Turin, the first capital city of the Kingdom of Italy (from 1861 to 1865), was defined by Le Corbusier as «…the city with the most beautiful natural position in the world». Its location has been celebrated by many people down through history, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Twain, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau who described the view from Superga Hill as «…the most beautiful sight that the human eye could ever see».
Turin is one of the most important Baroque cities in Europe, along with Milan and Palermo, and it is also the Italian capital of Art Nouveau. Examples of this artistic movement can be seen around the city, but the best are the many historic coffee shops, which flourished mainly during the Risorgimento and Belle Époque periods.
Neri’s collaboration with the city of Turin and AEM, the city’s electricity provider, started many years ago. It has developed over time through many different projects, several collaborations undertaken to respond to several different needs that the city has presented to Neri at different times. The common thread to all the projects has been the respect of the city’s history and its lighting by preserving, through restoration and reproduction, the specific design of this magnificent city. Aesthetic conservation also involves technological evolution.
TURIN: ‘IMPERO’ LANTERN
One of the most important projects involved reproducing a large typical Turinese lantern called the ‘Impero’. It is an unusually sized brass lantern with a crown made up of large spheres, found in all of Turin’s large squares: piazza San Carlo, piazza Castello, piazza Carlo Alberto, piazza Carignano, piazza Vittorio Veneto, piazza Gran Madre and piazza San Giovanni.
TURIN: CAST IRON STREET LAMPS IN PIAZZA CASTELLO
For piazza Castello, in front of Palazzo Madama, Neri reproduced the original lamp posts. Since none of the original lamp posts had survived, Neri studied photos from the 1800s to define the proportions and decorations to carve new wooden models to use for casting.
It was fascinating research. Fondazione Neri looked at as many historical photos as possible to try and add even the smallest details to decorations, to reproduce the lamp posts faithfully.
TURIN: CAST IRON STREET LAMPS IN THE LAMARMORA GARDENS
Though the lamp posts in piazza Castello had been lost, Turin still had two very particular original lamp posts. Like the reproductions, these also had a triangular base, but instead of being decorated with bull heads – the city symbol – they had elaborate winged female figures. Neri oversaw the comprehensive restoration of the three lanterns.
TURIN: BRACKETS OF PALAZZO REALE E PIAZZA PALAZZO DI CITTÀ
Inside the courtyard at Palazzo Reale and in piazza Palazzo di Città, the large cast iron brackets really make an impressive visual impact. Neri oversaw the restoration and reproduction of these items.
TURIN: ‘SANTA TERESA’ SUSPENSION LAMP
The most common product in the city is often used to respond to catenary solutions, or to be indifferently mounted on brackets and lamp posts. It dates back to the 1930s. Neri reproduced this lamp by introducing a reflector that can direct the light output, preventing it from dispersing upwards and improving efficiency.
TURIN: LAMP POSTS IN VALENTINO PARK
Parco del Valentino is surrounded by the tramway lines, the cables of which are supported by steel lamp posts embellished with cast iron bases specifically designed for the original project of the early 1900s. Neri has also reproduced the lamp post that was used also for lighting in the park with the ‘Santa Teresa’ suspension lamp.
TURIN: BRACKETS IN THE GALLERIES
Turin has many galleries. They are not as large as Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, but they are still very important because they guarantee quick, sheltered passage through the 19th century urban layout that is also pleasant due to the many stores and coffee shops. Neri used the Nashira system to light and furnish in the original style.
TURIN: LANTERNS AND BRACKETS AT REGGIA DI VENARIA REALE
Just a few kilometres from Turin stands the spectacular Reggia di Venaria Reale. Built in the 1600s by Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy, it was destined to become the family’s hunting residence in the Turinese hills. The Latin term Venatio Regia indicates the hunting realm, which is just as Versailles and Schonbrunn. Restoration started in 1998, and it was one of the largest construction sites in Europe. Work ended in 2011 with the recovery of the Stables and the ‘Citronière’, for which Neri reproduced the brass lanterns and brackets with the approval of the Superintendency. The Reggia is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
TURIN: LANTERNS AND LAMP POSTS AT VILLA DELLA REGINA
On the foothills of Turin stands the 17th century mansion known as Villa della Regina. Built by Maurizio of Savoy, and later passed to his wife Ludovica, it was destined to become the Savoy queens’ home, and that is what its current name reflects. It belongs to the series of Savoy Residences in Piedmont and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On occasion of the restoration, the park was also lit with ‘Light 700’ and ‘Light 800’ and street lamps from the Castore system.
MONCALIERI: MIZAR SYSTEM
Lastly, in Moncalieri, just outside Turin, street lamps from the Mizar system were installed with ‘Light 31’ for the recovery of an industrial archaeology site in the internal roads of an old factory.