It was my friend Antonio, who comes from Turin, who told me about Villa della Regina (Villa of the Queen) on the outskirts of the city. I wondered if it was a bit far to walk, but a google search told me it was just 36 minutes by foot from my hotel.
I set off around 10am taking a slight detour via the glorious Piazza San Carlo where I stopped for coffee and a croissant at Stratta cafe.
From there I made my way to via Po and down into Piazzo Vittorio Veneto and across Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I. The bridge was built by Napoleon in 1807 when he ruled Piedmont. In 1814 when Vittorio Emanuele I re-entered the city he ordered all trace of the French occupation to be destroyed – except this bridge!
The River Po is the longest river in Italy and famous to foodies for the best risotto rice is said to be that grown in its valley.
Once across the Po, it was a simple – if steep – climb up via Villa della Regina to the house.
It cost €5 to go inside. I was offered a tour in Italian but not English. I decided to just wander round as I’m happy doing that.
You first go through a display of the history of the house and the vineyard, which offers a lot of information in various languages, including English. There are also bottles of the wine and various products to see.
From windows you can appreciate the attraction of the location with its wonderful views across Turin.
The Villa was formerly a Savoy Royal residence. Built in the early 17th century, it is one of 22 residences – palaces and villas – of the Savoy royals which now form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Eleven of the sites are in central Turin, the rest, like Villa della Regina, outside.
Currently undergoing renovation, the Villa is fascinating to see. A number of the rooms had furnishings strongly influenced by China.
While the front of the Villa gives fantastic panaromic views over Turin, the back looks out to the gardens.
The route for visitors to take is clearly marked, leading you round the edge of the gardens towards the vineyard. As part of the renovation the vines were replanted in 2003 with the Freisa grape.
Close to the vines you get a wonderful view across the city, the tall Mole Antonelliana, the tallest brick building in Europe when it was built in the 1860s, rising up in the distance.
A steep downward path leads you out of the grounds and back to the road. It had been a delightful way to spend the morning. The sun was shining and warm; it was quiet and peaceful everywhere; I’d enjoyed seeing the Villa and the views across Turin were worth the climb on their own.
Back in the centre I decided it was time for lunch and went into Caffe Mulassano, one of Turin’s most famous art nouveau style cafes.
I ordered a simple toastie of ham and local Aosta cheese with a glass of local white wine. It came with a rather splendid array of complimentary snacks. Aperitivo time starts early in Turin.
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