FROM THE FOUNDATION TO THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, THE MEDIOEVAL CASTLE BECAMES A DUCAL RESIDENCE.
The Rivoli Castle was built in the 11th century on the morainic hill as a fortified construction along the road to France. Its first owners were the Archibishops of Turin, and in 1247 it became property of the Savoy family. Rivoli was, in the Middle Age, one of the capitals of the Savoy itinerant court, used as an important scenary for political meetings, marriages, like the Bianca of Savoy and Galeazzo Visconti ‘s one and some others magnificent celebrations. In 1560, Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy used Rivoli as temporary residence, waiting to settle definitely in Turin. Francesco Paciotto from Urbino, an important military engineer, transformed the military fortress in a residece for the court, he even planned a terraced garden, and an hypogeal nymphaeum, recently restored. The room decorations, exalting the members of the dinasty, has been made by the important painters Morazzone and Bianchi. Emanuele Filiberto’s son, Carlo Emanuele I, born in a Rivoli in 1562, following the legend, at the presence of Nostradamus, encharged the architect Castellamonte, to embellish the Castle and to built the Manica Lunga, singular structure 140 meters long and 6 meters wide, used to host his important pictures collection. The Castellamonte project is well described in the Theatrum Sabaudiae, the albums conceived to show to the european courts the marvels of Piedmont.
THE 17th : FILIPPO JUVARRA GREAT PROJECT
The building has been seriously damaged in 1693 by the French army, at the orders of General Nicolas de Catinat, following in this destiny some others important buildings such as Avigliana Castle, San Michele Abbey and Venaria Royal Palace. The renaissance of Rivoli was a direct desire of Vittorio Amedeo II, who called at first Michelangelo Garove and then, in 1718 Filippo Juvarra. The historical period was very important for the Savoy Dinasty, it was the end of the Spanish Succession War, that declared Vittorio Amedeo II king of Sicily. Rivoli was an important part of his aspirations , infact, he wanted to transform the Castle in an important residence that had to rivalize with the others in Europe, an undoutbful synbol of his new status and the new role of the Savoy in the European political situation. The Castle was connected phisically, visually and simbolically to the city, to the Royal Palace, and Superga thanks to the “stradone”, now Francia avenue. Vittorio Amedeo II used Rivoli as the theatre of his public and private life important events : his ascent to the throne, in 1684, his abidcation in 1730 and his painful captivity in 1731. For these last reason, but even for the lack of interest of his successor the imposing Juvarra ‘s project was realized only for a third part . It is possible to admire the whole project thanks to the beautiful wooden maquette, happily preserved, masterpeice of Carlo Maria Ugliengo, now at Palazzo Madama. The maquette shows the building, without the Manica Lunga, and the never realized part as the hall and the central great room. Another important witness of the Juvarra’s imposing project are the six big paintings, made by the best landscape painters of the period, they show the Castle as an ideal scene for the life of the Court, with people playing, the arrival of the King carriage, and Juvarra and the painter Pannini talking along the staircase that had to go from Rivoli to the Castle.
THE NEW SEASON IN RIVOLI : THE DUKES OF AOSTA. In 1793 a new architect Carlo Randoni, was encharged to work at the Castle. The new owner is Vittorio Emanuele duke of Aosta. This was a very important period, the French Revolution started to change the european situation, in 1796 the Savoy after Cherasco Armistice were oblidged to go to exile in Sardinia. Anyway a new work campaign started in Rivoli, the Juvarra’s project was not continued because it was too huge, the architect Randoni worked at the second floor, in the Dukes ‘ Apartment. The rooms, where were working the most important painters and ebanists of the period, are in Louis XVI style, very similar to the Robert Adam and the Milan working architect Leopold Pollack ’s one. During the Napoleon period the Castle and Rivoli were part of the Principality of the Moschowa and given by the Emperor to his cousin Ney, as we can read in a letter written on the 8th of february 1813. In this period the furniture, the statues and the pictures were transferred in Turin. Vittorio Emanuele after the fall of Napoleon came back from the exile as the new king and Rivoli became a Royal Residence. The works started again, but without any important change. The presence of the Court was very rare, and when the King died in 1824, his widow Maria Teresa ordered to transfer the remaining furniture to nowadays Villa Cristina in Altessano, near Turin.
FROM THE SAVOY TO THE CITY OF RIVOLI.
The building and its surrounding, were inherited by the King’s four daughters, and it started to be only a very expensive voice in the royal budget, although the rent from it was annually of 2.000 annual Liras . Loaned to the army, all the Manica Lunga became the seat of the 50° Regiment of Infantry, thanks to that the Municipality of Rivoli contracts a mutuum. Finally in 1882 a Royal Decree authorized the Municipality to buy the Castle for 100.000 Liras, for that reason it has been opened a “Public Subscription” and the act of sale was stipulated in 1883. The Municipality,as the owner,put in the south-east part of the Castle as civic library, and to store the remaining furniture and the maquette of Ugliengo, the Army used the rest of the building for the soldiers. Following the contract the heirs kept the propriety of the pictures, the sculptures and the furniture “with the perpetual obligation to do not remove them from the Royal Castle”. The residence, jewel of Savoia House for five centuries, became definitively a barracks and its decline started. In 1800 the Castle for a little while was used for some exhibitions, and it was visited by the Royals, from that period we have the photos, images of other times, of the Birreria Bosio beside the great wisteria that still exist today . After this moment the residence was left to improper uses. The Castle has been occupied during the Second War by the German army, bombed by the Allied until the ’60 used to host the homeless . The humidity started to soak the beams, the rain entered inside the Castle because there were not any windows and doors damaging frescoes, wooden pavements and furniture, and even the vegetation started to grow inside.
A NEW STEP : ANDREA BRUNO RENOVATION.
A new hope arrived thanks to the celebrations for the Unification of Italy in 1961, unfortunately the money assigned for the renovation was not enough to start the works, it happened in 1979, after the last collapses, with the project made by the architect Andrea Bruno. The Castle reopened in 1984 as the first Contemporary Museum of Italy.