One of Italy's Top Ten Tourist Attractions is in Turin. The Venaria Palace is a really remarkable place, perhaps even bigger and more impressive than the Palace of Versailles.
It is quite incredible how hardly anyone outside of Italy has even heard of this amazing palace. Currently, most of the nearly one million tourists who visit the palace each year come from Italy.
Well just a few reasons are:
• A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• One of the largest palaces on earth.
• In every way as impressive as the Palace of Versailles.
• 80 hectares of beautiful gardens and 6000 hectares of parkland.
• 80,000 square meters of surface area.
• One of the loveliest palaces you will find anywhere - truly beautiful.
Venaria's Palace was built in the 17th century for Charles Emmanuel I, one of the Savoy kings. The idea was twofold: firstly, to build a palace that would serve as a legacy to him and his wife, and secondly, to have a "little" country lodge to use as a base on hunting trips and while away from the city, taking in the cleaner air to the north of Torino.
In the end, the palace just kept on growing as the power and wealth of the Savoy family increased.
After the Second World War, when the Italian royal family (effectively the Savoy Royal family) was sent into exile, the palace started to become neglected and fall into disrepair. However, in the 1970s, a project to restore the palace and its grounds to their former glory was begun.
The task was enormous, and the work was painstakingly difficult. This project was one of the largest ever undertaken anywhere in the world. The gardens alone saw nearly 11 million liters of water added to the artificial lake, and 40,000 new plants were brought in to restore the palace's gardens.
Finally, the palace opened to tourists for the first time in 2007, after around twenty years of restoration, and a fair bit of the palace is still undergoing restoration work.
Venaria Palace is regarded as a must-see attraction not only in Turin, but throughout Italy. Most experts regard it as more impressive than the Palace of Versailles.
You can get to Venaria easily from Turin, either by bus, train, or car. By bus, the GTT bus leaves from stop number 253 in Via Sacchi near the main station of Porta Nuova and takes thirty minutes.
By train, you need to leave from the Torino Dora train station and take the line for Ceres, which stops at Venaria; it takes only ten minutes or so.
If you have your own car, then take the Turin ring road and exit at Venaria.
One thing you shouldn't do when you visit the palace is to eat in the main street of Venaria - the one where the ticket office is and which leads into the palace entrance.
You will almost certainly NOT eat well and you will be ripped-off, in particular avoid the absolutely horrible Caffe Antica Reggia. I literally got peanuts when I asked for an apperitivo! With Turin being the world leader in the apperitivo THAT is unacceptable