Culture, History, Royals
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The Royal Lover

Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Emperor of Austria

Gracefully walking down the marble staircase in a long and heavy white dress, Livia Raimondi Malfatti, moved towards her lover, His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Fine lace framed her face and neck, tight velvet suited her delicate chest and shoulders, gardenia water perfumed her soft hair.
He was waiting by the door, white gloves in hand, upright in his profile, straight in a perfectly cut black coat.
He looked at her, offering his arm down the last few steps. She leaned willingly. He tasted of talcum powder and freshly sprinkled cologne. A footman opened the door for them and they were driven to the theatre in a closed carriage.

It’s maybe like this that evenings between the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, and his beloved Livia Raimondi Malfatti began. They probably met late at night, after his official duties with his wife, Maria-Luisa of Spain, who gave him sixteen children.

We are in the second half the Eighteenth Century. He is a powerful sovereign, she is a ballerina. He builds a “Casino” for her, a palace with a garden in Piazza S. Marco in Florence. He visits her or takes her to the theatre. The Grand Duke abandons himself to Livia, loving her restlessly. She is lithe and dedicated. From the open windows a scent of cypress and wet night creeps into the room.
He cannot give her up when he becomes Emperor of Austria. He takes her away from Florence, from their nest, and accommodates her in a lavish apartment in Vienna. But a Bohemian countess steals her show. Livia, in the meantime, had had a son, of whom she took care with love. But when the Emperor dies, things change.  The sons of the Emperor cannot bear the ballerina and take her son away from her. She begs for mercy, but she’s not even given audience. She won’t see her son anymore. And it stripped from all love that she goes back to Florence, alone.

© Melissa Pignatelli 2012

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