Parties and receptions in the court gardens

In the 16th century, The Castle of Valentino was already a riverside residence outside the city, but it was in its heyday under Christine of France, the first Regent of the House of Savoy, who selected it as her main palace; she had the Castle enlarged according to the French style and promoted the rich decoration of the rooms on the piano nobile. When she died, her frequent parties died with her. A few decades later, one of the side gardens became the Botanical Garden of the University, which can still be visited.

Perched on the bank of the River Po, in the heart of a leafy green park close to the centre of Turin, the Castello del Valentino takes its name from the term Vallantinum, used to indicate the morphology of the land around it, characterised by a small valley.
Its history is linked to the relocation of the capital of the Duchy of Savoy from Chambery to Turin in 1563. Just a year later, Duke Emanuele Filiberto purchased the site with the aim of strategically extending his control over the areas surrounding the city.
It was in the 17th century, however, that the residence enjoyed its greatest splendour. When Vittorio Amedeo I and Christine of France married in 1619, Duke Carlo Emanuele I gave it as a gift to the young bride, who transformed it according to French tastes over a period of about twenty years. The design was entrusted to the architects Carlo and Amedeo di Castellamonte, who worked on the part of the exterior overlooking the Po, directly accessible from the river, and on the façade looking towards the present-day church of San Salvario, in correspondence with a large tree-lined avenue, now Corso Marconi.
The magnificence of the architecture is matched by the splendour of the interior. Refined subjects were frescoed by Isidoro Bianchi and his workshop, first on the ceilings of the south-facing rooms from 1633 onwards, set in rich gilded stucco frames. In the Hall of Honour, Bianchi’s paintings explicitly celebrated the close relationship between the courts of Turin and France. Beginning in 1645, the rooms in the north part of the castle were also decorated with stucco and frescoes, created by Giovanni Paolo and Giovanni Antonio Recchi and a skilful team of plasterers from Lugano (Alessandro Casella, Bernardino Quadri, Elia Castelli and Giovanni Luca Corbellino).
After the magnificence promoted by Christine of France, interventions in the 18th century were rather limited as the castle was no longer used as a court residence. In 1729, Vittorio Amedeo II transformed one of the two side gardens into a botanical garden, with the aim of studying and cultivating a wide variety of plants.
The last transformations date back to the mid-19th century. They were designed by Domenico Ferri and Luigi Tonta and partly changed the original layout by Carlo and Amedeo di Castellamonte. In 1861, the castle became the premises of the Regia Scuola di Applicazione per gli Ingegneri di Torino (founded in 1859), from which the Politecnico di Torino was born in 1906. The School of Architecture still occupies the former residence.
Viale Pier Andrea Mattioli, 39 – Torino


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