Located about six miles outside of Turin, visitors will find Italy’s very own Palace of Versailles. The gardens are works of art, while the palace itself is a testament to Italian architecture and creativity. Come have a look inside La Reggia di Venaria.
Construction on La Reggia di Venaria began in 1658. Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy and his wife wanted to add to their growing collection of extravagant properties. Architect Amedeo di Castellamonte was brought on to design and execute the project. His overall scheme included the palace, a garden, a wooded area for hunting, and a village. The finished estate was impressive, but it had not yet attained its peak beauty.
Years later, the new Duke of Savoy, Vittorio Amedeo II, hired Michelangelo Garove to transform La Reggia. He was instructed to make the palace and grounds as stunning as France’s Versailles. In 1716, when Vittorio become King of Sardinia, he had the property enlarged, creating the estate visitors see today.
La Reggia di Venaria remained a royal residence until 1798. It was then used as military barracks until after World War II. The gardens were stripped bare while horses and troops moved in. When the military left, the palace vandals began stripping the interior.
Despite its drab appearance, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization) saw the property’s worth and named it a World Heritage Site in 1997. Two years later, the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage set up the La Venaria Reale Project. This restoration venture was the largest Europe had ever seen. The work included replanting the gardens, rehabilitating the exterior fountains, restoring the estate’s interior frescoes, and preserving the stucco work throughout.
The project took about 7 years and opened to the public on October 12, 2007.