THE ARCO TRIONFALE
Work to erect the Triumphal Arch commenced on 9
May 1585 in preparation for the wedding parade of Duke Charles
Emmanuel I and his wife Catalina Micaela, daughter of the King of
Spain, in July. The procession, on its way back to Turin from
Zaragoza, where the nuptials had been celebrated, crossed Piedmont
from Ceva to Moncalieri.
The towns visited by sovereigns would hold celebrations and ceremonies during which the façades of the houses were decorated and arches, often temporary, would be erected to exalt the power of the ruling house.
The Turin architect Giovanni Battista Ripa drew up the original plans for the arch and the decorations were designed by the painter Giovanni Angelo Dolce. The arch was built in the middle of town rather than at its gates, as it was to serve as a dramatic backdrop for the arrival of the newlyweds from Borgo Pieve along Via Sant'Andrea and was thus designed to frame the large square. A temporary arch had already been built in the same place in 1560 for Emmanuel Philibert's visit.
The side of the arch facing the square is decorated with two pairs of columns separated by niches that once held statues celebrating the sovereigns. Set above the columns is a wide entablature, an Attic storey holding the plaque for the inscription and the pediment with the Savoy arms.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries changes were made on the painted parts and architectural features of the Triumphal Arch, mainly for solemn events or the visits of sovereigns. The statues in the niches were removed and destroyed during the Napoleonic domination.
Other work was carried out in 1965, when the twentieth anniversary of the Resistance was celebrated. The last restoration, conducted in 1997, made it possible to uncover fragments of the original fresco decoration of the intrados and to enhance the colour scheme of the monument by restoring the painted work.
Ripa seems to have modelled the edifice after ancient examples such as the Arch of Titus in Rome and the Arch of Triumph in Benevento. The interior of the arch is accessed via a window on the eastern side.