Letters from Turkey, by Mary Wortley Montagu

Letter xlvi.

From Turin. — Character of Turin, its palaces and churches — Lady M. waits on the queen — persons of the king and prince of Piedmont described.

To the Countess of ——.

Turin, Sept. 12. O. S. 1718.

I CAME in two days from Genoa, through fine roads, to this place. I have already seen what is shewed to strangers in the town, which, indeed, is not worth a very particular description; and I have not respect enough for the holy handkerchief, to speak long of it. The churches are handsome, and so is the king’s palace; but I have lately seen such perfection of architecture, I did not give much of my attention to these pieces. The town itself is fairly built, situated in a fine plain on the banks of the Po. At a little distance from it, we saw the palaces of La Venerie, and La Valentin, both very agreeable retreats. We were lodged in the Piazza Royale, which is one of the noblest squares I ever saw, with a fine portico of white stone quite round it. We were immediately visited by the Chevalier —— whom you knew in England; who, with great civility, begged to introduce us at Court, which is now kept at Rivoli, about a league from Turin. I went thither yesterday, and had the honour of waiting on the queen, being presented to her by her first lady of honour. I found her majesty in a magnificent apartment, with a train of handsome ladies, all dressed in gowns, amongst which it was easy to distinguish the fair princess of Carignan. The queen entertained me with a world of sweetness and affability, and seemed mistress of a great share of good sense. She did not forget to put me in mind of her English blood; and added, that she always felt in herself a particular inclination to love the English. I returned her civility, by giving her the title of majesty, as often as I could, which, perhaps, she will not have the comfort of hearing many months longer. — The king has a great deal of vivacity in his eyes; and the young prince of Piedmont is a very handsome young man; but the great devotion which this Court is, at present, fallen into, does not permit any of those entertainments proper for his age. Processions and masses are all the magnificence in fashion here; and gallantry is so criminal, that the poor Count of —— who was our acquaintance at London, is very seriously disgraced, for some small overtures he presumed to make to a maid of honour. I intend to set out tomorrow, and to pass those dreadful Alps, so much talked of. — If I come to the bottom, you shall hear of me. — I am, &c. &c.

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