0 6 mins 2 weeks
Official Web site: Palazzo Carignano
Photos from Web

Piazza and Palazzo Carignano are located in the heart of the historic center, just a few steps from Via Roma and Piazza Castello. Built in complete Baroque style, it takes its name from the majestic palace of the same name.

The square was opened during the city’s expansion planned by Duke Vittorio Amedeo I of Savoy. The elegant palace, intended for Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia-Carignano, was erected starting in 1679 on what had been the stables of Prince Tommaso Francesco di Savoia. This project, entrusted to Guarino Guarini, included an elegant Baroque facade facing the square and a spacious private garden on the opposite side. The work continued until 1685, making this palace one of the most important buildings in Turin.

Over 150 years later, this square and palace witnessed some of the most significant events in the history of Turin and Italy.

Palazzo Carignano
Palazzo Carignano

Statuto Albertino

The Princes of Carignano were a cadet branch of the House of Savoy. They inherited the throne in 1831 upon the childless death of Charles Felix. However, as early as 1821, Charles Albert of Carignano, Charles Felix’s nephew, briefly ruled the throne due to his uncle’s military commitments in Novara. During this period, Turin witnessed violent revolutionary uprisings that led Charles Albert to grant a Constitution. Charles Felix was furious and swiftly returned to the city. He abolished the constitution and made his nephew promise never to grant a Constitution during his lifetime.

Even more intense revolutionary movements occurred again in 1848. Charles Albert, now effectively king, found himself under pressure once more and in a position to grant a Constitution. Despite his uncle having passed away several years earlier, he chose not to break his promise. He consented to issue a form of constitution known as the Statuto Albertino (Albertine statute), which was proclaimed directly from the palace balcony by the sovereign.

Extension of Palazzo Carignano and Unification of Italy

Starting from that moment, Turin played a crucial role in the process of Italian unification, during which Palazzo Carignano became the seat of the first Italian Parliament. In a short time, the Palazzo became too small to accommodate all the representatives from territories gradually coming under the control of Piedmont.

It was decided to extend the palace without altering its architecture significantly. The expansion was constructed identically to the existing structure, sacrificing the private garden and extending the palace internally.

Italian parliament
Photo by Vanda Portone

Even today, when crossing the courtyard, you can see where the two constructions merge. There is a noticeable difference in the color of the wall due to approximately 200 years separating the old and new parts.

During the expansion works, an enormous wooden structure was built within the courtyard to house the parliamentarians. On March 18, 1861, inside this structure, the official proclamation of the Unification of Italy took place. The palace expansion was completed in 1864, the same year the capital was transferred to Florence. Interestingly, the wing of the palace intended for the parliament was never used and remains a vast, empty space.

Inside the Palazzo, the original parliament from that era is preserved, complete with nameplates for the parliamentary seats (Cavour, Balbo, etc.). The Parliament is part of the Museo del Risorgimento visit.

Piazza Carignano

In Piazza Carignano, you’ll also find the Ristorante il Cambio, the most famous and expensive restaurant in the city. It takes its name from the place where horses were changed for carriages.

Paalzzo Carignano
Piazza Carignano

Cavour loved dining at this restaurant, sitting at a table near a window overlooking the square. In case of emergencies at the Palazzo, one of his collaborators would go out onto the palace balcony, waving a handkerchief. Cavour would see it and immediately rush to the Palazzo. The restaurant still preserves Cavour’s favorite table.

On the opposite side, you’ll find Bar Pepino. Famous for inventing what the elderly in Turin still call “Pinguino”: it’s nothing other than the better-known ice cream cone. The true innovation was that this was the first ice cream designed for strolling.

Indiani americani a Palazzo Carignano

The Carignano family, with a small army supporting the French, participated in the conquest of America. In Canada (Quebec), there is a small town named Carignan in honor of this noble house.

America India on the window

The Carignano family also wanted to commemorate their American adventure by incorporating stylized Native American faces onto the palace. We are in the 1600s, so there were no photographs, only descriptions from those who returned. Nevertheless, you can recognize these Native American ornaments on the first-floor windows