The 102nd edition of the Gran Piemonte is raced mostly on flat roads. The route follows the gentle undulations around the city of Turin, and rolls past the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy.
After the start in Racconigi, the route clears the Superga hill, running from Chieri towards Chivasso (on relatively wide roads, winding at points, and with brief undulations), all the way to Agliè, still on relatively flat and wide roads. After the turning point and the fixed feed zone (km 89-92) around Ozegna, flat roads lead back to Venaria Reale and Rivoli. Here the route becomes wavier and narrower at points, while cutting through the town centre. Past Rivoli, the race continues along wide and fast-running roads, all the way to the home straight in Stupinigi.
The final 5 km run mostly flat or slightly uphill, on relatively wide roads, with series of roundabouts. The home stretch (1,000 m) is on 8-m wide asphalt road.
Racconigi, in the province of Cuneo, is named after Raco, a Lombard landowner who lived between the 7th and 8th centuries, although evidence and relics dating back to the Late Bronze Age have been found. Major reconstruction and renovation throughout the 18th century completely eradicated the ancient mediaeval village, giving the city a modern appearance. Racconigi has been an important city of silk since the 15th century, although it is now most renowned for its castle. Built in the 11th century as a fortified house in the Marquisate of Turin, it became the property of the marquises of Saluzzo, and eventually of the House of Savoy. It was remodelled and restored throughout the centuries, and especially in the 1800s under King Charles Albert: the gardens were redesigned, and the interiors were refurbished and restored by Pelagio Pelagi in the Neoclassical-Eclectic style. After the capital was moved away from Turin, the Royal family lost interest in Racconigi until the early 20th century, when the town became the favourite place of vacation of King Victor Emmanuel III. The royal apartments speak to the evolution of taste throughout the 17th-20th century, while the 19-century Romantic style of the gardens has survived to date.
A frazione of Nichelino, in the province of Turin, Stupinigi is renowned for the Royal Park and hunting lodge (Palazzina di Caccia), featuring some vegetable gardens and small forests, as well as several landmarks including the Castelvecchio, dating back to the High Middle Ages. The castle, splendid and magnificent, was designed by Filippo Juvarra and built as of 1729 as a venue for major soirées. Construction works continued throughout the 18th century, directed by major architects, according to the international Rococo style that was all the rage at that time. It was the residence of the Royal House of Savoy, of Napoleon, and of Queen Margherita in the early 20th century. It is one of the most outstanding 18-century building complexes in Europe, still housing the original décor, valuable paintings and masterpiece furniture, and is now open to the public following major renovation works.
Even though the village had already been settled long before, the most significant historical events for the foundation of the old town of date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, following a major land planning effort by the comune of Asti. The castle was originally built in the 13th century as a simple fortress, and its history has always been tied to that of the noble families that have ruled Pralormo over time. The castle was first enlarged by the Roero family in the 14th century, and then divided into three parts in 1399. The building was further partitioned following the evolution of the fief until 1680, when it was acquired by Giacomo Beraudo, the ancestor of the Beraudo family that currently lives in the castle. Under Giacomo’s heirs, the manor underwent extensive changes: a chapel was built, several rooms were added, and the building was also elevated. The castle got its current appearance under Carlo Beraudo, who turned it into a prestigious stately mansion in 1830, creating a stunning English garden.
Agliè was founded over the ancient Roman settlement of Alladium; notable citizens included Filippo di Agliè and Guido Gozzano. The city has a magnificent castle dating back to the 12th century, which survived undamaged the rivalries between the Guelphs, the Ghibellines and the local feudal lords, and was first transformed only in the 17th century, under Filippo di Agliè. In the 18th century, it was acquired and renovated by Charles Emmanuel III for his second son, Benedetto Maria Maurizio. The restoration work also involved the village, and the new parish church was connected to the castle via a two-storey tunnel. The gardens were also redesigned following a stringent symmetry. Under Napoleon’s rule, the castle was turned into a lodge and the park was parcelled, but the palace was then returned to the Savoy family in 1823. The castle got its present-day appearance under Charles Felix who redecorated the interiors, the Galleria Verde and the Sala Tuscolana, with a collection of archaeological finds. The gardens were then further redesigned in accordance with Romantic style, wiping out the previous symmetry.
Founded in Roman times, Venaria Reale is one of the only two cities in Italy named “reale” (that is, “royal”), and the only comune in Piedmont home to multiple Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, with the magnificent Reggia (Royal Palace) and the royal apartments in Borgo Castello, at the heart of the “La Mandria” Regional Park. The highlights of the Royal Palace include the charming mid-17th century Salone di Diana, by Amedeo Castellamonte, the majestic Galleria Grande, the grandiose Cappella di Sant’Uberto and the stables, designed by Juvarra in the 18th century. The building complex is considered an absolute masterpiece of Baroque architecture. The historic centre of the village, too, was designed by architect Castellamonte, and the tiny alleys of the old town are well worth a visit.
Rivoli was first settled around 996 AD. The village was built around a fortress (strategically located), and the House of Savoy later became the ruling family in 1247; the castle, however, only became a royal residence in 1559. Emmanuel Philibert had chosen Turin as the new capital, but the city was under the French domination; therefore, the court settled in Rivoli, where Charles Emmanuel I was born. The Castellamonte architects were asked to transform the old manor, and the renovation work was assigned to architects Garove, Bertola and finally Juvarra. The latter conceived an ambitious project to transform the building into a royal palace, symbolizing the power of Victor Amadeus II; the venture, however, was never fully carried out, and the work was interrupted during the construction of the lobby, which is still open-air to date. The renovation work was resumed under architect Randoni after the Restoration, but the castle had already become less important, and it was rented out. After suffering extensive devastation, bombing, damage and collapse during the 20th century, the castle was finally restored in 1979, and it currently houses a Contemporary Art Museum.