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Palazzo Madama

Located in the heart of Turin, in what was supposed to be the castrum or Quadrilatero Romano, the complex stands on what, at the time of the ancient Roman colony of Julia Augusta Taurinorum, was called Porta Praetoria (for other historians it was instead the Porta Decumana ), from which one entered the Decumano Maximo entering the eastern part.

Here, in fact, we had access to the city from the side of the Po, which was, due to its strategic position, carefully defended; after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the door was transformed into a fortress, adapted to the city defense, given the obvious importance of this way of communication, even if it maintained its original function of passage with the opening in the ancient Roman wall.

The Civic Museum of Ancient Art is located in the building. This is a combination of two thousand years of History of Turin, from the ancient eastern door of the Roman colony of Julia Augusta Taurinorum to a defensive Casaforte, then to Castello proper, symbol of the Savoy power until at least the 16th century, when the current Palazzo Reale, as the seat of the Duke of Savoy.

The western part of the first medieval complex was then called Palazzo Madama because it was first inhabited by Madame Cristina of Bourbon-France, called the first Royal Madame, in the period 1620-1663 around, then by Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy-Nemours, called the second Madama Reale, in the period 1666-1724. It was for the latter that the present façade was designed, in 1716-1718, by the court architect Filippo Juvarra.

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The 23 days of the city of Alba

The conquest of Alba by the autonomous formations of the Langhe was the crowning of months and months of struggle on the hills, which had reduced the fascist garrison to the light, almost confined within the city.

The fascist troops in fact abandoned the city in an orderly and agreed on October 10, thanks to the intervention of the curia of Alba, chased by the partisans who were preparing to enter the streets triumphantly, then greeted by the festive population and the sound of the bells of all the city churches.

The military occupation of the city bothered the high fascist authorities, from Turin to Salò, who immediately thought about how to get back into possession because the free zone represented a “stain” on their prestige.

For this reason, not only Italian troops participated in the reconquest of Alba, in particular anti-partisan units of the RAU (official daring departments), formations of the GNR and black brigade, a platoon of cavalry and some departments of the X mas (Bgt Lupo e 1 ^ and 2 ^ cp. Btg. Fulmine). [2]

The partisans, who gave life to a civil government maintaining the order and the trade, controlled above all the banks of the river Tanaro to the north and the entrance of the city from the south, while the whole west side was thought to be reasonably safe for the presence of the river in flood and especially after the mine that, it was thought, had collapsed the bridge over the river in Pollenzo, a few km away. The bridge (of ropes), however, was only partially destroyed, and was under the control of the SS of Captain Wesser (stationed in the castle of the royal circle of Pollenzo) and was then repaired without their knowledge.

On the night of November 2, it was run by the fascist troops, who reached the city from the south and wandered from the east, on the hills, while another group passed the river on a bridge of boats and penetrated from the west. The alarm was given early in the morning by a man who managed to escape the fascist vanguards who had killed his three companions, in the locality of Toetto, while sheltering from the heavy rain under the roof of a small church (Fenoglio writes that they were playing cards).

The partisans waited for the fascist vanguards, concentrating on the southern line of San Cassiano farm, where there were some trenches, but soon they realized that the enemy was wandering them from the east because they started firing, and they stopped the machine guns one after the other. on some dominant positions (villa Monsordo, castelgherlone) on the left.

Seized in numerical inferiority and with serious logistical difficulties (mainly due to adverse weather conditions) the partisans folded up on a hill (loc. Villa Miroglio) and then retreated again in the Langa. The fascists, having penetrated into Alba without the greeting of the population, “went the bells in person” (B. Fenoglio, “The twenty-three days of the city of Alba”).

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Santuario della Consolata

The story goes that an icon depicting the Madonna during the various alterations of the church was lost. A blind man, coming from Briançon, arrived on a pilgrimage, claiming he had first received in a dream, and then in miraculous apparition near Pozzo Strada, west of Turin, the Madonna. The latter would have given precise indications regarding the recovery of the sacred image, in the basement of the ancient church of Sant’Andrea. After some insistence with the bishop’s authorities, the icon was found on June 20, 1104, while the blind man regained his sight. Following this miraculous event, the church was restored and raised to the rank of basilica.

The great devotion that binds the city to this sanctuary originates from this picture, of which a posthumous copy is still preserved within the current crypt of the sanctuary.

Let’s look at this picture of the Virgin with the Child, she can teach us a lot about devotion to Mary.

We know it is of oriental origin. Although it is a canvas, we see the characteristics of the icon, the typical artistic expression of the peoples of the East. For us, Westerners of the twenty-first century, the presentation of this Virgin with the Child needs explanation. Those of us, in fact, when they see the image of the Consolata for the first time, do not remain perplexed by this style of portraying Mary and Jesus.

The faces are most striking. We are used to contemplating Mary and Jesus in the beauty of their outward features. Here it is not so … here, to earn it, is the inner beauty. The face of Mary has a veil of sadness, under which there is hope. She bends her head slightly towards her Son, as if to present to him our difficulties. The right hand at the breast seems to tell us that it has made its own all the sufferings, the pains, the worries of its children who turn to you. And he presents these his sons to his Son. Jesus, on the other hand, flaunts a “senile” face. It was the way of the Orientals to say that in Jesus dwells wisdom.

Jesus, still, appears to us seated on his Mother’s left arm, and looks towards us. Mary, in turn, does not look directly at the Son, but presents it to the world. He guards it, but not for you. The only bond that unites Mother and Son is the left hand of Jesus, who simply rests on that of the Mother. With the right hand He blesses the world in the Eastern way: two fingers extended and three folded; the two natures of Christ, the three divine Persons.

Faithful to the inspiration of “iconic” art, this painting also respects its colors. The dark mantle of Mary, of an intense blue, expresses the glory of Her in Heaven: a robe of glory that envelops the whole body to sublimate and eclipse it, while with its golden edge expresses the participation of the Virgin to the glory of God. The red indicates the royalty: Mary Queen in Heaven, the pure red cloak of Jesus means that He possesses royalty by nature. The three stars on the mantle of the Virgin (one is hidden by the Child), express her triple virginity: before conception, during conception and after the birth of Jesus. Mary carries a ring on her finger. In the Old Testament it meant authority and power.

The church

The portal pronaos bears the Latin inscription CONSOLATRIX AFFLICTORUM, or “comforter of the afflicted” and the real name of the church is in fact a sanctuary of Santa Maria della Consolazione. However, it has always been known as “Consolata”, instead of the more correct “Consolatrice”: almost as if it were Maria to be it and not you the consoler.
Early Christian origins (5th century)

The Consolata sanctuary has an ancient history. As can be clearly seen from the side close to the homonymous street, the basilica stands on the remains of one of the corner towers of the ancient city walls of the ancient Augusta Taurinorum. Here, in the fifth century, the bishop Maximus built a small church dedicated to Saint Andrew with a chapel dedicated to the Virgin, in which an image of the Madonna was placed, probably on the remains of a previous pagan temple.
The transformation into the abbey (eleventh century)

Shortly after the year one thousand, the church was the seat of the Novalicensi monks, veterans of the expulsion from the Valle di Susa by the Saracens. To them we owe the first enlargement that saw the construction of a new church in Romanesque style developed on three naves, with a cloister on the southern side and the bell tower, its only testimony to have come to our days, which is now deviated from the baroque body of the current building; such a mighty bell tower raised by the abbot Gezone of Breme by the monk architect Bruningo, as chronicled by the Chronicon Novalicense between 980 and 1014, is therefore «… the oldest architectural monument that can boast Turin after the remains of the Roman buildings» . Tradition has it that King Arduino contributed in his first enlargement in 1014,