmental Protection Association, which manages the guided tours and events held at the Palace of Venaria Reale - has collected over the years reports of unidentified presences, such as the crying of a little girl.

Others swear they heard at dusk, in the corridors and gardens of the Palace and its park, an unmistakable sound of hooves accompanied by the scent of bergamot. The plants of this citrus fruit, in large terracotta pots, once adorned the gardens of the Reggia.

It would be the ghost of King Vittorio Amedeo II riding his trusty white steed, guarding the Royal Palace to keep away vandals and visitors who do not respect its majesty.

Born in 1666 from the second marriage of Carlo Emanuele II with Maria Giovanna Battista di Savoia Nemours and crowned in 1713 as the first King of Savoy, known as the Savoy Fox.

By driving away his mother - an energetic and powerful woman - from the political scene through what can be defined as a real coup d’état, he put an end to the Turinese royal madams by re-establishing the male political line.

He took over the reins of the nation, lent his alliance alternately, both to France and to Austria, in order to expand the domains of Savoy.

In 1713 France won and established itself as interlocutor on the Italian political scene becoming, with the Treaty of Utrecht, king of Sicily, a territory subsequently exchanged with Sardinia through the Treaty of London.

Are the stories about the ghost of Vittorio Amedeo II just bar talk? Likely. And yet, as Gianfranco Falzoni, president of Avta, tells the press

«Once Vittorio Amedeo was even photographed. Years ago here it was full of soldiers who, from the nearby barracks, slipped into the church of Sant’Uberto and smeared the walls with shameful writings or declarations of love. I told their commander to reprimand them. No one defiled the interior anymore. So I thanked the officer who, however, admitted that he had never said anything to the troops and explained to me that they no longer went there because they had seen a man with a horse appear and they were terrified».

“Yes, I heard the sound of carriages and trotting horses”, says in turn Bruno Sacco, a freelancer born in 1970, well known in Venaria because he is part of the Carlo Emanuele II Duke of Savoy Military Historical Group, where he plays precisely the role of the Duke of Savoy.

“In the spring of 2013 I was in the company of a friend of mine and as we were returning home, we passed by via XX Settembre. Halfway through, we began to hear the sound of carriages and trotting horses. At first I thought I had heard wrong, then, comparing myself with my friend we understood that those noises were real. We were dumbfounded.”

The ghost, the son of the “Duke of Savoy” is precisely the character played by Sacco himself: “When I think about it, I get chills – he comments – because he probably wanted to communicate something to me. Unfortunately, however, it never happened to hear the carriages again, even if, to be honest, in other circumstances I have heard voices inside Sant’Uberto”.

Ghost hunting in the Palace of Venaria

At night, voices, sounds, whispers are heard, and there are areas of the building where the functioning of a camera is altered.

A team of eight members of the technical staff of the National Institute for Research and Study of Paranormal Phenomena then decided to scour the Palace at night in search of ghosts, placing infrared cameras and special microphones inside the rooms to pick up any movement or sound .

And the technicians swear that strange things happen inside the Palace of Venaria.

As reported by La Stampa, a variation of the electromagnetic fields was recorded during the hunt which revealed a near a staircase that starts from the gallery with the 45 portraits of the Savoy dynasty.

Maria Giovanna di Trecesson

More than miserable and legends here we talk about Gossip.

In 1668 the name of Maria Giovanna di Trecesson was on everyone’s lips: Marchioness of Cavour was the mistress of King Carlo Emanuele II.

The king’s wife, the duchess Giovanna Maria di Savoia Nemours, pretended not to notice the betrayal, waiting for the most opportune moment to set a trap and unmask the lovers.

So she caught her husband red-handed in bed with the Marquise, showing up at the Palace by surprise when he was supposed to go hunting with his cousin.

The octagonal room of Venaria Reale

In a house at the end of Via Andrea Mensa, near the entrance to the Reggia, there is a large octagonal hall. Each side of the octagon has a door that led into seven rooms.

In the apartment, connected to the Reggia through a series of secret underground passages, according to some a secret dependence of the Reggia, characters from the Savoy court met.

The diners dined and celebrated in the octagonal room and then each retired to one of the bedrooms with the lady of the moment, in great secrecy and away from prying eyes.

It is said that the trapdoor - now walled up - which led to the apartment’s secret passage communicating with the Reggia, still exists today.

Lucio della Venaria, between history and legend

Anyone who has a Piedmontese relative or friend, especially if a little older, has certainly heard of a certain Lucio della Venaria.

But who knows who he was?

To a friend who tells lies, an elderly Piedmontese could still answer:

“Go to contéjla at the Lucio dla Venerìa”

An invitation to make someone else more gullible buy the lie or exaggeration, a way to make the interlocutor understand that you are not stupid.

The Lucio of this ancient Piedmontese idiom was actually a carnival mask.

The first documentation of his appearances on the stages of the puppet theaters of Piedmont date back to the mid-nineteenth century, but it is probable that his origins, in the world of the traveling theater of the Commedia dell’Arte, are much older.

Lucio never covered the role of first protagonist: he was a sort of sidekick. However in certain contexts he became the true supporter of the dialogue, the fulcrum of the scene.

He played the role of a naive, highly gullible, and sometimes even a little short-brained character, in some cases the played dumb.

There are those who claim that in the woods of the Mandria estate, behind the Reggia della Venaria, there was a statue depicting a mysterious character, who wore a showy headdress. The sculpture, according to the stories, rested on a stone pedestal, which bore a scroll engraved with “Lucio della Venaria”.

Questo articolo è stato scritto in collaborazione con Uxnovo Web Agency.

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Alessandro Gemscovery Travel Blog
Alessandro Lussi
Computer scientist, electrical engineer, mechanic and jurist, traveling on the road since birth.
Passionate about off-grid life and self-production, I write for passion.