[ Apr.2019 ] At the ticket counter of La Venaria Reale in Piedmont in the north of Italy, the vendor told us “The castle has only 20 rooms while the palace has 52, but the original furniture is in the castle so it is worth visiting there”.
So after visiting the garden, we headed for the castle.
The castle is about 2km away from the palace and we took a bus to get there.
They said it is a shuttle bus, so we imagined that it is a special bus running between the palace and the castle, but in fact, it was a local bus, which connects Turin and La Venaria Reale.
The service is not so frequent, so you had better check the timetable beforehand.
Because it is a local bus, you need to pay for the ride, but the drivers (to and from) gave us free rides for their own reasons.
The castle was situated among some brick buildings facing the huge park.
This park, called La Mandria, was created for the royal family to enjoy hunting and apparently there is a 30km fence surrounding this park.
There are deer, foxes, wild boars and other animals living here now.
The castle itself was built in 1859 as the hunting lodge for Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of the Kingdom of Italy, which was established in 1861.
After his death, the castle was sold to another family and then the local government bought it in 1976 and started restoration works.
Now, more than 100 artworks, 1,200 square metres decorations, 60 pieces of furniture, 130 square metres of textiles and 80 square metres of wall paper are completely restored.
All of them are original, so people can see the taste of the king.
In the first hall, there was the armour of a Japanese samurai.
Each room was rather small and crammed with the furniture.
There was a corridor called “the birds corridor” with many stuffed specimens, which showed that this castle was built as a hunting estate.
Apparently, this castle had another aspect, which was as the love nest for the King and his mistress, called Rosa Vercellana.
This woman, who is known as “Rosina” met the future King when she was 14, as her father was leading a garrison.
Vittorio had already married by then and the King and the Queen had as many as 8 children, but he loved Rosina sincerely, so after the Queen’s death, he married Rosina.
However, because she was his morganatic wife, she was never recognised as Queen.
From 1860 on, Rosina lived in this Castle of La Mandria.
By the way, the other brick buildings close to the castle all looked abandoned.
They seemed to have tried to convert one of them into a hotel and it was glazed, but they seemed to have given up.
Including the Venaria palace itself, the restoration work did not look like it was completed yet.
We waited for the return bus at a bench and above that, wisterias bloomed beautifully and many bees were flying around.