Palazzo Biandrate Aldobrandino di San Giorgio, built in the late Middle Ages, was owned by the House of Savoy in the 16th century, and was also used to house the ambassadors of the Republic of Venice.
Carlo Emanuele I, nicknamed “Testa di Fuoco” (Firehead) by his subjects for his military attitudes, donated it to Guido Francesco Biandrate Aldobrandino di San Giorgio, as a compensation for his property confiscated during the first war in Monferrato (the one that was the background to the events of the Promessi Sposi, i.e. the Betrothed) by the Gonzaga, who at the time controlled the Monferrato feud.
The palace was then at the centre of a continuous transfer of ownership: it was resold to Carlo Emanuele and returned, due to the non-payment of the purchase by the Savoys, to the Biandrate family, who at the end of the 17th century entrusted Sebastiano Taricco with the decoration of the rooms on the piano nobile with a cycle of frescoes celebrating the ancient lineage.
In the 18th century, the ground floor housed Caffè Forneris, the first shoot of the great season of Turin Caffès.
After another shuffle that saw the succession of various ownerships, it was purchased in 1877 by Reale Mutua, to establish its headquarter offices. With the construction of the new building in Via Corte d'Appello at the beginning of the 1930s, the palace was gradually used for representative functions.
“The spectacle of Turin is the usual nightmarish spectacle in the aftermath of all the raids: people wandering the streets, blazing fires everywhere, water gushing in the middle of the streets” recalls a diary from 1943. But the bombing of Turin on the night between 13th and 14th July was much more than the usual nightmarish spectacle. 250 four-engine RAF bombers dropped a cascade of disruptive bombs followed by incendiary bombs that terrorised the city. As they exited the air-raid shelters, 800 people were killed and 900 injured, and they found themselves in front of a city devastated in every part: in the centre, Palazzo Chiablese, Piazza Castello, Via Po, Via Roma, the Duomo and Via Garibaldi. Palazzo Biandrate is hit on the roof, in the attics and in the lodgings.”
Between 2010 and 2012 a major restoration work involved the three floors overlooking Via delle Orfane and the ground floor spaces around the ceremonial court: coffered ceilings, paintings, frescoes, grand staircases and reception rooms now host corporate events and welcome, in part, visitors to the museum.