The Charterhouse that became the castle of the Savoia family
The little Versailles of the Sea Alps
It is called the little Versailles of the high lands. It is the royal palace of Valcasotto: nestled among the chestnut trees of a valley that already smells of the sea, here a piece of the Italian history has been made, big hunts have taken place, it has consolidated itself the legendary love between the king and Rosa Vercellana, baptised by the people as the "bela Rosin".
And a ghost also appeared. Every self-respecting castle has one: that of Valcasotto is linked to the painting "Dama in fiero", attributed to Van Dyck. It is said that this gloomy lady, currently not on display in the rooms of the castle because it is being restored, came down from its frame to predict family and political misfortune to the Royal family.
Before being the castle so loved by the Savoy family, the palace of Valcasotto hosted a Carthusian monastery. The first founded in Italy in the year 1000, it seems, by Saint Bruno himself who encouraged some hermit brothers to find the original nucleus of the Carthusian monks: in the beginning they lived in eight small huts, from which perhaps "case-otto" that is Casotto. In 1800, after the Napoleonic spoliations, the complex was bought by the Savoy family and transformed into a castle, followed by an imposing reconstruction work. Unfortunately, the restauration did not include the original nucleus of the monastery, which soon went into ruin. Instead, the area in front of it was renovated: chapel and guest quarters.
The castle was owned by the royal family from 1837 to 1881.Carlo Alberto was the first king to inaugurate the hunting castle and summer residence, but who actually used it was his successor Vittorio Emanuele II: here the gentlemanly king, a lover of nature, hunting, good wine and simple life, spent his time with the "bela Rosin", the woman from humble origins who he married first religiously and then morganatically. In 1858 Princess Clotilde, daughter of Vittorio Emanuele, received in Casotto the news that she had to marry Gerolamo Bonaparte, the cousin of Napoleon III: it was a marriage dictated by the reason of State and wanted by Cavour to be allied with France in the second war of independence.
Of the large complex remain today the central body and the two side wings that surround the charming arcaded courtyard overlooking the river. Of the oldest part, the monastery, remain only a few traces and a careful study campaign that has rebuilt its millenary history. Since 2000 the palace became the property of the Piedmont Region, which has started an impressive renovation project to open it to the public.