CASTELLO DI MASINO LIBRARY – CARAVINO, TORINO
Castello di Masino Library – Caravino, Torino
More than a thousand years of the history of Piemonte, and indeed of Italy, are conserved in a fairy-tale royal palace nestling amid immense and wonderful English-style 19thcentury grounds. Castello di Masino – the residence for ten centuries of the Earls of Valperga, the supposed descendents of King Arduino – dominates the panorama of the Canavese area, and its interiors are embellished by rich ornamentation and breathtaking frescos.
The multi-layered features of the 30 monumental rooms in the Castle are the fruits of centuries of changing tastes in decor and furnishings. The grand halls (with their sumptuous 17th- and 18thcentury frescos), the Ambassadors’ Rooms, the separate living quarters and the Apartment of Madama Reale (Christine Marie of France) all tell the tale of the family whose members were the protagonists of Piedmontese and Italian history. One of the most interesting parts of the Castle is the Ballroom, where the large windows allow the interior to come harmoniously face-to-face with the exterior, and where the walls feature trompe l’oeil frescos with theatrical curtains that open into 18th-century Arcadian landscapes, complemented in the cupola by delightful architectural perspectives. Damasks, collections of miniatures, 17th-century portraits of “beautiful ladies” in splendid oval cornices, velvet armchairs surrounding period tables, lavish console tables and delightful pottery all combine to make the “Red Living Room” a great example of the original ambience of Castello di Masino, and it has been painstakingly preserved by FAI. The nearby Palazzo delle Carrozze plays host to the extensive collection of 18th- and 19th-century coaches.
Restoration of the Library
The Library of Tommaso Valperga di Masino, abbot of Caluso, brother of the viceroy of Sardinia, Carlo II Valperga di Masino, was designed and realized at the end of the 1700s. It is an important example of the Italian Neoclassic style in particular represented by the decorations adorning the library’s walls. A restoration project was undertaken to correct the serious damage caused by humidity to the library’s plaster walls. In addition to the renovations necessary to return the library to its original splendor, several other important safety measures had to be taken so that the room could be accessible to the public. These included updating the electrical system and installing a sprinkler system. The Library still contains the original and rare collection of more than 20,000 volumes. The project also involved the restoration of many of these volumes after years of exposure to humidity.