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Egypt, Turin, Conzano, Marengo

The Egyptian museum in Turin, a universal pioneer at the permanent exhibition on ancient Egypt and ancestor of the Cairote museum in Tahrir Square, dates back to 1824: the Savoy king Carlo Felice purchased three thousand Greek coins-Roman and five thousand Egyptian relics at the price of 400 thousand Savoy liras by the art collector Bernardino Drovetti. The sale was promoted by the diplomacy of Carlo Vidua (Casale Monferrato, 28 February 1785 – Ambon, 25 December 1830) the Count of Conzano. The year was 1809 and the Monferrato scion, logical heir and critic of Enlightenment spirit, began the adventure of explorer: the trip to Egypt (27 December 1819 – 12 August 1820) was proposed by Tsar Alexander I met in Saint Petersburg (1819) and seduced by the myriad of relics emerged from the earth shaped by the ancient pharaohs. ”I’ll soon be at the base of the pyramids! The joy of traveling is fabulous especially in these places so full of ruins and memory’: the ardour of Vidua is witnessed by the dowry of 84 written safeguards and by the meticulous itinerary of archaeological areas worth visiting. The navigation on the river Nile from Alexandria to Wadi Halfa is divided by the succession of stages on the banks: from Rosetta to Cairo, from the pyramids of Giza and Saqqarah to the known sites (Deir esh-Shelwit, Medinet Habu, Memnon, Ramesseum, Meidum, Hermopolis, Antinoe, Beni Hasan, Asiut, Gau el Kebir, Dendera, Thebes, Aswan, Philae, Kalabsha, Abu Simbel, Karnak, Luxor, Deir el-Bahari, the tomb of Seti I and the Valley of the Kings). The tour of Egypt is illustrated in the notebook written by the Count: brief notes and detailed plans to describe each monument inspected.

Vidua was also chosen by the Consul General of France in Egypt, Bernardino Drovetti (Barbania, 4 February 1776 – Turin, 9 March 1852), an officer in the Egyptian Campaign for the Napoleonic army, to help the archaeologist sculptor Jean-Jacques Rifaud (Marseilles, 28 November 1786 – Geneva, 9 September 1852) to select the statues.
Vidua was received by Viceroy Mehmet Ali (Kavala, 4 March 1769 – Alexandria, 2 August 1849) as the founder of modern Egypt who had been taken from Ottoman vassalage: the intervention promoted by the letters sent by the Count of Conzano to the Piedmontese elite was nodal in order to divert to Turin the collection already destined for France and Russia and induce to seize the remarkable chance for the glory of the House of Savoy. Sepulchral symbolism unites Egypt to Marengo: Napoleon, seduced by the colossal structure built to bury the pharaoh, He ordered the construction of the pyramidal mausoleum with a room equipped with marble tables engraved by the name of every French soldier who fell on the Fraschéta lowland at the Grande Bataille (14 June 1800). On Sunday, May 5, 1805, Bonaparte laid the first stone adorned with the inscription ‘Napoleon Emperor of the French and King of Italy to the defenders of the homeland who died on the day of Marengo” to guard the eternal memory of generous souls. The Imperial Edict, conferred on the military genius and disregarded by the unfinished work, was revered by the more modest pyramid opened in 2009.