In contrast to Sacra San Michele, this hunting lodge, built in the early 18th century for the Royal House of Savoy, is a riot of the Baroque on the exterior and filled with the excess of the Rococo in the interior. Palazzina literally translates as little palace but don’t let that fool you – 137 rooms and 17 galleries occupy 31,000 square metres and that is without counting the outbuildings and then there are the 150,000 square metres of the park.
Approaching the central hall that dominates the whole complex, the dome is topped by a sculpture of a stag that leaves the visitor in no doubt about the purpose of the building. Today what you see is a copy; the original is on display in the interior. The ground plan of the main building is laid out as a crux decussata or St. Andrew’s Cross, four arms of equal length in the shape of an X and where they cross is the central hall. This was the first part of the complex to be built and was designed by Filippo Juvarra, the architect of the overall project. This magnificent hall is topped by a dome whose interior is frescoed with a portrayal of the Triumph of Diana, the goddess of the hunt. Imbued by the sequence of convex and concave balconies at first floor level, the sense of movement in this room has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. The widows on either side of the long axis give imposing vistas along roads that seem to stretch to infinity, demonstrating the casual dominance of the owners over all their surroundings.
This is just the beginning of a whole sequence of rooms containing original furniture and fabulous frescoes and gilded stucco of amazing opulence. This was built by the royal family that went on to become kings of the united Italy and a chance to see this wonderful place should not be missed.