When I was 6, my grade one class went on an excursion to Montsalvat, the artist colony in Eltham which looks rather medieval. I’ve never been back, although I occasionally ponder it – they probably have luthiers there but not coopers, and I have more need for a cooper than a luthier.
I did not expect to find something along those lines in Italy, ie a faux medieval village, but here we are. The Borgo Medievale is in Valentino Park on the banks of the Po, and is a late 19th recreation of what a fortified medieval Piedmontese village would look like.
I’m not surprised to find this in the city of the Savoys. I found a fantastic old quarter in Salerno a few days ago, but the Savoys demolished almost everything old in Turin, leaving a crass Risorgimento era city. That they would have paid to create a fake medieval village on the grounds of what was one of their palaces is not exactly surprising.
It’s very well done, and looks beautiful, but it’s just an imitation of what has been destroyed, paid for by the people who did the destruction – it is just as well the Savoy family did not rule in the age of the bulldozer and modern demolition charges.
As a side note, the woman at the desk in my hotel told me that it was the real medieval heart of Turin. This just shows how out of touch with history many people are, probably most people. This is dangerous as it makes us all much easier to fool, and on more important things than this….