A hidden gem in the Canavese region in Piedmont: among all the gems of the “Corona delle delizie” (the House of Savoy’s network of hunting and “loisir” retreats), with its park and gardens Castello di Agliè is truly unique in charm, monumentality and grandeur.
One of the royal residences of Piedmont, this unaltered mid-17th century complex boasts a unique balance between nature and architecture. Originally built for the Marquis of San Martino, Castello di Agliè was bought by the Savoia family in 1765 to be transformed into a countryside retreat for the son of Charles Emmanuel III, Benedetto Maurizio, Duke of Chiablese. From 1767 to 1775, head of the Royal Gardens Michel Benard and royal architect Birago di Borgaro worked together on an expansive project that incorporated pre-existent routes and elevations. In 1829, Xavier Kurten redesigned the vast park according to the principles of Romantic landscape gardening. The garden adjacent to the villa, however, was left untouched and today still resonates with 17th-century Italian-garden aesthetics, featuring greenhouses overlooking the elevated garden, large stairways leading down to the lower garden section grottoes with telamon sculptures, talus walls covered in climbing plants, an outstanding Neo-Baroque 19th-century parterre, and a large circular basin with its high jet of water. On the terraces grow citrus trees originally from the Palazzo Reale of Turin. The park with its many winding routes and vast grassy lawn also features a small lake with an islet and a jetty. Not far off there are some ancient ruins from the “La Ruffinella” villa in Frascati, creating a suggestive landscape. On the right side of the park the gate frames a view of
Appartamento dei bagni
Entirely frescoed and connected to the elevated garden through large French-doors, this “bathing apartment” testifies to the high level of refinement of the first owners of the castle, who equipped their property with a specific space dedicated to bathing and relaxation with tubs and beds (no longer present), just like in the most modern 18th-century French castles.
The Serra Verde greenhouse is completely covered with a magnificent Ficus pumila, while the Serra Bianca in the section that was added in the late 18th century overlooks the elevated garden creating a charming setting for the viewers to enjoy.
The grottoes in the parterre
These 17th-century grottoes, with their original great marble telamon outer decoration, overlook the great mid-19th century Neo-Baroque parterre, with a profusion of box hedges and hydrangeas.
Fontana dei Fiumi
This fountain is a late-Baroque masterpiece located at the centre of the two ramps leading to the park from a large basin with sculptures representing the local waterways (sculpted by Ignazio and Filippo Collino, 1767-73).
Castello di Agliè is the only House of Savoy residence to have a theatre: a small Neo-Classic room with original backdrops that in 2020 made it in the FAI “Luoghi del Cuore” shortlist.
La villa "Il Meleto"
Guido Gozzano’s countryside villa, this 19th-century building was renovated in 1904 to be updated to the then current Art Nouveau trend. Surrounded by an English-style landscape garden, the property features the poet’s bedroom, study and library, as well as the famous “Grandmother Speranza’s sitting room” with its “fine things of bad taste”.
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Designer of countless gardens around the world, in his homeland Great Britain, as well as in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Persia, Egypt, United States, Mexico and Chile, Page was a fine connoisseur of historical gardening and an innovator whose work resonated with the landscaping culture of William Morris, Gertrud Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens.