Turin, though a very small city, considered as a capital, is yet a most princely place. It is much more regular than the Italian cities are in general: it is, however, modern, and retains none of those features of antiquity, which are to a city what nobility is to a family, an honour that casts a veil over many defects. Towards the centre, a noble square is formed by the Royal Palace, Government House, and other public edifices. From this square run, in straight lines, broad and handsome streets of from eighty to one hundred feet wide, and of simple but fine architecture.
The windows of the houses are large, and the frequent balconies of the second story give a lively and splendid appearance to the whole. Workmen are now busily employed in converting the space, formerly occupied by the fortifications, into gardens, and public walks; which will prove a great embellishment, by opening, in every direction, the pleasing view of rich verdure and fine trees. The broadest and finest street of Turin lies in a direct line from the square, and terminates in a view of a hand-some bridge, called the Bridge of the Po, which here passes the city. Turin is exactly what a child would design for the model of a city, having the King’s Palace in the centre, with large and wide streets running towards It.
The Court is now at Genoa, which gives a greater appearance of stillness to this city, through the absence of the bustle, gaiety, and noise, in some measure inseparable from a royal residence.
The King’s Palace has no mark of distinction except a royal guard. The apartments are splendidly furnished; but a palace, unless full of gay and gallant company, is always tame and dull. I know not whether the imagination was impressed by the recollection of past revolutionary scenes, or by the gloom arising from the absence of the royal inmates of the palace; but neither its rich and handsome decorations, nor its innumerable paintings, could inspire my mind with any cheerful ideas: a sombre stillness seemed to prevail throughout, giving to the whole an expression of melancholy.
On the first landing-place of the palace stairs, there is an equestrian statue of Victor Amadeus, the horse trampling over slaves, who are beaten down under his hoofsa barbarous conception ! The figures of the slaves are well executed, but the statue itself is contemptible.
The artist Trisian was a pupil of John of Bologna.The Palace of the Dukes of Savoy, situated in the same square, was erected in the year 1416: It received, in 170, a new front by Ivara, which has been much admired; but chiefly, I suppose, because it is the only work of his, not altogether contemptible. It presents a Corinthian peristyle with pilasters, but the shafts are too long, the capitals too heavy, and the’ cornice too ponderous for the building. Each coigne of vantage” is surmounted and defended by figures of armed men. The Duke of Northumberland has not a more numerous array of plastered figures on the ramparts of Alnwick Castle, than the King of Sardinia on this Palace. Ivara, who was a Sicilian, studied at Rome under the best masters; but they all failed in teaching him simplicity. There is nothing in this city from which the traveller can derive much interest or pleasure. It can be regarded only as an elegant place of repose for a few days. To the antiquary it presents no objects of inquiry; to the artist, no pictures, statues, or buildings, worthy of particular notice. The Royal Palace, that of the Prince Carignani, now presumptive heir to the crown, the Government House, Theatre, Town Hall, and Market Place, are the chief public edifices.