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The Palazzo del Senato Sabaudo (the Senate of Savoy) is located in via Corte d’Appello 16. It was also the seat of the Camera dei Conti (Chamber of Accounts) and subsequently the Palace of Justice and seat of the Magistratura. The construction of this historical building took place in several phases.

Initially, in 1671, by order of Duke of Savoy Carlo Emanuele II, numerous houses were acquired in the area known as the “island of San Francesco Saverio.” These houses were intended for magistrates and to expand the existing prisons, which had been in place since the time of Emanuele Filiberto. The prison design was attributed to Amedeo di Castellamonte, but the actual construction, between 1672 and 1675, was carried out by Rocco Antonio Rubatto.

In 1720, Vittorio Amedeo II decided to construct a palace for the Senate on the part of the block not allocated to the prisons. The project was entrusted to the renowned architect Filippo Juvarra. However, in 1721, the works were suspended and resumed only in 1741 under the rule of Carlo Emanuele III. At that point, the architect Benedetto Alfieri took over the project.

Despite further interruptions in 1748 and 1788, the definitive completion occurred during the reign of Carlo Felice. The architect Ignazio Michela, with the young assistant Alessandro Antonelli, obtained approval for the final project in 1830. Eight years later, the Senate finally moved into the new palace. The old prisons were also relocated to the new premises in 1862.

Palace of Justice

Palace of Justice

The Palazzo del Senato later became the Palace of Justice. With the relocation of the latter to its new headquarters on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, it now houses the judicial offices of Turin and rooms for civil marriage ceremonies.

The imposing building occupies an entire block and was part of a broader neighborhood redevelopment project designed by Juvarra, which also included military quarters. The grand dimensions and the austere appearance of the entire structure served the authority of the administrative bodies that carried out their functions there.

Palace of Justice
Palazzo del Senato or Palace of Justice

Inside the Palace of Justice, there were courtrooms, offices, the executioner’s residence, and the gallows used for executing the condemned (kept in the underground chambers and assembled during executions). For a long time, until their relocation in 1862, the ancient prisons were also located in the underground areas.

The Palace of Justice was damaged during the bombings of 1942 but was restored and resumed its normal function two years later.

Historical trials at Palazzo del Senato

In these halls, all the famous trials of Turin have taken place. The most celebrated is probably the one involving the ‘Monster of Palazzo Paesana,’ while historically significant is likely the last death sentence. Of course, they were not the only ones.

The conspirancy

In 1647, the monk Giovanni Gandolfi, residing at the Consolata, published an astrological almanac predicting that the following year, the ‘Madama Reale’ (Royal Lady) would die. From his arrest and subsequent interrogations, it emerged that Senator Sillano had planned the murder using poison, only to resort to voodoo spells through a wax figurine.

Sillano was initially imprisoned in Palazzo Madama, with the unusual privilege of receiving meals prepared at home and delivered by a servant. Later, he was transferred to the prisons of the Senate Palace. There, he mysteriously died without ever being released.

A similar fate befell the monk, who seemingly died by strangulation in his cell

During the siege

During the siege of 1706, French prisoners were confined here, surviving on nothing but bread and water. Due to poor hygiene conditions, around sixty prisoners contracted dysentery. The stench emanating from the prison made it necessary to relocate Senate meetings (which were held in the same building) to the private residence of the Marquis Pallavicino.

The conspiracy against the king

In 1709, Giovanni Boccaloro, already detained in the prisons of the Senate Palace for an attempted murder of a tax collector, faced heavy accusations from another inmate. He was reported for creating a wax figurine used to cast malevolent spells against the king. Boccaloro was interrogated and ultimately sentenced to public penance in the square, followed by the application of red-hot pincers, hanging for three days, and dismemberment with the quarters displayed at the four gates of Turin, while his head adorned an infamous column. The rest of his body was burned.

Trial of 16 assassins

In the vicinity of Turin around 1850, the Pietro Artusio gang, known as the Vinattieri, primarily engaged in street theft during fairs and markets. It became possible to capture all the members of the gang thanks to the revelations of Pietro Artusio, who confessed and denounced his accomplices.

Portrait of the 16 assassins

The sentence issued in February 1850 imposed three death sentences and many years of imprisonment for the other members. During the public reading, a shot was fired directly at Pietro Artusio. A tumult ensued as the defendants rushed toward the assailant in retaliation. In the clashes, Pietro’s cousin, Vincenzo Artusio, who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison, also died from a gunshot wound.

For his cooperation, Pietro Artusio received favorable treatment, serving only 5 years of imprisonment instead of a lifetime of forced labor.

Pipino trial

In 1878, on the second floor of number 14 Via Lagrange, lived the 84-year-old physician Angelo Mustone. A wealthy man in good health, he disliked solitude and isolation, to the extent that he relied on the care and household duties performed by the young Lucia Magis, who was 25 years old. Lucia enjoyed absolute freedom; the elderly doctor did not impose any control on her. For example, it was known that she had a romantic relationship with a tailor who lived in the same building, and on Sunday afternoons, she liked to stroll through the city with her cousin.

Palace of Justice - Angelo Mustone
The doctor Angelo Mustone

Starting from September 8, no one saw Lucia and Angelo anymore. The porter repeatedly knocked on the door without receiving a response. Alarmed, he went to the doctor’s nephew to inquire about their whereabouts. The nephew contacted his sister in Pinerolo, but she hadn’t seen them either and knew nothing about their situation.

The police were called, and upon arriving at the scene, they broke down the door to make a gruesome discovery. Maria lay on the bed with a long throat wound, while Angelo Mustone was in the last room, covered in worms, and also had a terrible throat wound. The entire house was in disarray; it was clearly a burglary. From the outset, it seemed that there were two different murderers involved.

Palace of Justice - Lucia Magis
Lucia Magis

Brigadier Tommaso Bianchi immediately directed the investigation toward Lucia’s acquaintances. This led them to cousin Pipino Giovanni. Although all the evidence pointed to Pipino, no one bothered to verify whether there might be another murderer or an accomplice. Yet, the crime scene seemed to indicate that there had been at least two attackers.

The case caused a great stir and received extensive media coverage. The newspapers of the time described Lucia as follows:

Lucia Magis, whose blood flowed no less warmly than in all other women, and whose love itch was no less irresistible than that of her companions, spoke very intimately with the tailor and quite familiarly with her cousin during her free hours. We know how often cousins understand each other!

Palace of Justice - Giovanni Pipino
Giovanni Pipino

For the investigators, the solution was as simple as it was macabre. Pipino, facing financial difficulties and attracted by Dr. Mustone’s wealth, was allowed into the house by his cousin. After attacking and killing the old man, he went to bed with Lucia as her lover, only to surprise and assassinate her in her sleep.

The investigations and trial were quite superficial, and in the eyes of the public and the press, Pipino was the culprit from the beginning. Consequently, he was sentenced to death. Perhaps out of decency or because the circumstances and events were not entirely clarified, the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Pipino maintained his innocence throughout his life, and in the end, in 1901, his life sentence was changed to a transitional one.

Fracchia trial

Colonel Leone Fracchia married Mrs. Rosa Pavia in 1887. Later, he contracted typhoid, which apparently affected his mental balance, making him excessively jealous and leading to the collapse of their marital situation. Mrs. Pavia left the house, and the separation proceedings began. On January 20, 1897, the two spouses were summoned to the Palace of Justice at the office of the tribunal’s president, Cav. Adami, who was tasked with achieving an amicable settlement.

Only the three of them were present in the office. Adami attempted to reach an agreement in which Fracchia would provide a monthly pension to his wife. The colonel responded with the usual reproaches that his wife had already heard many times. She denied them, claiming they were figments of her husband’s imagination. At this point, Fracchia stood up, took his hands out of his pockets, and fired a gunshot at his wife’s head. He was arrested and confined to a cell (for which he paid in the Nuove prison). As he left the Palace of Justice, he turned to Cav. Adami with the following words: This is how a colonel becomes a murderer! Please forgive the disturbance, Mr. President.

Attack on the courthouse

On November 24, 1943, the trial against Carlo Boggio de Casero, a fascist squadrista accused of a murder that occurred in a tavern the previous year, was scheduled. The day before the trial, the defendant’s relatives asked Vicefederale Civitelli to postpone the proceedings. Civitelli agreed on the course of action with his superior, Solaro, and after contacting Prefect Zerbino, he obtained a promise of postponement.

However, on the agreed-upon day, Oliviero Turco, the vice-commander of the Federal Police (a corps created to defend the fascist party and composed of violent squadristi), arrived at the courthouse and found that the trial was about to begin. Turco immediately informed Solaro, adding that several subversive individuals who had previously threatened Boggio were among the witnesses. Solaro sent Commander Venturini with the Federal Police to summon the subversives to Casa Littoria.

Upon returning to the courtroom with some Federal Police officers, Venturini and Turco forcibly occupied the trial chamber, pointing their weapons at the judges and intimidating them to prevent the trial from commencing. The president protested, and threatening punishment, he ordered them to leave. The militiamen obeyed but closed the door from the outside, effectively holding hostage everyone inside.

Through contact with the Attorney General, the block was eventually lifted, ensuring the arrival of the vice federale in person to offer official apologies. Finally, the trial could proceed. An hour later, during a break, the vice federale appeared, indeed offering apologies but emphasizing the opportunity to postpone the trial.

As the trial moved into closed session, a group of armed men burst in, demanding the surrender of the carabinieri. After disarming the carabinieri, the small militia fired shots into the air and ordered the evacuation of the courtroom. Simultaneously, another contingent entered the closed session, forcibly clearing it under gunfire.

Everyone was pushed out toward Via Sant’Agostino. The defendant was taken outside against his will (ironically, Boggio wanted to be tried). Realizing what was happening, the marshal in charge of security entered the courtroom, triggering a new shootout, complete with hand grenade launches.

The attackers forced everyone out of the building, dispersing public officials and accompanying all the witnesses to Casa Littoria. Intimidated and threatened, they were coerced to testify in a manner consistent with the desired narrative during the next trial.

As a result of this incident, Mussolini replaced the Federal Police with the Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana

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