3 mins

LOUIS-PHILIPPE’S ACCOUNTANT

Among the employees at the Palais-Royal in Paris, working for the Duke of Orléans, the future King Louis-Philippe, was a young, petty accountant, supposedly in charge of adding up various monthly expenses. In fact, he spent his time writing poetry in secret, which he hoped to one day transform into a stage play. One day, Read more

1 min

THE GRIEVING DUCHESS’S TOMB

Ferdinand of Orleans, the eldest son and heir of Louis-Philippe, died in his prime in an accident. When the horses of his carriage ran out of control, he threw himself to the ground to avoid disaster, but his head struck a stone and he died from a fractured skull.             Read more

1 min

The Sergeant cursed and Nostradamus’s tomb

A few years ago, the mayor of Salon-en-Provence in southern France decided to move an ancient cemetary in order to enable a motorway to be built. A specialist company was entrusted with moving the graves, one by one, to the new location. Finally, just one was left. It belonged to the famous physician and seer, Read more

1 min

The Marchioness of Serristori didn’t want to leave her Palace

Benedetta is a grand lady and a dear friend of mine who lives in Florence. Her grandmother, the Marchioness of Serristori, was one of the most important figures in Florentine society. The Marchioness owned a splendid palace which was filled with works of art. She loved her home and devoted all her time and energy Read more

2 mins

Zucco or the Mafia’s Wine

A distant uncle, Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, inherited a fine estate about 50 kilometres from Palermo from his mother, The Queen of the french,Maria Amalia of the two Sicilers.  The property was called Zucco, and included vineyard which produced a highly-reputed sweet wine. In my youth, I sampled several bottles of it, all etched Read more

2 mins

The Fontanelle cemetery and the skulls that grant wishes

Ciro Palladino is a taxi-driver in Naples. He also happens to be an extraordinarily erudite man. He is familiar with every historic monument in the city, every legend, every story, and every noble family. He is the most unusual guide I have ever met, and it was he who introduced me to the skulls of Read more

2 mins

San Gennaro

One of France’s most fervent opponents during the Revolution was Maria Carolina of Austria. The wife of Ferdinand, King of Naples, known as « Il Re Nasone »  or « king big-nose », she was a sophisticated and cultivated woman with strong political convictions. She hated the revolutionaries who had killed her sister, Marie-Antoinette. When General Championnet’s revolutionary army Read more

6 mins

The Ruby Ring

One evening in May 1945, a launch from the Italian fleet set off from the shore through the waves and sped towards a cruiser named the Duke of the Abruzzi which was anchored out to sea. On board, a tall lady was sitting next to her tiny husband on a bench at the rear. She Read more

2 mins

On Dracula’s Footsteps V

In 1459, during the course of a devastating raid in Transylvania, Vlad attacked Brasov. He burned the poor suburbs, in particular the church of Saint Bartholomew, today full of factories. He bombarded the ramparts, particularly the stronghold of weavers. On Quinta Hill, in full view of the besieged, he impaled dozens of prisoners. One of Read more

2 mins

On Dracula’s Footsteps IV

Tuesday, 21 June The ancient city of Brasov is now besieged by hideous factories and modern quarters. We stared down upon it with horror from a high vantage point, a sharp contrast to the overflowing beauty and charm of the old city. The neighborhood around the famous Black Church is extraordinary. Vaguely Austrian despite having Read more

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