What it is and where it is
The Circolo dei Lettori is a cultural foundation that originates from the old Circolo degli Artisti, founded in 1847 and headquartered since 1858 in the scenic Palazzo Graneri della Roccia, one of the most sumptuous aristocratic residences in the city center. Large volumes, enhanced by the luster of Gassino marble, the same material as the Basilica of Superga. And then the interiors, on the threshold of which one is breathless with the emotion of taking a leap back in time. An experience paradoxically amplified by the silence that briefly envelops those who climb those stairs.
Why it is special
Stepping through the portal of this baroque palace projects one into the Turin of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: the colonnaded atrium open to the monumental courtyard; the grand staircase rising to the piano nobile; the Gallery in front of the sumptuous apartment that once belonged to the Marquises Graneri della Roccia; the Great Hall with its stuccoes and enormous blown-glass chandelier; the rooms that follow one another amid mirrors, velvets and dozens of paintings on the walls; even the billiards table reserved for the members of the time that was. All consistent with the period atmosphere, even the room intended as a cafeteria, with its period counter.
Not to be missed
The Readers' Circle offers a schedule of events that leaves you spoiled for choice: lectures and meetings with authors, conversations and reading groups, even literary snacks for children. Not forgetting excursions into the neighboring areas of music, photography and film, and science, finding the most suitable space from time to time among the residence's many halls. Poking through the event titles: "Portraits of Women," dedicated to women's productions; "English Tales," literary conversations in the language; "Café Philo," about great thinkers...
A bit of history
This, the founders' statement of purpose in 1847: "To establish the fundamental foundations of a Society of men of letters and artists whose object was to assemble for the purpose of communicating their ideas and contributing to the increase of letters and the fine arts." The Circle quickly became an important point of reference for the city's cultural life; there were numerous theatrical and musical performances, grand balls, and concerts. Presidents included Massimo d'Azeglio, who among other things was prime minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Among the members was Camillo Cavour, one of the great protagonists of the Risorgimento.
The Circolo dei Lettori also offers a truly unique dining experience, sitting at the table of the Tampa, a sui generis restaurant located on the mezzanine level. Indeed, it is in its own way a gastronomic club, also with a centuries-old history and on the walls a collection of portraits of the many figures from Turin's history who have frequented it. Cuisine is strictly Piedmontese, from traditional "tajarin with porcini mushrooms" to creative preparations such as "boneless quail stuffed with foie gras, chestnut cream and dried fruit." As for the goblet, mostly Piedmont, ça va sans dire.