My last bike tour in Turin to the small “Pantheon”.

I really am enjoying a lot riding my bike in Turin. There are so many things to learn and others to re-discover.

My latest bike tour of Turin took me to the edges of the municipality of Turin, just before heading to the Hunting Lodge of Stupinigi.

In fact if you take a left before entering the long boulevard taking to the facade of Stupinigi, the bike lane takes you to another very beutiful place, often neglected and forgotten, even by the locals, which also is not included into any city tour I am aware of: The Mausoleum of the Beautiful Rose (la bela Rusin).

The building looks exactly like the Pantheon in Rome, although it was built 2000 years later, on a smaller scale, for a reason which is the most romantic one.

The Mausoleum of Bela Rusin – Turin. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Many do not know that before 1946 Italy was a Kingdom ruled by the House of Savoy. (the Country was turned into a Republic after world war II). The very fist king of Italy was called Vittorio Emanuele II, also referred to as the “Father of the Country”. He was born in Turin, although after the unification of Italy into just 1 Kingdom in 1861, which made the city the first Capital of Italy, he had to move to Florence first and then to Rome, where he is buried, inside the Pantheon, the roman pagan temple later converted into a Church.

VIttorio Emanuele II was married to a woman of the Austrian Royal Family, Maria Adelaide Hofburg-Lorena, who died in 1855, before he became King of Italy, although she gave birth to 4 children.

At the age of 26 the King casually met a very young women, 16 years old, from a very low social census, who he madly feel in love with. The sentiment was reciprocated by the girl whose name was Rosa Vercellana, commonly referred to as “la bela Rusin” (the Beautiful Rose). It was the real “love for life”.

Side view of the mausoleum of Bela Rusin – Turin. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Not being a member of a noble family, she couldn’t marry the King for a long time, as counsellors and ministries wanted the King to marry another woman from a European Royal Family. So the couple had to live sort of a hidden love for long. When the members of the court finally understood the King would not renounce to marry the girl, agreement was made for a “morganatic” marriage which prevented the new king’s wife and their children to get to the throne. The couple accepted as their feeling was true and solid. Thus, Rose has never been the Queen of Italy although a new title was created for her: Countess of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda (a wine making farm which was the property of the King).

Side view of the Mausoleum of Bela Rusin – Turin. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

The couple had 2 children, Victoria and Emanuele Alberto, who never were treated as Royals. Their Family name, in fact was “Guerrieri”.

The king died in 1878 in Rome. Decision was taken to bury the Kings of Italy inside the Pantheon, thus his coffin is still there today. However, being a morganatic wife and never having carried the title of “Queen of Italy”, when Rose died in Pisa, in 1885, their children were not allowed to bury her at the Pantheon, close to the King.

Thus, Victoria and Emanuele Alberto, decided to build a copy of the Pantheon in Turin to give proper burial to their mother, who was the one and only love of the King. Thus, a building shaped exactly like the Pantheon was completed in 1888 and Rosa (the Beautiful Rose), rest in peace inside a Mauseoleum that looks exactly the same as her husband’s.

Side view of the Mausoleum of Bela Rusin – Turin. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

History is amazing, isn’t it? Beside wars, conflicts, invasions and conqueries we also find incredible love stories that left a sign in our cities and, obviously in our hearts. The Mausoleum of Bela Rusin is a symble of resilience: she couldn’t be the Queen of Italy, but she definitly has been a Queen of Hearts.

Note: the body of Bela Rusin is now at the Monumental Cemetery of Turin, together with those of her children ans in 1943 the Mausoluem was desecrated by some thieves looking for jewels.

I rode my bike back home after saying a little prayer for all those lovers who, for one reason or another, never made it to live the love they longed for.

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