Valle di Gressoney

Gressoney-Saint-Jean

Savoia Castle

Queen Margherita's mansion with Monte Rosa view

By: Gressoney Monterosa

Gressoney Castello

Built at the behest of Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was staying in Gressoney as a guest of the Beck Peccoz barons as early as 1889, the castle stands at the foot of the Colle della Ranzola in the locality known as "Belvedere," because of the splendid view from there that dominates the entire valley as far as the Lyskamm glacier.

The laying of the foundation stone of the building took place on August 24, 1899 in the presence of King Umberto I who, assassinated in Monza a year later, would not see the completion of the work, which lasted until 1904. The mansion hosted the Queen during her summer stays until 1925, a year before her death, which occurred in Bordighera on January 4, 1926. After being purchased in 1936 by the Milanese industrialist Moretti, the castle became the property of the Autonomous Region of Valle d'Aosta in 1981.

Consisting of a roughly rectangular central core, flanked by five cusped turrets, one different from the other, the castle was designed by architect Emilio Stramucci (creator of the neo-Baroque decorations for the Royal Palace in Turin and the Quirinal Palace in Rome) in the medieval style, described as the "Lombard style of the 15th century," much in use in France and Savoy, the region of origin of the reigning sovereigns.
The exterior is clad in gray freestone from the quarries of Chiappey in Gressoney, Gaby and Vert (Donnas).

The ornamental paintings were done by the young painter and restorer Carlo Cussetti, later active in the new wing of the Royal Palace of Turin. The coffered ceilings, boiseries and medieval-inspired furnishings, on the other hand, are the work of Turin carver Michele Dellera, a supplier to the Royal House.
The castle has three floors: the first floor with the day rooms, the piano nobile with the royal apartments and the second floor (which cannot be visited), reserved for the gentlemen of the court; the basement houses the cellars. All of the furnishings displayed in the castle are authentic, as are the tapestries that adorn the walls, made of linen and silk fabric and decorated with a chiné effect.

 

 

Interno di Castel Savoia

Interno di Castel Savoia

The visit to the Castle

First floor: Guests enter a vast columned atrium. They then visit the dining room, with its richly painted decoration on the walls, fireplace and ceiling and lined with neo-Gothic style parchment carvings. The tour then unfolds through the semicircular veranda overlooking the valley and continues to the game room, with its original billiard table and sitting rooms.

Main floor: An elegant and majestic oak staircase carved with griffins and eagles leads to the royal apartments, preceded by an atrium on the ceiling of which one can read the augural inscription "Hic manebimus optime." Instead, the tour route reaches the second floor via the spiral staircase carved inside the guard tower. In the room reserved for the spiritual father who followed the royals on their vacations in Gressoney, there are several photographs on display depicting the Queen and her entourage during leisure moments in the mountains. We proceed next to the apartments intended for King Umberto I, in which other curious period photographs are admired. The Queen's apartment occupies the happiest position and is richly furnished with furniture in the eclectic style dear to her, coming in part from Villa Margherita, the dwelling that welcomed the Sovereign in the village in the years before the Castle was built; next to the room can be seen the bathroom, while on the opposite side, in the northern tower, opens a lovely boudoir, with faux painted drapes on the walls that recall the decoration of the baronial hall of the Issogne castle, and windows that allow one to contemplate the magnificent view of Monte Rosa and the entire valley. Finally, the room adjoining the Queen's is dedicated to Crown Prince Umberto II.

Curious facts

The sundial: made on the façade in 1922, it bears the augural words already recorded on a sundial in Cogne in 1915: " Sit patriae aurea quaevis" - "Let every hour be golden for the homeland." The wish, unfortunately, would not be fulfilled by the dramatic events that took place in Italy that very year
The kitchens: located in a building not far from the castle, they are connected to the dining room by an underground Decauville.
The botanical garden: opened in 1990 in the park at the foot of the manor, it consists of rock beds with botanical species typical of the alpine environment.
Other dependencies of the castle are the Villa Belvedere, originally used as a guest quarters and royal gendarmerie, and the small house known as Romitaggio Carducci, dedicated to the poet who was a devoted admirer and singer of the Queen.

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