Visit Casotto Castle: discover the Savoy palace




Overview of the exterior of the Casotto Castle, in Garessio

Discovering the Ligurian Riviera

Visit Casotto Castle: discover the Savoy palace




December 30, 2023

Situated at an altitude of 1,090 metres in the Garessio valleys, Casotto Castle reveals a fascinating history spanning centuries of change. Founded as a Carthusian monastery in the 12th century, the castle underwent various transformations, reaching its peak in the 19th century when it was used as a hunting lodge by the Savoy family.
After a period of closure, the Piedmont Region carried out restoration work, reopening the castle's doors to visitors. A visit to Casotto Castle offers the opportunity to explore the royal flats, the chapel and the bell tower, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the various stages of its history.

How to get to Casotto Castle

 

Casotto Castle is located about 80 km from Agriturismo Le Girandole. We recommend a visit both to those who decide to stay in our holiday flats in Diano Marina, and to those coming from lower Piedmont or Turin. To get there, head towards Imperia, then take the SS28 to Garessio. From here, turn left and take the SP178 for about 17 km.
The road is smooth and, once you reach your destination, there is ample parking right outside the castle.

Exterior of Casotto Castle

The history of Casotto Castle

 

The ancient core of the architectural complex, today known as Casotto Castle, originated in the late Middle Ages as the site of one of the first Carthusian monasteries in Italy. Founded by St Bruno of Cologne, the monastery was distinguished by its search for a 'desertum', an isolated mountain area ideal for practising extreme monasticism with limited social interaction. The atmosphere of peace and serenity that one breathes today is a reflection of the surrounding greenery, enriched by centuries-old pine and beech trees.
The Charterhouse has undergone considerable transformations over the centuries. The current structure, built mainly between the 16th century and 1770 by architect Bernardo Antonio Vittone, shows a mix of architectural styles. However, the church of Santa Maria, located in the correria building, retains a magnificent example of medieval architecture.
The acquisition by Charles Albert of Savoy in the 19th century transformed the original agricultural destination into a summer residence and hunting lodge. King Victor Emmanuel II, Carlo Alberto's successor, led the process of adapting the spaces, with architect Carlo Sada at the helm of the reconstruction of the north wing. The Casotto Castle, part of the Savoy Residences circuit, emerges as an important historical testimony, strategically positioned as the southernmost residence in Piedmont.

The access road to the Castello di Casotto in Garessio

The transformation of the Castle under Savoy rule

 

When the House of Savoy acquired the remains of the ancient Carthusian Monastery, the first move was an extensive reconstruction. Unfortunately, the part of the monastery itself, already heavily scarred by time and looting, was left out in this process and fell into ruin. In contrast, the area in front, including the chapel and guest quarters, was completely restored and is still open for visits today. The castle remained in the ownership of the royal family from 1837 to 1881, when it was sold to private owners.
The work of transforming it into a summer residence and hunting lodge began with Charles Albert, but it was his successor, Victor Emmanuel II, together with his five children, who brought the residence to life. These included Maria Clotilde, Umberto (Crown Prince), Amedeo (Duke of Aosta and later King of Spain), Oddone and Maria Pia (future Queen of Portugal).

Corridors of Casotto Castle

Orphaned at a very young age by their mother, Marie Clotilde of Savoy  lovingly guided her siblings to Casotto, where they spent most of their youthful holidays. During the many hunting holidays, the gallant King, known for his love of nature, hunting and good wine, was often accompanied by 'La bela Rosin', the woman of humble origins whom he married first religiously and then morganatically.
The Savoy family's stay at Casotto Castle, which lasted just over forty years, witnessed one of the most famous episodes of the Italian Risorgimento and helped to define Maria Clotilde as a figure of great importance. Inheriting from her mother an innate gentleness and deep religious devotion, Marie Clotilde, at the age of twelve, faced the responsibility of raising her younger siblings and the role of first lady of the court with extraordinary serenity and maturity.
The diary written in French by the young princess was a valuable source for the reconstruction of life at the castle, documenting not only the significant events, but also the thoughts and feelings of the princess during a crucial period in Italian history and the history of Casotto itself.

Guided tour of Casotto Castle

 

The guided tour takes you through the rooms of Casotto Castle, allowing you to immerse yourself in the history of the ancient residence, steeped in memories, and highlighting its magnificence and elegance.

One of the rooms in Casotto Castle

The Art Gallery and the Crown Prince's Room

 

From the staircase on the left, one enters the spacious corridor on the first floor, which serves as a setting for an extraordinary picture gallery. The paintings, from the Daniel Gallery of the Royal Castle of Turin and from the Castle of Agliè, depict figures linked to the House of Savoy, mythology and antiquity. The room of the Crown Prince, Umberto I, located at the far end of the left wing, stands out for its brightness and beauty. The four-poster bed, the porcelain service and the 'canned' sitting room highlight the elegance of this space.

 

The princess rooms and the mystery of the 'Lady in Fierce'

 

Passing through the rooms of Princess Clotilde, one reaches the room of Princess Marie Clotilde, with a rare Piedmontese Baroque bed. The room is richly decorated with embroideries made personally by the princess. The room also reveals the presence of personal items, such as the baptismal torch and kneeler. The music room, with a fascinating painting of the 'Lady in Fierce', divides the princesses' rooms. The period tapestry is a rarity, one of the first in paper made in France and imported.Continuing on, one discovers the chamber of the lady-in-waiting, Madamigella Camilla di Foras, with details such as the wrought-iron chandelier, and the chamber of Princess Maria Pia. The dining room, with a long sober table, offers a view of the Piazza Castello in Turin according to an old design by Antonelli. Also not to be missed is the room of the beautiful Rosin, with its four-poster bed and a Japanese silk embroidered screen.

The room of Princess Marie Clotilde of Savoy

King Victor Emmanuel II's room and the royal kitchen

 

King Victor Emmanuel II's room is adorned with the flag of the kingdom and paintings from the 1600s. The billiard room, with a perfectly preserved billiard table, displays period games such as dominoes and cards. Through the windows of the corridor, the ruins of the old church and bell tower can be glimpsed. The right staircase leads to the King's kitchen, a fascinating room with details such as antique branches stamped with the royal coat of arms, a large fireplace, a bread oven and other elements that tell of a distant, almost fairytale era.

The chamber of King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy

 

The Chapel

 

The atrium, between the arrivals of the access stairs, opens up to the entrance of the Chapel, a work by Vittone, still consecrated today. The church underwent changes commissioned by the Savoys, who transformed the side chapels into royal tribunes and added monolithic columns of 'breccia di Casotto'. The floor and vault paintings, the work of Abbot Giuseppe Peroni of Parma, contribute to a sacred and fascinating ambience.

Exit from the castle of Casotto

Tickets, opening hours and guided tours

 

To visit Casotto Castle, it is essential to book a guided tour through the official Kalatà website. The visit has a limited number of visitors, so it is highly recommended to book in advance to avoid the risk of not being able to access the castle. The opening of the castle may be discontinuous. The first available dates for 2024 are 7 and 14 January, 11 February and 10 March.

The duration of the visit was about 1 hour 15 minutes, but longer visits (4h 30 min) are also indicated on the Kalatà site, depending on the type of route chosen. Ticket prices vary according to the type of visit selected.

 

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