Fairy-tale figures, wonderful castles, fascinating legends, an enchanted village... Countless surprises await you at Parco del Valentino. If you are travelling with children, this is the place for them. Before entering the park, I read my kids the legend of Phaethon and the River Po’s speaking poplars in the children's guidebook given to us by Duparc Contemporary Suites, where we stayed.
DISCOVER OUR HOTEL CLOSE TO THE VALENTINO PARK →
According to the legend, one day Phaethon, son of the god Apollo, decided to steal his father's sun chariot. However, as he didn’t know how to drive it, he set fire to woods and houses wherever he went. To stop him, Zeus threw one of his lightning bolts and caused Phaethon to fall onto the banks of the River Po. Phaethon’s sisters, the Heliades, ran to the river, where they wept night and day for their brother’s fate. Tired of their continuous lamentations, Zeus turned the Heliades into poplars. But the poplars never stopped weeping, and to this day whisper their pain to the wind.
The Fontana dei Dodici Mesi, or Fountain of the Twelve months, stands in the exact spot where Phaethon is supposed to have fallen.
The Fontana dei Dodici Mesi
The fountain stands majestic behind the trees’ amber foliage. The statues surrounding the fountain represent the 12 months of the year. At the centre, above the cascading water that plunges into the basin below, stand four sculptures, each symbolising one of Turin’s rivers. It is said that the Fountain of the Twelve Months is somewhat magical, and it does exude a mysterious charm.
The magic of the Valentino Park in Turin: the Fountain of the Twelve Months that exudes a mysterious charm
The Borgo Medievale
Continuing on our journey, we strolled deep into the park’s luxuriant vegetation, where we suddenly found ourselves in the Middle Ages. We saw a tower stand before us and then the entrance to a medieval village - a journey within our journey. Past the old workshops and an ancient fountain, we arrived at a drawbridge, at the foot of the castle. This village was actually built in the 19th century with the intent of bringing the Middle Ages back to life. It is certainly a fascinating place for children, who are enchanted by the castle’s furnished interiors, the knights’ typical weapons and suits of armour, and the dungeons. The castle’s gardens can also be visited free of charge.
Between the medieval village and the Paco del Valentino, there is a beautiful play area, where children can play freely. Running and laughter guaranteed!
The magic of the Valentino Park in Turin: continuing our journey we suddenly find ourselves in the Middle Ages
The Rocky Garden and the lamp posts in love
But the magic is not yet over, because we soon came across a well with a crowned frog peeping out of the bucket. Yes, a frog prince! We climbed up a small hill, where streams meander amidst the flowerbeds in bloom. Here and there lie romantic ponds, attended by herons and cats ready to grab some fish, but these fantastical creatures are not real. And when I stopped to ask a fisherman on a bench the time, I realized that it was nothing more than a sculpture of the wonderful Giardino Roccioso, or Rocky Garden. The atmosphere here is bucolic, almost surreal.
These imaginative creations were designed and modelled by the gardener and artist Rodolfo Marasciuolo. Currently there are 11 such works, located at the Parco del Valentino and around the city. Hunt them out with your kids - we raced to see who could spot them first! The most famous sculpture? The lamp posts in love, of course! In the park, children will love watching the ducks and crows and, above all, chasing the squirrels.
The magic of the Valentino Park in Turin: the Rocky Garden with its fantastic animals and sculptures by the gardener artist Rodolfo Marasciuolo
The Castello del Valentino
Just as you think you’ve seen it all, suddenly you find yourself overlooking a huge, sumptuous castle. Looking past the iron bars of the entrance gate, it appears in all its all-white glory, with English-style windows and the grey-blue mansard roofs typical of Alpine castles. Its charming appearance brings to mind tales of the kings and queens who once lived here. The castle was bought by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, in 1564. But it was under Christine of France that it reached the height of its splendour. Today, it is the seat of the Politecnico di Torino Faculty of Architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside, the beautiful halls may be visited free of charge, but are only accessible with a guide. The one hour tour includes the first floor rooms, the Sala delle Colonne, or Columns Hall, and the chapel on the ground floor. The Castle of Valentino is open the first three Saturdays of each month, and the tours start at 10:00 am and 11:30 am. Visit the website to book your tour.
The magic of the Parco del Valentino in Turin: the Castello del Valentino that exudes a charm of yesteryear that floods the minds with stories of kings and queens who have lived there
Turin’s Botanical Gardens, a must-see for all nature lovers, lie close to the Castello del Valentino. The Botanical Gardens are open from 9 April to 30 October 2022, on Saturdays and Sundays. Entrance is free and you can book a guided tour, which lasts about an hour.
Ready to take a leap into a real-life fairy tale? Welcome to Turin's Parco del Valentino.
WRITTEN BY: Eliana and Fabio, Allaremviaggio