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8 Agosto 2019

August in Piedmont: culture and nature outside the city

Ancient castles, natural swimming pools and canyons: surprising destinations just a few kilometers from Turin

Fabio Gusella (translation by Lorenzo Bijno)


The Goja del Pis (Almese)

Will you be spending your summer in the city? Don’t worry: in addition to the many attractions and destinations outside the city such as Moncalieri, Rivoli, Stupinigi and Venaria, Piedmont offers some surprises a few miles away. Here is a survival kit with which we recommend some places – some more famous, some less – to spend the summer, which will certainly be hot but not boring.
For lovers of culture and art, our kit includes visits to ancient castles and royal towns; for those who are more interested in exploring nature, however, we would like to offer a refreshing journey away from the crowded city swimming pools, i.e. in the clear water of some natural pools surrounded by our valleys.

Let’s start with the castles, and we must mention Santena, an eighteenth-century villa, which once housed the Piedmontese count and statesman Camillo Benso. The residence houses magnificent antique interiors as well as a library full of ancient documents and is surrounded by a park designed by landscape architect Xavier Kurten.
Continuing south we enter the province of Cuneo, where we find the Castle of Govone: a former medieval fortress and residence of Carlo Felice, the castle still retains its Baroque appearance and boasts a beautiful Italian garden.
In the province of Cuneo there is also the famous Racconigi Castle: originally a medieval fortress, it became a country residence in the late seventeenth century by the will of Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy and thanks to Architect Guarino Guarini’s genius.
Approaching Barolo, we then find the brick-red Royal Estate of Pollenzo (a hamlet of the municipality of Bra), which was an important agricultural company founded by Carlo Alberto, who also commissioned the adjacent neo-Gothic village and the surrounding gardens designed by Architect Kurten.
North of Turin, on the other hand, there are other two famous castles: the Ducal Castle of Agliè and the Castle of Masino in Caravino. The former is a treasure trove with over 300 richly furnished rooms, all decorated to suit the taste of the time. The latter, a manor on a hill overlooking the vast Canavese plain, belonged for centuries to the local noble family of Valperga, before being purchased by the FAI (the National Trust of Italy) in 1988. The manor boasts halls, frescoes, richly furnished rooms, panoramic terraces, an ancient library treasuring more than 25 thousand volumes and it is also home to the Museum of Carriages, which is located inside its eighteenth-century stables. Around the manor lies a vast and elegant park, with one of the largest labyrinths in Italy.

For those wishing to find some peace and quiet in the midst of nature, we recommend the many natural parks that surround the Piedmontese lakes: Lake Sirio, for instance, is one of the Five Lakes of the Serra di Ivrea, with both equipped and free beaches; furthermore, about forty kilometers from Turin, there is a large natural park surrounding Lake Candia, which is teeming with wonderful water birds and is famous for its blooming, multicolored water lilies. For the sportier, rowing or motor boats are available both for amateur fishermen and tourists.
Our summer kit also includes the lakes of Avigliana, whose natural park shines with its wildlife and flowers. If, on the other hand, you fear the humidity of the lakes as much as the heat of the city, we recommend that you take a refreshing dip in Bobbio Pellice’s “Tumpi” or, if you prefer, in the Goja del Pis. The “tumpi” are deep water pools that have formed over time along the Guichard stream; however, they are quite suitable for visitors to dive, since the rocks that surround them work perfectly as natural trampolines. The Goja del Pis – the “pool of the waterfall” – is located in the municipality of Almese, a few kilometers from Turin. In this case, the “architect” of the pool is the Messa river, which over the years has dug more than one small lake in the area.
Finally, to the amazement of those who were convinced that the canyons were only American, we recommend visiting the Antigorio Valley, where there are a series of gorgles under the name of Orridi di Uriezzo: emerged at the end of the last ice age and carved into the granite by streams which once flowed downstream, these gorges are now drained and can be walked through. For more information about the gorges that can currently be visited, please consult the official website of the Mountain Community of the Ossola Valleys.

Summer in the city, therefore, can be an opportunity to discover how many gems our region treasures, just beyond the Mole.


In collaboration with Study in Torino


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