On the border between Roero and Monferrato, Govone stands on a hilltop overlooking the wide Tanaro valley. The pride and symbol of this village is its castle, which UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site last year.
The imposing structure was built by the Solaro counts, lords of Govone. The southern façade was designed by Guarino Guarini, its northern counterpart by Benedetto Alfieri, pupil of Filippo Juvarra.
The southern façade is richly decorated with marble sculptures from Venaria, added by the Count of Solaro in the mid-18th century. In 1792, with the death of the last count and no direct male heirs, the castle and its estate were transferred to the Royal House of Savoy.
Three years later, Victor Amadeus III of Savoy King of Sardinia handed it to his sons Charles Felix Duke of Genevois and Giuseppe Maria Benedetto Placido Count of Moriana. Under the rule of France the Savoys sought refuge in Sardinia and the castle was abandoned and looted. It was then bought by the Alfieri counts of San Martino, who saved it from ruin, with the intent of handing it back to the Savoy family. The castle was eventually sold for a token price to Charles Felix, who became the sole owner (his brother had died in Sassari).
The present-day baroque building, bordered by gardens and a vast English-style park, was designed by the Solaro counts. It was renovated by the Savoys in the 1820s and became the favourite summer residence of the King of Sardinia, Charles Felix and his wife Marie Christine of Bourbon.
The renovations carried out under the guidance of architects Giuseppe Cardone and Michele Borda and completed in 1825, mainly focused on modernising the park and the interior, which was already decorated with precious Chinese wallpaper. The central hall has a striking series of chiaroscuro frescoes painted by Luigi Vacca and Fabrizio Sevesi depicting the myth of Niobe. The mythological paintings decorating the royal apartments are the work of Carlo Pagani and Andrea Piazza.
Charles Felix died in 1831 without issue so that the next in line to the throne was Charles Albert, a member of the Savoy-Carignano branch of the family. When his widow Marie Christine died, in 1849, Govone passed to Ferdinand Duke of Genoa, who had the belvedere built on the roof.
In 1870 the castle and estate were sold to a private buyer. In 1897 the castle was handed over to the municipal authorities and some of its interior furnishings were put up for auction.
The Church of the Holy Spirit (1767) is an artistic gem. When the Savoy family arrived in Govone it became the royal chapel and they built a passage joining it to the castle. The vault was decorated by Giuseppe Morgari, who was assisted by Pagani and Piazza. In the narrow alley around the castle walls is the house where Jan Jacques Russeau lived in Govone.
THE CASTLE NOW
The Royal Castle of Govone is one of the Piedmontese Savoy residences, which UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) designated as World Heritage Sites in December 1997.
CASTELLO REALE DI GOVONE
Piazza Roma, 1
12040 Govone (CN)
on SATURDAYS (from April 1st to October 28th, 2017) and on SUNDAYS (from April 2nd to October 29th, 2017)
on Saturdays: not-guided tour; on Sundays: guided tour
10-12, 15-18 (April - May - June - September - October) last admission h11:30/17:30;
10-12, 16-19 (July - August) last admission h11:30/18:30.
Full price 5 euros; reduced 4 euros (over 65, groups made up of more than 20 people); free (up to 14-years-old children).
Tel: +39 0173 58103
Fax: +39 0173 58103