Italian Unification was the political and social movement know as il Risorgimento (the Resurgence). The movement attempted to unite Italy under one flag. Italy was officially united into a nation state on March 17th, 1861. On this day, Vittorio Emanuele II, the King of Piedmont-Sardinia proclaimed the birth of a new Italian Kingdom in Turin.
This day has been declared a national holiday and many of Italy’s museums and monuments will be free. In Rome, there will be fireworks and concerts. Milan is celebrating with a free concert and Palermo will have a parade at Villa Trabia.
Turin is the largest city in the region of Piedmont and it was historically under Austro-Hungarian domination. Piedmont is located between the Alps and the Po Valley with soaring peaks and charming vined-cloaked hilly landscapes. It is the home of Italian auto maker FIAT www.turismotorino.org.
Turin was Italy‘s first capital. Her piazzas, palaces and churches are brimming with the remnants of the powerful House of Savoy. The amazing residences of the Royal House of Savoy are UNESCO World Heritage sites. They were inscribed in 1997 and include the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Armory, the Library and Stables.
When Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy, moved his capital to Turin in 1562 he began a series of buiding projects. These projects were continued by his successors to demonstrate the power of the ruling house. The Savoy complex of buildings radiates from the Royal Palace in Turin to many country residences and hunting lodges in the surrounding countryside.
“These architectural masterpieces represent a comprehensive overview of European monumental architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries. These structures embody distinctive grandiose style and grace; depicting the prevailing doctrine of absolute monarchs.” UNESCO
In 2011, Turin celebrates 150 years of unification with special events in many regional cultural venues. Turin has more than 40 museums including the National Museum of the Risorgimento, the Egyptian Museum and the Automobile Museum.
Prior to March 17, 1861, Italy was divided into small city-states ruled by other countries like Spain and Austria. In 1861, Italy won her independence following the Risorgimento aided by Garibaldi’s military prowess. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed and Torino became the capital of the new kingdom.
Italian sports teams wear Azzurro Blue (azure), the official color of the House of Savoy. At national sporting events, the Italians chant “Forza Azzurri” which means “Go Blue.” Here’s the soccer team in their Azzurro uniforms “Italia Championi del Mondo” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGiuX82im2s&feature=related
Visit the Pinocoteca dell’Accademia Albertina with eight rooms of fine arts and the Galleria Sabauda for Renaissance art. Bellini, Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi masterpieces are housed in these galleries.
The original Holy Shroud (Sacra Sindone) of Turin is kept in Turin’s Duomo in a silver casket inside a marble coffer. The replica is available for viewing. Carbon testing in the late 1980’s indicated that the shroud dates back to the 12th century; this invalidates the original theory of the shroud.
Events in the Province of Turin:
The life of “Vittorio Emanuele II: The Gentleman King” will be highlighted with documents, pictures and artifacts in three locations in the province of Turin. Castle Racconigi, the location of his wedding to Archduchess Maria Adelaide of Hapsburg-Lorraine, will display the legend of ”children and families.” In the Gallery of the Shroud of Turin in Palazzo Reale, battle highlights of the Risorgimento will be exhibited.
Turin was the Hollywood of Italy. The “Zombies, Vampires, Mummies and Ghosts” Exhibit at the Museo Nazionale del Cinema on Via Montebello will portray stories of the living dead until January 9th.
On December 31st, the Turin Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrated 150 years of unification with music by Strauss.
Holiday Events in Turin:
1. Mercatino di Natale on Via Roma in Turin
2. Presepi da Gustare on December 11th in Comune di Venaus
3. Mercatino di Fine Anno in Centro Storico of Oulx on December 30th
4. Mercatini di Natale in Comune di Sestrieve on December 18 and 19
5. Fiera Regionale del Bovino da Carne in Carmagnola December 10-12
6. Cioccolatorrino in Bardonecchi at Piazza delle Stretta on January 4th
7. Il Bosco Incantato on Vie del Borgovecchio December 27th thru January 6th
Additional holiday events in Piedmont:
In Alagna, admire the Ice Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve
The Bonfire Celebration in Roatto on Christmas Eve
The torchlight re-enactment of Christmas Eve in Schierano
The “Living Nativity Scene” in Cessole and Maranzana on Christmas Eve
The cafes in Piazza San Carlo present perfect “Vino con Vista” opportunities. Sip wine and enjoy tasty agnolotti (ravioli) and tajarin all’uovo pasta. Your Moscato d’Asti will be served under a fabulous Murano glass chandelier.
King Vittorio Emanuele II would have probably preferred a glass of Barolo wine produced from Nebbiolo grapes to celebrate the unification of Italy. Try a glass of Barbaresco with some agnolotti filled with ricotta or stewed meat and garnished with white truffles. Another regional specialty is Oca alla Piedmontese.
In Piedmont, Barolo the “King of Wines”, Barbara and Barbaresco come from the vineyards of Langhe close to Liguria. This area is one of the most prestigious red wine producers in Italy. More interesting red wines from Piedmont include Premetta, Torette, Pinot Noir and Petit Rouge. Brachetto d’Acqui, sweet Moscato d’Asti and sparkling Spumante are also produced here. The Provencia di Asti is located in the Piedmont region.
My absolute favorite everyday Italian wine is Barbera. It is produced in the town of Alba, which is also famous for white truffles. Barbera d’Alba is fruity and lighter than Barolo. Dolcetto d’Alba is also quite appealing. Most Italian wine lovers prefer the region’s prestigious Barolo.
The Buon Ricordo options in the Piedmont Region include:
1. Ristorante Torino in Alessandria at Via A. Vochieri 108 (www.bioristorantetorino.it). The signature dish is an extraordinary Rabbit with Peppers and is shown on the charming collector plate.
2. Ristorante La Contea in Neive at Piazza Cocito, 8 (www.la-contea.it) offers a Piedmonte calf-tail braised in Barbaresco with a charming collector plate showing a cow’s tail wrapped around a glass of red wine. The restaurant is located in the center of town in the picturesque village of Langhe.
To leatn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.comTravel Guides and
- 24 Hours in Turin (hotelclub.com)