A Baroque Gem: Villa Della Tesoriera

If you want an off-the-beaten-path experience in Turin, it’s well worth a visit to the Villa Della Tesoriera.

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Built in 1715 for the Savoy Councilor of State and general treasurer, Aymo Ferrero di Cocconato, this country villa started its life as a place for entertaining and hunting. Over the course of 300 years, it has been owned by a broker, multiple lawyers, a duke, and a famous entomologist. It has been occupied by the French (who used it as a barracks) and by the Nazis (who looted it). As the city has grown, it has served as a home, a school, and now a public music library.

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But while you can study, listen to, and record music here, the real attraction for an out-of-town visitor are the fantastic baroque paintings and plasterwork. From the minute you enter the building you are greeted by welcoming cherubs:

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In what is now the children’s room of the library, complete with Siamese cats prowling the shelves …

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… you can sit and read beneath the panoply of Roman gods:

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One whole room is dedicated to the light of Apollo … 

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… while another calms you with the silence of Diana:

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But the real joy here is in studying the trompe l’oeil, trying to figure out where plasterwork ends and the painting begins.

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It’s masterful technique, and I often had to study closely to tell the real plasterwork from the fake.

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The Savoy elite of the early 1700s loved a good optical illusion, so there are many fake windows …

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… including one with a “curtain” …

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… several with “scenery” outside …

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… and even a few fake skylights:

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Each of the rooms here offers something special, but grand dame is the ballroom,  now used as the building’s concert hall.

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It’s a sumptuous space.

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Everything is spectacular here, from the ceiling …

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… to the murals on the walls …

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… to the Muses that watch over the doorways:

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The doors elsewhere in the villa are equally lovely — many return to the trompe l’oeil theme in their frames …

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… and some offer hand-painted panels:

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There is evidence everywhere that this is a working, functional building — not a museum:

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And while much of the artwork has been lovingly restored, a few rooms have suffered from lack of funding for this work (one of the librarians explained that they’ve just had to spring for a new roof, so the money set aside to preserve the artwork has all been spent).

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The villa was expanded twice, once in 1846 and again in the 1930s — so not all of the art on the walls is Baroque.

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My guide said that this painting style is called “Pompeian” — and while it feels a little light for the richness of the building, I think it still has its own charm.

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Less charming — but fun in an anachronistic sort of way — was the exhibit of Pink Floyd albums and memorabilia in an unadorned second floor room:

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A visit to Villa Della Tesoriera is entirely free — it’s a public library — but I went to see the villa as part of an Airbnb Experience, which was worth every penny. Having a guide here (and possible access to semi-secret back rooms) made this a really special visit. We wandered both the villa itself and the extensive grounds (not so picturesque in January, but well used by dog walkers), and I had a great time!

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One response to “A Baroque Gem: Villa Della Tesoriera

  1. Pingback: 11 Fun Things to Do in Turin | Traveler Tina·

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