With an Indian Standard Buffer time of one hour, I fixed it for 8 in the morning. That meant at least by 9. The route was the same we’d taken to Castello Reale the previous week. And walking all that way really didn’t seem that fascinating, it being the second time.
With the European weather becoming more and more unpredictable (these days) the unusually cold morning on that Saturday was not much of a surprise. I started at about 9.15 in the morning. (That’s the quintessential Indian for you, stretching even the buffer by 15 minutes)
A short walk to Corso Roma, a hop in bus no. 40 and I was on my way to Piazza Caduti per Libertà in Moncalieri from where I had to start the walk up to Castello Reale and continue on for another 3 kms or so to this mysterious structure classified as a castle. (See the previous post details of its discovery)
Feeling a bit lazy and being unsure of how tiresome the walk later was going to be, I decided to take a bus for reaching Castello Reale and ended up getting down at Via Palestro on the search for a café. Having skipped the breakfast, I had decided to check out some joint that is also good enough to write about. And here is what I found.
A small bar by the name of “Bar” with a coat of arms on the board.
I told the owner of this bar that it will be featured in my blog and he kind of looked pleased letting me take a few photos and all.
I stopped before the Carabineri Gate of Castello Reale to take a few snaps of the mountains and all with the proper camera this time. I guess it is better than what I took last time with my playbook.
Sparing all other uninteresting details, I’d just start from where we had turned back the previous week.
It was a steeper ascend from this point onwards. The road was Via Remembrenza that connected me to Strada Castelvecchio.
The Moncalieri from this point was not one which I was used to. Public transport gave up at this point and the stretch that lay ahead was demarcated chunks of private property containing large mansions in wide stretches of land with high walls.
These structures conveyed a classical sobriety and the care that might have gone into its upkeep was evident. This was the different kind of affluence which I did not find tough to appreciate.
The roads were sinuous,sandwiched between high walls infusing a strange claustrophobic feeling. However, at every hint of uneasiness, one could just turn to take a look behind and thanks to the elevation, the air and the panorama of the valley below, it was easy to get over.
A sign misunderstood took me to a dead end on the way. Fortunately, I got over the resulting depression and regained the senses enough to put myself back on track. In many parts, the road could accommodate just a car and this made it precarious for the hikers, not that I saw any on the way. Bikers, however, passed by in plenty.
And when the clock displayed, 11:45 (about an hour’s trek), the board became visible.
“Castelveccio Casaforte X sec”. That was the name. There was some description which I reserved for decoding later.
To my disappointment, the castle was somewhere inside and the entire compound was walled with a remote operated gate like that of a private apartment with the names and the calling bells and all.
Unprepared as always, I had nothing in my Italian vocabulary to convey my interest in the building or even the purpose my visit.
There were some old men talking to each other at a distance. So I went to them and managed to stutter the following pieces of absolute rubbish that was my best shot at Italian:
“No entrata? Castello Casaforte? Privato? Per Turisti?”
And I get back a volley of Italian with a genuine intention of helping me out. But it didn’t make any sense to me. So they take me to the gate and show me the bell against the word that probably meant “the one in charge of maintenance and upkeep” (I forgot the word). Relieved, I thanked them and pressed the bell. Again, there is a volley of Italian from the speaker and I repeat the same old stuttering. For which, I hear Italian replies that I couldn’t make head or tail of.
And I stand there, helpless as a fish in the woods, unable to express the volumes of narrative on my journey all the way, the excitement that I nurtured for a whole week for this one moment and all that. The person on the other side finally hung up and I stood there dazed.
Another minute and then I observed that the gate was slightly ajar.
I could just walk in.
Fortunately before I was reported for trespass, a lady who was taking her car out appeared and I went to her to try my luck with the access to the compound.
And she could speak English!!!
And came out the story (though not that much about the history of the Castle). Its origin goes back to the year 1490. It is a castle but is a private property now. Curiously, this ancient castle houses few people and a firm of some sort within it. Being some kind of a historical thing, they can live inside but never do anything to alter its appearance. So it is like a private apartment building in all ways, but is supposedly an ancient historical structure.
It’s a hard concept to digest but Italians are a truly admirable lot who can do it. They still maintain the castle as it is and they manage to live inside it without disturbing the appearance. I was wondering what would have happened if the same experiment was tried in India. Put a few Indian families inside Taj Mahal and they would have painted it rainbow before you know it.
She also told me that it may be difficult to get inside the castle, but I could check out the quadrangle inside and the garden on the back side which was more than enough access as far as I was concerned.
The quadrangle really was a relic reflecting the times it had witnessed.
A walk through a cobbled archway that surrounded one side of the castle took me to the garden on the side that was not visible from the road. It was marvelous though a coarseness was visible in the maintenance.
It even retained a faded coat of arms.
Thanks to the kind lady, (That’s how much of an ass I am – I didn’t even ask her name) I spent about 15 minutes inside the compound started back for Turin by about 1.30.
Another weekend that was well spent.
Post Hike Research
I am fairly proud of my googling skills and yet I couldn’t get one bit of information about the castle. As far as the board outside is concerned, this was how Google translate decoded it:
“The castle is documented in 1037 in during the creation of walls outside of a tower and the church Internal. From 1490 there was the transformation in residence with a range in XVII which century was used as a workshop by Blessed Sacrament Fathers”
I would be really happy if any of the readers can throw some light on this.