The royal residence of King Vittorio Emanuele and his wife Elena had large underground cellars where the Queen kept all kinds of cast-off clothes which she then distributed to the poor.
During the second half of the 1930s it was decided to join these cellars to some nearby underground quarries, that existed on the northeast side of the building, in order to create a single larger space.  The new tunnels were strengthened and equipped with some very simple furnishings—which included a very large tea service!  The area could be reached through a manhole inside the Villa, or —as Queen Elena’s Lady in Waiting, Rosa Perona Gallotti, revealed many years later—through a hatch placed at the foot of a Palm tree in front of the rear façade.  All of this is confirmed by various maps and notes discovered by Roma Sotterranea as a result of archival research.
When the threat of air raids on the Capital became more real, Mussolini, who realised how destructive  the new Anglo-American bombers could be, insisted on greater security for himself and the Royal Family.  Therefore two new bunkers were built – one in the grounds of the Villa Torlonia and one in the grounds of the Villa Savoia.  Even though no documents have been found that give the date of the actual building of the bunker in the Villa Savoia, we can confidently fix it in the years 1940-42.
The bunker was located in a rather unexpected place, 350 meters to the north of the villa, and was built into a small hill.  The hill was called the “Colle delle Cavalle Madri” (Hill of the Mother Horses) taking its name from the farm building there, in which were quartered the pregnant mares from the Quirinale stables.  The bunker was dug out of the exposed tufa face of the hill, perhaps exploiting parts of the quarry already there.  In this way access to the bunker was provided at ground level, and there was no need to climb stairs or ramps.
The most unusual feature of this bunker, thanks to the way it was constructed, is that it could accommodate few cars.  Considering the distance from the residence, the bunker had to be reached by car—certainly not on foot, which would have been dangerous during an air raid.  A short drive, first driving towards the North, leaving the stables on the right and then descending towards the West on a winding road, allowed the bunker to be reached in not more than 2-3 minutes.
In the past there has been speculation as to whether there were underground passages connecting the bunker to the Royal residence.  Even though several tests were carried out to check whether there might be rooms behind some of the brickwork, no evidence of the existence of such passages has been found.
The structure is almost round in shape.  The royal family had access to the shelter by means of a short driveway leading to a massive double-door which was the entrance to the bunker.  The two doors, still in place, weigh about 1,200 kilograms each, and were made by pouring cement inside a metal frame 20cm wide.  In front of the double doors, to the left there is a second entrance: here an armoured door opened into the first room, and then a second door, which provided a seal against poison-gas, gave access into a second room—the very heart of the bunker.  This inner chamber is a high-pressure room (Gasschleusse) based on a German design. It possessed a very efficient system of filters for the purification and renewal of air, and an independent source of power that guaranteed, in the event of power or engine failure, the continued working  of the filter system.  The independent power was provided by someone sitting on a bicycle and pedaling.  This installation was called "Elettroventilatori a pedaliere".
There is some uncertainty about the space given over in the shelter for motor vehicles: it had ample room for turning, or for providing parking spaces for 3 vehicles.  The bunker also contained two bathrooms, an antechamber, and two service areas. What is striking about all the rooms is that they were created with extreme care and unmistakably recall—both in the use of the materials as in some of the details—the rationalistic architecture of the day.
The bunker also had a secondary escape route: the splendid spiral staircase in travertine with 40 steps that had to be climbed to reach a small cylindrical exit, built in bricks. This had a roof in the shape of a mushroom which emerged from the highest part of the hillock.

Next to this second exit there is a structure made up of concrete slabs.  As a protection against bombings, a final barrier made up of two thick layers of reinforced concrete was placed at the top of the hill and is still visible today.  It is positioned a few meters away from the secondary exit of the bunker.  The slabs — a genuine "shield"—were perfectly camouflaged thanks to the thick vegetation which surrounded them.  Tall maritime pines had been planted here which, with their wide canopy, performed their purpose beautifully.  A circular hole had even been made in one of the slabs for one of the trees to grow through.  As further camouflage the shield had been covered with gravel, perhaps derived from the tufa quarried out of the hill when the shelter was being built.  The concrete slabs were supported by thin brick walls in which large arches had been built.  If they had been hit by a bomb, the walls would have given way at the moment of the explosion, reducing the impact and creating a cushioning effect.
The whole structure has a cylindrical shape, with walls reinforced with arches, which means that it is very resistant to collapse. Made with a thick lining of bricks, it would have further protected the occupants in the event of attack. It is not known whether further strengthening, with reinforced concrete, is concealed behind the bricks.
Protection from gas was guaranteed by the presence of rubber seals on all of the doors , including the great door of the driveway.  On some of the doors the rubber fittings are miraculously still in place.
The bunker can be defined as an italian interpretation of the "armatura di Braunschweig".  Thanks to the originality of the techniques adopted for its fortification, it can be included amongst  the most interesting  underground cavities of this type in the whole of Italy.
If we had to choose a specific date which determined the destiny of the bunker, this would be the evening of the 8th of September 1943.  This was not an ordinary day, but the one on which was publicly announced the signing of the Cassabile armistice, that took place 5 days earlier. At around 19.30, for the very last time, the 74 year old Vittorio Emanuele III and his wife, Elena, left their Villa on board their Fiat torpedo 2800.  They first drove to the Quirinale but from there moved to the Palazzo Baracchi, seat of the Ministry of War, on the Via XX Settembre.  Finally, at 4.50 of the morning of the 9th—in an unpremeditated nightime dash, driving down the Via Tiburtina—the royal family and their following reached Ortona where they caught a boat to Brindisi.  The bunker, in the course of a single day, passed from being the last shelter of the Royal Family to a forgotten place in a hidden and rarely frequented corner of the huge park.