Following the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559, the French occupation of Savoy ended and the duchy was restored to its sovereign, Emanuele Filiberto. The duke decided to move his capital from Chambéry to Torino. The old palace of the princes of Piedmont, home of the French viceroys during the occupation, was rejected as a residence by Emanuele Filiberton. Instead the duke occupied the bishop’s palace, the Palazzo di San Giovanni, in the northeast corner of the city, the first step in transforming the small provincial capital into the seat of the sovereign dukes of Savoy.
Passionate about civic architecture, Emanuele Filiberto began an ambitious program for modernizing the city, beginning with a great defensive citadel. His program would be carried forward by his son and successor, Carlo Emanuele. Under father and son, the new ducal palace would be extended by a gallery to Il Castello; the gallery houses the dukes’ growing collecting of paintings, statuary, and even exotic animals. An exterior arcade and balcony was added on the marriage of Vittorio Amadeo to Christine Marie de France in 1619.
Like most of the building in Torino, the Palazzo is constructed of brick and coated with a gleaming coat of white stucco.