Historic Menus from the House of Savoy
A Look Into the Private Life of the Court (1878–1923)
The Academia Barilla Menu Collection contains menus from prestigious dinners held by Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I, Vittorio Emanuele III and even prince Umberto II. The menus of the kings of Italy and the Savoy family are generally characterized by their elegant, yet sober graphics and list of high-quality dishes. Menus were written in French up until 1907, the year in which Vittoria Emanuele – with his motu proprio – decreed that Italian would be the official language of Court menus.
Examining the menus from the Quirinale, the official residence of the King of Rome, we found that over five hundred different dishes were served each year. The chefs of the Savoy family – like Amedeo Petini, Vittorio Emanuele III’s chef and author of important publications – included many regional Italian dishes and quality products in their menus. Many of their recipes came from Piedmont and Savoy, the places of origin of the royal family.
We must take note of the differences between the private meals served to the family and the official dinner parties.
The daily lunches and dinners of the Savoy family were not unlike those of their more affluent subjects. In 1900, when Vittorio Emanuele III took over the throne, the food at the King’s table closely resembled that of the upper class. During official events, however, the meals were more formal in terms of flavor and international trends. The menus designed for the many official parties held by the Roman Court were meant to please European diplomats and their foreign guests
Menus from dinners held during official visits abroad are especially rare.
Our collection includes menus from Umberto I’s visit to London in 1882 and Vittorio Emanuele III’s visits to Paris in 1903, then London, then Belgium in 1922 and Libya in 1938. When abroad, the Italian kings usually hosted large banquets, according to the rules of courtesy, which featured Italian food and wines in honor of their host.