of Nadia Toppino
The culmination of the old city, since its construction, the Castile is the highest expression of the role of small, but famous capital, that Saluzzo held for four centuries.
The construction of the castle of Saluzzo, wanted by the marquis Tommaso I, can be dated between 1270 and 1286 on the basis of previous fortifications. Subsequent modifications have completely changed the structure.
The fortress became a stately home by the Marquis Ludovico I on the occasion of his marriage to Margherita di Foix (1492). During the French domination at the end of the 18th century the castle was used as the seat of the Governor of the Marquisate and as a garrison barracks.
In the following century the building was now seriously degraded due to lack of maintenance, and in 1825 work began to reduce the ancient manor to a prison, a function that had already been carried out in the 18th century: the transformation involved the reconstruction of the main body and the consequent destruction of the fifteenth-century decorations.
Since 2006 the complex has been the subject of a long and careful restoration, to return it to public use: its large rooms house the historical archive, museum spaces and places where cultural and tourist promotion events will be staged.
IGAV Exhibition and Permanent Collection
These include the work of the Garuzzo Institute for the Visual Arts, a non-profit cultural association based in Turin, which inaugurated, in the autumn of 2009, in the 19th century sleeve of the former prison of Saluzzo, the Exposition and Permanent Collection which has become part of the “Contemporary Places”, identified by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.
The IGAV Exhibition and Permanent Collection is not static, but constantly updated: the works, partly belonging to the Garuzzo Private Collection and partly granted to the IGAV on loan for use by artists and gallery owners, illustrate to the public the evolution of Italian contemporary art and a cross-section of the current art scene.
Museum of Chivalrous Civilization and Museum of Prison Memory
On the 3rd floor of the nineteenth-century sleeve, the Museum of the Chivalrous Civilization, a new multimedia exhibition presents, in the light of European history, the rising features of the cultural identity expressed by the Marquises of Saluzzo and the ruling classes connected to them between the 12th and 15th centuries.
The Museum is divided into 11 rooms, each of which illuminates an aspect or a significant moment of the Marquisate’s chivalrous and courteous society, presenting one or more key figures: weddings, ecclesiastical and military careers, literary references place Saluzzo at the center of a system of relations from time to time with the Papacy, the Empire, the Kingdom of France, the Angevins, the great and small states of the Peninsula.
Stands of great emotional impact, in the Museum of the prison memory, combine to propose an unusual museum itinerary of strong suggestion in the sequence of the ancient isolation cells in the basement.
Castile, as a penitentiary institution, has crossed much of national history: from the Risorgimento to the Unity, from fascism to the Republic until its closure in 1992, and to each of these historical phases have corresponded different conceptions of punishment and different choices of criminal policy ..
Famous personalities, officials, dangerous brigands and marginal poor, all however inmates, make up the history of the first modern prison of the Savoy kingdom through a multimedia set-up that aims to involve the public even non-experts and young people.
A 360-degree reflection on prison, on its historical significance for modern democracies and on its infinite relationships with art, cinema and literature.
The book “Evasioni”
And from these and other reflections a long time ago the Piedmontese photographer Davide Dutto was involved, who with interviews, photographs, events with dinners in this old prison (with suggestive installations in the old cella), all to gather material that gave birth to the book Evasioni, written by Emanuela Savio.
A project born in 2012 from 3 creative writing laboratories coordinated by the author and the photographer, involving about 50 prisoners between Media and High Security, with the aim of creating a dialogue between inside and outside, between prison and society .