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Piazza Carlo Alberto, situated in the historic center of Turin, is one of the city’s iconic squares. Named after King Carlo Alberto di Savoia, it was the first of the Savoy-Carignano dynasty. The square occupies the former private gardens of Palazzo Carignano, which were enclosed by walls.

The walls extended to the stables, which now house the National University Library. Renovated in 1958, the building was entirely reconstructed while preserving the original facade facing the square. Notably, it holds an almost complete collection of autographed scores by Antonio Vivaldi, totaling around 450 documents.

During the fascist era, it served as the provincial headquarters of the National Fascist Party and was partially burned during violent clashes in 1943. Notably, the square houses the National University Library, which preserves nearly 450 autographed scores by Antonio Vivaldi.

Piazza Carlo Alberto
Piazza Carlo Alberto

The square took its current form between 1842 and 1859. On the southern side stands Palazzo Campana, an 18th-century building now housing the Department of Mathematics at the university. During the fascist era, it served as the provincial headquarters of the National Fascist Party and was partially burned during violent clashes in 1943.

Friedrich Nietzsche

In the building between Piazza and Via Carlo Alberto, facing the Po River, Friedrich Nietzsche resided in 1888 and 1889. He occupied a room on the third floor, where he composed significant works such as “The Antichrist” and “Ecce Homo.” However, Nietzsche’s presence in Turin is often remembered for an episode on January 3, 1889.

Piazza Carlo Alberto

In Piazza Carlo Alberto, he witnessed a coachman whipping the horse pulling a carriage. Nietzsche immediately confronted the man, defending the horse by embracing and kissing it. He fell to the ground and, in spasms, began shouting nonsensical phrases, claiming to be “Dionysus” or the “new Lord of Turin.”

In truth, this incident leans more toward legend than reality. Nevertheless, there is an element of truth: Nietzsche exhibited early signs of madness during his stay in the city. A commemorative plaque (not related to his madness but to his writings) marks his passage on Via Carlo Alberto.

Monument to Carlo Alberto

In 1861, the equestrian statue of Carlo Alberto was placed in front of the facade of Palazzo Carignano. Under the Statuto Albertino, he was a visionary precursor. His role extended beyond the duchy, significantly impacting Italy’s unification process. His remains rest in the Royal Tombs of Superga.

Monument to Carlo Alberto

At the statue’s base, four female figures symbolize liberty, martyrdom, civil equality, and the Statute. Additionally, four soldiers represent the Artillery, Cavalry, Grenadiers, and Bersaglieri corps. Bas-reliefs commemorate battles like Goito, Santa Lucia, and Carlo Alberto’s abdication and death.

Today, Piazza Carlo Alberto is a significant site in Turin’s historic center. Although relatively quiet, it occasionally hosts markets and small festivals. Its central yet somewhat peripheral location makes it less frequented by tourists.