• fr
  • en

Mysteries


Strange quirks of history

THE LAST RITES OF QUEEN CATHERINE

Like every good Italian, Queen Catherine de’ Medici was superstitious. She frequently sought to have her fortune told by her personal seer, Nostradamus, and her astrologist, Ruggieri. “When will I die?” “I do not know when you will die, but what I do know is that you will die near Saint Germain.”  It was a…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Blickling Hall, The Beheaded Queen

Blickling Hall, that sumptuous estate in Norfolk, is supposedly haunted by Anne Boleyn, the queen beheaded by her ghastly husband, Henry VIII. In reality, she never lived at Blickling Hall, but the home did belong to her family. Queen Anne is said to appear each year on the anniversary of her tragic death. The conservators…

The Green Boy in the Cave

King Murat had a brother who was made count, Count Murat. His descendants still live in Lot, the ancestral home of the lineage. In the 19th century, one of the most impressive, rich, and vast caves in all of Europe was discovered on their land, the cave of Pech Merle. A distance niece of King…

Patmos: The Sailor, Innocent Victim

As our caïque neared the coast, I was lost in contemplation of the magnificent Patmian countryside before me. The beach was bordered with old tamaris trees, forming a perfect semicircle. Behind, green fields extended to the foot of the rocky hills. A white peasant home stood at the far end of the beach. It once…

The Iron Mask

I’ve heard the stories about the Iron Mask ever since my adolescence. Being an admirer of historical mysteries, I set off researching the subject. I have never been convinced of the importance of this mystery, or why it is such a mystery at all. During the reign of Louis XIV, there was a prisoner in…

The Train that Didn’t Exist

I met Mademoiselle Saint Léger during one of my visits to the ravishing and charming Doneraile Court in Ireland. She was a descendant of the former owners and belonged to one of the oldest Norman families who had come to England with William the Conqueror. One of her most famous ancestors, an extremely handsome man, was a close…