The Reggia of Venaria Reale. In the past one of many summer residence 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 of decorations like frescoes, stuccos and extraordinary details. The complex attracts with opened spaces and with numerous exhibitions. You can spend your time walking around garden beds or relaxing in one of 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 fountains water. Ones I took the exit form Turin bypass, I needed only few minutes to reach a 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 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 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 into Italian unification wars (Risorgimento) and during the first and the second world war it’s was a quarter of Italian soldiers. After that the residence was abounded and it was given over for a prey to thieves. Its fait 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 Europe conservation work – was finished in 2007. After the inauguration it became one the most visited places in Italy.
The complex offers different attractions, especially in the months of spring and summer. From mid April till 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 (wolfs, 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 the spring to come back there and to taste a pleasure of a gondola tour and to visit the La Mandria park.
More about the complex and exhibitions you will find on: http://www.lavenaria.it/web/en/