Thefts, art, miracles, battles… it seems that the Napoleaonic age in this slice of Italy has left quite an interesting legacy, in good and bad ways! From 1796 to 1813, when Tolentino Battle ended French power in Le Marche, Napoleon and his family set their residence in this region bringing French policy: personalities with civil merits or political roles acquired noble entitlements and started build neoclassical villas.
Our Napoleonic itinerary starts in Macerata province, at that time known as Musone Department, moving from Tolentino battlefield to the white neoclassical interioris of Villa Valcampana (Treia).
The same columns are protagonist on the facade of Villa Tuscolano in Appignano.
Its jewel is the “esedra garden” (or “ninfeo”), ruined by now but keeping its poetry untouched.
You can almost hear guests’ laughs or the phantom of the owner Leopoldo Armaroli who whished to be buried in this peaceful place (even though he couldn’t because of Napoleonic Saint Cloud edict). Other stories and legends sourrounds this bucolic villa.
On the coast we find Villa Eugenia, Luigi Bonaparte’s property, while Napoleon slept in Palazzo Torri (Macerata), famous for his semi cycle overlooking the facade, used as carriages’ depot.
The dark side of the story, behind the construction of these architectural masterpieces, is that, withTolentino Agreement, the French troops started the (usual) Church’s artworks spoliation stealing Black Virgin Mary in Loreto cathedral: the holy statue was returned from Louvre after an agreement with Pope Pio VII.
Even more curious is the story of another religious artwork, given back for superstition: the painting of Virgin Mary “queen of all Saints” you can appreciate on the left side of S. Ciriaco Cathedral (Ancona).
It is known that the painted Virgin has opened her eyes in front of some witnesses and the Bishop himself. Curious Napoleon, before burning it, wanted to see the painting but at the sight of the Virgin he turned pale and ordered to his soldiers to cover it with a drape and return it to the Cathedral with all its gold and jewels.
Aren’t you starving after the long walk?!
That’s why we left at the end of our itinerary Portonovo Napoleonic Fort.
Inside Conero natural park, set on a natural bay surrounded by green woods and crystal clear water, the French Captain decided to build this white fort using stones taken from a nearby Benedictine Monastery to prevent the landing of English fleet ships looking for protection in the bay. What it has to do with food? Nowaday the Napoleonic Fort is a renowned fish restaurant! We don’t know if Napoleon liked eating fish…but with such a view from the embrasure we are sure you will! °v°