Villa della Regina (literally, the Queen’s Villa) is a sumptuous baroque residence built in the first few decades of the 17th century by Cardinal Maurizio of Savoy, who entrusted the project to architect Ascanio Vitozzi. It was one of the residences Napoleon visited in Turin, between April and May 1805.
Bonaparte stopped in the city with his wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, on his way to Milan – where a few weeks later, on May 26th, he was proclaimed king of Italy during a pompous ceremony held at the Duomo. Legend has it that on that occasion, the Corsican emperor took the ancient iron crown that had sat on the heads of Lombard and Frank kings, and pronounced the famous “God gave it to me, woe to him who touches it!”.
Turin welcomed him with extraordinary honors: all the authorities paid homage to him and a grand ball was held in celebration, creating a raised, wooden hall at the City Hall palace for the occasion.
The future king of Italy had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Savoy villa, including its amphitheater-shaped Italian garden and the striking “Grand Rondeau” (a wonderful elliptical square). He stopped to admire the frescoes and paintings in the building’s main hall, created by artists of the 17th and 18th centuries like Corrado Giaquinto.
Villa della Regina, with other Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.