Obscure Borgia-Related Places (4): Senigallia

Senigallia is a tiny town squeezed between its big brother Ancona towards the east, and Pesaro and Fano towards the west. Its back is protected by the gorgeous Apennines and in front, there is only blue blue sea. Today, the town is certainly ‘Italy off the beaten track’ and on its velvet beaches, you find […]

A prophecy fulfilled…

515 years ago, during the night of 11 March, not more than a flash in time, Machiavelli’s Prince, Cesare Borgia died… In Viana, Spain, this legendary Captain General never stopped dreaming of his own grand future despite four years of imprisonment, agony and boredom. With every fiber in his body, he hates pope Julius II, […]

Obscure Borgia Related places: (2) Cesena

This past summer, I finally had the chance to visit the beautiful little town of Cesena.  Tucked away in the hills of the Romagna my Italian friends called it ‘una città bellina’ (a cute little town), but they wondered why on earth I would want to visit that ‘forgotten’ part of Italy and not rather […]

Obscure Borgia Related Places: (1) The Castle of la Motte-Feuilly

I feel so blessed that I have experienced many venues related to the Borgias; Rome, the Vatican, Cesena, Senigallia, Milan, Forli, Imola, Spoleto, Ferarra and so many other significant venues where I more than eagerly feasted my eyes on walls, floors, ceilings, beams, frescos, streets, court yards and battlements knowing and feeling, and yes, truly […]

How did the Borgias celebrate Christmas?

Well, like we do today, they began the Christmas month with advent, and if they were devout, which this cardinal family should have been (at least to a certain extent 😊), they spent the weeks up to the 24th in penitence, perhaps abstained from intercourse or fasted until Christmas Eve. From the ninth day before […]

Il Valentino ‘made by’ Francois Arnaud and Mark Ryder

All Borgia children were blessed with an exceptional physical attractiveness and we have it on more than one authority that Cesare, Rodrigo Borgia’s oldest son with Vannozza dei Catanei, was considered ‘the handsomest man in Italy’. Yet even today, we are still not sure if those handsome looks were truly ‘good looking’ (the notion of […]

Masks and Syphilis in Cesare Borgia’s Time

It’s almost Halloween; the time of the year when shops everywhere sell creepy outfits, dangling skeletons and scary masks. During the Italian Renaissance, masks were an everyday sight. Some were creepy such as the grim pest mask, but many were exceptionally beautiful handcrafted pieces of art. In 16th century Venice, balls and banquets were organized […]

Cesare Borgia, Prince of the Renaissance

On this day in 1475, one of Italy’s greatest Renaissance men, Cesare Borgia, was born in Subiaco. From a precocious little boy, he grew up to be extremely intelligent, physically strong, courageous and attractive. Some even said he was Italy’s most handsome man. Destined for the cloth, he became a cardinal at 17 but fate […]