Castel Savoia, Gressoney-Saint-Jean

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Castel Savoie (French: Château Savoie) is a 19th-century eclectic-style villa located in Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Aosta Valley.


Queen Margherita desired to have a home built for herself on the slope of the valley below Colle Ranzola, where there is a wide view of the valley and the peaks of Monte Rosa, after spending several vacations at Villa Margherita, the home of Baron Beck Peccoz, since 1889. Queen Margherita managed to obtain permission to construct her vacation home at an elevation of 1,440 m despite some opposition from Umberto I, who preferred to stay in the Castle of Sarre for extended hunting expeditions. Emilio Stramucci, who had previously worked on the renovation of the Royal Palace and other Savoy residences, had designed the residence.

King Umberto I was assassinated in Monza in 1900 by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci, before construction was finished in 1904. Although the foundation stone was laid in the summer of 1899, the monarch never stayed at the castle because of his assassination.

Stairway and Music Room, Castello di Savoia at Gressoney (source)

Up until 1925, Queen Margherita, who had recently lost her husband and was reduced to serving as only the queen mother, spent extended periods of time there entertaining notable figures from the literary community, including the poet Giosuè Carducci and her devoted nephew, the young Prince of Piedmont Umberto II.

The castle was abandoned for a while following Queen Margherita’s passing in Bordighera in 1926, while she was spending the winter in Villa Margherita. It was then sold to Milanese businessman Ettore Moretti in 1936, who preserved it virtually entirely. In 1981, his heirs sold the castle to the Valle d’Aosta Autonomous Province.

Despite being referred to as a “castle,” the structure is actually a sizable, three-story residence with five neo-Gothic towers that are decorated in an eclectic manner. The sovereign, who frequently directly contributed to the progress of the work, made the mixing of styles a clear request.

Queen Margaret's Bed, Savoy Castle
Queen Margaret’s Bed, Savoy Castle

Despite the building’s austerity and significant use of local rocks, its alternation of architectural modules, abundance of windows, mullioned windows, three-mullioned windows, and range of styles give it a somewhat uniform and harmonious aspect. The three-story building has a rectangular shape and five different-sized neo-Gothic towers, one of which is octagonal. The central tower, which is the tallest, has a covered terrace with a cusped roof and dormers that gives the Royal Carabiniers a view of the entire property. They are all crowned with distinctive spires.

The dining room, the game room with a pool table, a few couches, the spacious semicircular veranda, and the hall of honor with the fine oak staircase with a double semicircular ramp are all located on the ground floor. It is the creation of Turin carver Michele Dellera, along with the furniture, wall boiseries, and wooden coffered ceilings that are richly adorned with floral motifs and Savoy symbols that explicitly reference the sovereign’s very name. Carlo Cussetti, another supplier to the Royal House, created the wall paintings and the patterns for the linen and silk fabric upholstery.

The private residences of Queen Margherita, her son Victor Emmanuel III, her daughter-in-law Queen Elena, and her grandson Umberto II are located on the main level. Marquise Paola Pes di Villamarina was given a smaller room.

While the basement serves as a wine cellar, the second level still has a few guest rooms and access to the highest tower’s covered patio.

The absence of kitchens, which the queen herself planned to have built outside the building, approximately thirty meters away, in the building that has served as the ticket office and visitor restrooms since 1981, is one oddity that sets this apartment apart. An underground tunnel with a double Decauville track was used to connect the kitchens with the food delivery system. The courses traveled their short distance on specialized electric trolleys that were hermetically sealed to an internal elevator that brought the meals straight to the castle dining room.

Featured image: wikipedia


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