A Venetian Affair: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century

By Andrea Di Robilant

Within the waning days of Venice’s glory within the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo was once scion to at least one the city’s oldest patrician households. on the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the gorgeous, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mom and British father. as a result of their dramatically diversified positions in society, they can now not marry. And Giustiniana’s mom, afraid that an affair might destroy her daughter’s probabilities to shape a stronger union, forbade them to work out one another. Her prohibition in basic terms fueled their hope and so all started their torrid, mystery seven-year-affair, enlisting assistance from a number of intimates and servants (willing to hazard their very own positions) to travel love letters from side to side and to assist facilitate their clandestine conferences. finally, Giustiniana chanced on herself pregnant and he or she became for aid to the notorious Casanova–himself infatuated along with her.

Two and part centuries later, the incredible tale of this star-crossed couple is advised in a wide ranging narrative, re-created partly from the passionate, clandestine letters Andrea and Giustiniana wrote to one another.

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Their first son, Richard, was once born in 1744, by way of William in 1745. A fourth daughter, Anna Amelia, was once born in 1748 and died years later. Mrs. Anna mustn't ever were a lot enjoyable to be round. possibly to catch up on sins of her formative years, she grew to become a fierce Catholic who dragged her little ones to church and pestered her Anglican husband forever to transform. She was once a strict disciplinarian, bent on giving as conventional an schooling as attainable to Giustiniana and her more youthful brothers and sisters: song, dance, French, and little else. Sir Richard used to be particularly content material to depart the upbringing of the kids to his spouse and retreat to his well-stocked library. As his gout worsened, he withdrew from family members existence much more. decades later, Giustiniana remembered him sitting with a ebook in his favourite armchair “the six months of the yr he didn’t spend in mattress. ” 14 regardless of his terrible actual , Sir Richard built a detailed bond with Giustiniana. They shared a love of literature, and he gave her the keys to his library. From a tender age she learn eagerly yet with out counsel or strategy, relocating randomly from trip books to l. a. Fontaine’s fables to heavy-going tomes reminiscent of Paolo Sarpi’s heritage of the Council of Trent—a publication the Inquisition had banned for its sympathetic view of the Reformation. Giustiniana used to be stuck analyzing it secretly. From the little we all know of Sir Richard, he should have chuckled at his daughter’s temerity. Anna, nevertheless, had a healthy and threatened to fasten Giustiniana up in a convent. Sir Richard died in 1751, and the subsequent yr Mrs. Anna dragged her 5 youngsters to London to say their inheritance. It used to be an extended, tedious trip. decades later, Giustiniana might bear in mind merely the soiled resorts, the undesirable nutrition, and “all these church buildings [in Germany] so heavy with adorns. ” yet she enjoyed London—“the parks, the noise within the streets, the beautiful hats . . . and the final air of opulence”—and she might have gladly stayed on. “I had discovered English good sufficient, was once really strong at dealing with a fork, and used to be awaiting to place my new abilities to stable use. ”15 Mrs. Anna, despite the fact that, was once there for the cash. while she ultimately obtained her fingers on a few of it, because of the intercession of the children’s father or mother, Robert d’Arcy, Earl of Holderness, a former British Resident in Venice, the relatives packed up once again and headed home—this time taking the extra friendly course, through Paris. Giustiniana was once no longer but 16 while she arrived in Paris along with her mom and her brothers and sisters. yet she didn't pass left out in the course of her short remain. Casanova met her in the home of Alvise Mocenigo, the Venetian ambassador. 40 years later, he nonetheless had a vibrant reminiscence of that first come across. “Her character,” he wrote in his memoirs, “was already delineated to perfection in her attractive face. ”16 Giustiniana enjoyed Parisian life—“the theater, the beauty of fellows, the rouge on women’s cheeks”17—but Mrs. Anna used to be worried to come back to Venice, so that they made their means domestic, taking with them a French governess, Toinon, who was once a lot enjoyed for her ability in combing the women’ hair.

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