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The Palazzo degli Stemmi, located approximately halfway along Via Po on the left side as you descend toward the river, has a fascinating history.

The first half of the 1600s was a challenging period for Turin. It was marked by internal political wars, civil uprisings, religious conflicts, and even famines. Not to mention the 1630 plague, which claimed the lives of over 70% of the population.

Carlo Emanuele II ascended to the throne in 1663 under unfavorable conditions. He immediately faced issues such as a lack of public funds and a large number of poor and beggars in the city.

To address these challenges, Carlo Emanuele II decided to establish the Ospizio di Carità (Charity Hospice) to provide shelter for the sick, poor, and beggars. The hospice changed locations several times until 1682, when Vittorio Amedeo II, son of Carlo Emanuele II, planned to expand the city toward the river and decided to give it a permanent location.

Construction

The location was identified in an old building outside the city walls, which had previously been used for horse-drawn postal services. However, economic recovery was not yet complete, and there were not many funds available for construction. Vittorio Amedeo turned to the bourgeoisie and nobility for support. He promised that those who funded the project could place their family emblem on the façade of the palace.

Construction began in 1683 and was completed in 1697, based on the design by Amedeo di Castellamonte. The coat of arms of the Savoy Family is located above the main entrance arch, at the center of the sequence.

Palazzo degli Stemmi
The coat of arms of the House of Savoy (1716) is situated among the allegorical statues of Faith and Charity.

Above the other arches, we find the coats of arms of other noble families, totaling 24 heraldic emblems, in addition to those of the House of Savoy and two emblems representing the city of Turin.

In 1716, Vittorio Amedeo II prohibited begging in the city streets. He ordered that all the poor be accommodated at the Ospizio di Carità (Charity Hospice) by April 7. On that day, a banquet was set up in Piazza Castello, attended by 800 poor individuals directly served by the royal pages.

By the late 1800s, the hospice was relocated to its current location on Corso Unione Sovietica. Consequently, starting from 1896, this building was dedicated to the first public screenings of the Lumière Cinematograph. The Palace later became part of the University of Turin, a function it still serves today.

In 1984, during restoration work, a collapse occurred that destroyed the entire building except for the façade with the coats of arms and the historic pharmacy.

Farmacia degli Stemmi

The Farmacia degli Stemmi (Pharmacy of the Coats of Arms) operated within the Ospizio (Hospice) since 1692. However, as indicated by the inscription at the entrance, it was only opened to the public in 1732, finding its current location under the arcades of Via Po, within the Palazzo degli Stemmi.

In 1886, with the relocation of the Ospizio to Corso Unione Sovietica, the pharmacy was sold to private individuals. Miraculously surviving the collapse of the palace in 1984, the pharmacy was the last establishment to close and the first to reopen in 1987.

Palazzo degli Stemmi
Farmacia degli Stemmi

The pharmacy is historically significant for its original furnishings from 1850 and its nearly unchanged layout over the years. Before the 1987 reopening, extensive restoration work was carried out on the entire interior, including the ancient furnishings. The restoration process was lengthy and challenging due to the inability to move the furniture, necessitating on-site work.

Palazzo degli Stemmi: coats of arms

Starting from Piazza Castello, the coats of arms of various noble families adorn the Palazzo degli Stemmi:

  1. Roero: Marquises of Cortanze, Counts of Monticello.
  2. Falletti: Marquises of Barolo.
  3. Sclopis: Counts of Salerano and Borgostura.
  4. Scaglia: Marquises of Verrua.
  5. Della Rovere: Lords of Vinovo.
  6. Solaro: Marquises of La Chiusa and Borgo San Dalmazzo.
  7. Bruco Olivero: Counts of Lemie, Sordevolo, and Ceresole.
  8. Valperga: Counts of Valperga, Masino, and Rivara.
  9. Turinetti: Marquises of Priero, Counts of Pertengo.
  10. Boggetti: Counts of Mongrando and Mongreno.
  11. Opera Pia di San Paolo di Torino: Religious institution.
  12. Dal Pozzo: Princes of La Cisterna.
  13. City of Turin.
  14. House of Savoy (1716): Among the allegorical statues of Faith and Charity.
  15. Del Carretto: Marquises of Camerano.
  16. Lascaris: Marquises of Ventimiglia.
  17. Carron: Marquises of San Tommaso and Aigueblanche.
  18. San Martino: Marquises of Parella (above).
  19. Provana: Counts of Collegno (below).
  20. Canera: Counts of Salasco.
  21. Vallesa: Counts of Vallesa.
  22. Perucha or Perucca: Counts of Lisio, Bianzè, and della Rocchetta.
  23. Vibò: Counts of Prali.
  24. Guerra: Marquises of Perla.
  25. Golzio.
  26. Soardi: Counts of Sant’Antonino.
  27. Quaglia.

These coats of arms tell the tale of noble families, historical events, and the rich heritage of Turin.

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