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Authors: Andrea Di Robilant

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A Note About the Author

Andrea di Robilant was born in Italy and educated at Le Rosey and Columbia University, where he specialized in international affairs. His first book,
A Venetian Affair,
was published by Knopf in 2003. He currently lives in Rome with his wife and two children and works for the Italian newspaper
La Stampa.


A Venetian Affair


In Italy a
is a substantial building, usually the home of an important family or institution. The principal rooms occupy the
piano nobile,
on the first or second floor, while the water-level entrance is called the
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It was a truly imposing palace. Built at the end of the fifteenth century by Cardinal Barbo, a wealthy Venetian, it was the first example of a Renaissance
in Rome, with its tower and crenellated walls still conjuring the fortress-like buildings of an earlier age. When Cardinal Barbo was elevated to the Holy See as Pope Paul II, the palace became the papal residence. In 1564, his successor Pope Pius IV ceded it to Venice with the proviso that it would pay for the upkeep. Thereafter, it served as the residence of the Venetian ambassador, though a wing of the
was reserved for the Venetian cardinals living in Rome—a condominium-style arrangement that led to endless bickering between successive generations of ambassadors and cardinals over such mundane issues as who should pay for the maintenance of the joint staircase and the courtyard.
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Goethe, also in Rome at the time, was impressed by the painting, and by Drouais’s work in general, and was among those who felt the pupil had surpassed the master. Drouais’s death in 1788, at the age of twenty-five, shocked the artists’ colony in Rome; his distraught fellow students erected a monument to his memory in the church of Santa Maria in Via Lata.
Marius at Minturnae
is now in the Louvre.
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Do you love Lucia? She loves you.
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Memmo worked tirelessly in the Senate to improve living conditions in that blighted region and was able to push through a package of agricultural and administrative reforms in 1791.
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The essay was published in a collection by Countess Giustiniana Rosenberg,
Pièces morales et sentimentales
(London: J. Robson, 1785).
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Elisabeth and Isabel are names of the same saint; Lucia’s mother was known both as Elisabetta and Isabella.
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The Comte de Provence’s title was no longer recognised and he was living in exile as the Comte de Lille. After the death of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he declared himself regent for his nephew, Louis XVII. After the boy’s death in June 1795, the Comte de Lille became more vociferous in his claim to the French throne, issuing proclamations and mobilising émigré support from his makeshift court in Verona. The French government’s pressure on Venice for his expulsion increased accordingly.
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Alvisetto’s death certificate is in the Libro dei morti in Santa Maria Antica dal 1797 al 1806, in the Archivio storico della Curia diocesana di Verona. The church where he was buried, San Sebastiano, in the heart of Verona, was destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War.
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Bonaparte married Joséphine de Beauharnais in a small civil ceremony in Paris on 9 March 1796, two days before heading south to take command of the Armée d’Italie.
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Ugo Foscolo, a poet and a novelist, became one of the most influential exponents of Romanticism in Italy.
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After Cattina and Isabella, Paolina had two little boys, Venceslao and Ferighetto.
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See Chapter Six.
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Alvise appealed the patriarchal decree, thus initiating a nine-year-long legal battle with the Church to establish his paternity of Alvisetto. He won the appeal in 1805 but local Church officials took the matter to the Tribunale d’Appello degli Stati Veneti. Alvise pleaded for dismissal of the case but it was not until 9 June 1812 that the issue was finally resolved in his favor through the intervention of Stefano Bonsignore, Bishop of Faenza and Patriarch of Venice.
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The mausoleum, commemorating Archduchess Maria Christina, is in the Augustinerkirche in Vienna and served as a model for Canova’s own funerary monument in the Chiesa dei Frari in Venice.
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Lucia had had scabies too, earlier in her marriage, with sores covering her right hand and arm. Alvise once spent the night with her, and the next day, fearful of becoming infected, instructed his manservant, Zuanne, to bring him his wife’s nightgown every morning so that he could inspect it. Zuanne later confessed to Lucia, who told the story to Paolina.
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Lucia notes this as the local German word for the tree.
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Madame de Sandizell had accompanied the vicereine from Bavaria and served as chief-of-staff at the Palace, liaising with Marchioness Litta, who was in charge of the Italian ladies-in-waiting.
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The Comte d’Artois, the future King Charles X, was Louis XVI’s youngest brother.
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He had not. One of Napoleon’s servants, returning to France from Elba, read about the death in a newspaper in Genoa. He sent a copy of the paper to the former emperor.
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Giovanni Battista Falcieri (1798–1874), known as Tita, became one of Byron’s most trusted servants. A tall, strong man, with a long black beard, he was also very gentle and kind. He was with Byron in Missolonghi, and held the poet’s hand as he lay dying; he accompanied the corpse back to England, and settled there, eventually finding employment in the house of Benjamin Disraeli in Buckinghamshire.
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Lucia’s closest friend was Giovan Battista Foscolo. He was fifteen years younger than her and a bachelor. He had taken on the duties of a
cavalier servente
when Lucia had returned from Vienna in 1806, escorting her around town and to the theatre when Alvise was away. He did chores for her and helped her with financial and legal matters. There is nothing to suggest they ever became lovers, but they grew very close, especially after Lucia helped him find work during the Austrian administration. She bequeathed him 9,000 ducats in her will, but she did not leave enough funds behind and in the end Alvisetto supplied the sum.
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Alvisetto’s two boys, Alvise and Giovanni, died very young. A later son, Andrea, married Olga Windish-Graetz, and had a daughter, Valentina. Alvisetto’s youngest daughters, Maria Amalia and Amelia, died without children. Valentina, the last of the Mocenigos, married Edmondo di Robilant, a Piedmontese. Their son, Andrea di Robilant, my grandfather, inherited the Mocenigo estate with the proviso that he take on the name. He never got around to doing it, and the Mocenigos became extinct.
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This Is a Borzoi Book Published by Alfred A. Knopf



Copyright © 2007 by Andrea di Robilant

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada, Limited, Toronto.

Originally published in Great Britain as
Lucia in the Age of Napoleon
by Faber and Faber Ltd., London, in 2007.

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
di Robilant, Andrea, [date]

[Lucia in the age of Napoleon]

Lucia : a Venetian life in the age of Napoleon / by Andrea di Robilant.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references.

1. Memmo Mocenigo, Lucia, 1770–1854. 2. Upper class women—Italy—Venice—Biography. 3. Venice (Italy)—Social life and customs. 4. Venice (Italy)—History—1787–1866. 5. Venice (Italy)—History—French occupation, 1797. 6. Europe—History—1789–1815. I. Title.

5 2008


[B]                                                               2007042430

eISBN: 978-0-307-26857-0


BOOK: Lucia
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