Located on the left bank of the Tanaro River, in the province of Cuneo, Govone is located in the area known as Roero, next to Monferrato and looking across the river to the Langhe.
Govone's history and social evolution have always been linked to its castle, bordered to the north and west by a huge English-style park and to the east by a hanging garden of flowerbeds, fountains and trees.
The castle is mentioned in a bill of sale from 989, but the current structure is the work of the Solaro counts, lords of Govone from the 13th century. It was rebuilt by Count Roberto Solaro and his grandson Ottavio Francesco Solaro, to whom the architect Guarino Guarini (1624-1683) dedicated the castle's reconstruction project.
The building work was were carried on by their heirs, including Count Giuseppe Roberto Solaro, who was responsible for the involvement of architect Benedetto Alfieri, a disciple of Filippo Juvarra, in the design of the north façade. With the death of Count Amedeo Lodovico Solaro, who had no direct descendants, the castle and its properties passed to the State.
It was later bought by Victor Amadeus III, King of Sardinia. After the defeat of the Piedmontese by French troops, the castle was appropriated by the French nation and in 1810 it was put up for auction and bought by Count Teobaldo Alfieri di Sostegno, who in 1816 handed it over to Prince Charles Felix, returning it to Savoy hands. In 1819 Charles Felix renovated the castle, modernizing it and turning it into his summer home. On his death in 1831 it passed to his widow Maria Cristina, who in turn left it to her nephew Ferdinand of Savoy, Duke of Genoa. In 1870 it was sold to the Tedeschi banking house in Turin. It was then acquired by the Ovazza Segre family who handed it over to the municipal government in 1897.
The Royal Castle of Govone is one of the Piedmontese Savoy residences, which UNESCO has designated as World Heritage Sites. A series of careful restoration works are returning the castle to its original splendour, within the splendid setting of its vast park.
The central hall has a striking series of chiaroscuro frescoes by painter Luigi Vacca, depicting the myth of Niobe. The mythological paintings decorating the royal apartments are the work of Carlo Pagani and Andrea Piazza.
Some of the ceilings, floors and doors feature elegant and sophisticated woodwork by the sculptor Bonzanigo. Four rooms are decorated with rare Chinese wallpaper, very much in fashion at the time.
Following the tour, visitors can enjoy on their own the beautiful Italian-style gardens and the avenues of the 18th-century park, the work of the landscape architect Xavier Kurten. The rose garden has been re-established based on the gardener Delorenzi's 1850 catalogue, which describes a collection of antique roses in the Savoys' garden.
Local sights: church of Spirito Santo, parish church of San Secondo, church of San Pietro, church of Madonna delle Grazie and Craviano convent, church SS. Annunziata in Canove, historical gardens, glasshouse, rose garden, historical library, old mill at Gerotte, votive shrines
In the area: Alba, Asti, Langhe and Roero castles, wineries
Typical products: wines (Nebbiolo d'Alba, Barbera d'Alba DOC, Dolcetto d'Alba DOC, Bonarda DOC, Roero Arneis DOCG, Favorita DOC), Robiola d'Alba cheese, white Alba truffles, fruits and vegetables
Sports: tennis and volleyball courts, hiking and mountain biking paths
Events: "RegalmenteRosa" (mid May), "Tulipani a Corte" (end of March), Govone patron saint's day (last week of August), "Tradizioni e Sapori d'Autunno" (last Sunday in October)