Postcard from Turin, Italy: A royal villa with a Chinese accent

The tastes of the royals of the House of Savoy required numerous elegant residences for retreats and entertaining around the outskirts of Turin. Vigna, a villa and vineyard, was built on a rise on the other side of the River Po for a cardinal who was the brother of Victor Emanuele I (1587-1637).

In 1684, the estate was inherited by Anne Marie d’Orleans (1669-1728), a niece of King Louis XIV (1638-1715) of France. Eager to maintain and strengthen the French influence over the House of Savoy, Louis XIV earlier had arranged for his 14-year-old niece to marry the young duke, Victor Amadeus II (1666-1732). Victor Amadeus II already was struggling to wrench control from the French-born acting regent, his mother, Maria Christina (1606-1663). While the marriage proved lasting, the King of France sometimes found the Duke of Savoy allying himself with the opposing side on the battlefields of Europe.

After Anne Marie and Victor Amadeus II became the Queen and King of Sardinia, the palace became known as Villa della Regina. The royals’ favored architect, Filippo Juvarra (1678-1736), undertook the conversion of the villa into a more palatial retreat for the queen. The Chinoiserie decorations in vogue following King Louis XIV’s incorporation of them in the Trianon at Versailles took over numerous rooms in the palace.

Victor Emanuele II (1820-1878) donated Villa della Regina to the state of Italy in 1868.

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