Rosa Vercellana


Rosa Vercellana was born in Nice on June 3rd 1833, daughter of the soldier Giovanni Battista Vercellana.

Her father was a standard bearer in the Napoleonic Imperial Guard but in 1814 refused to follow Napoleon who ran away from Elba and became guard of King Carlo Alberto. Rosa Vercellana first met Victor Emmanuel II in 1847 when her family moved to Racconigi: the future King of Italy was 27 years old, was married and had already four children. She was 14 years old. After the first secret rendezvous, the girl moved to the Hunting Estate of Racconigi, in a dependance of the park. Victor Emmanuel II stayed with Rosa Vercellana all his life, even if he had a lot of mistresses, and had two children by her: Vittoria (1848-1905) and Emanuele (1851-1894). 

Their affair caused scandal and ostility in the Court; however, on April 11th 1858, Victor Emmanuel named Rosa Countess of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda and buyed for her Sommariva Perno castle. In 1863 she moved to the Royal Apartments of Borgo Castello, inside of the current Regional Park La Mandria. This residence that was not part of the Crown but private property of the King, has been always the favourite one of the couple, since Victor Emmanuel II loved to refuge there to hunt and ran away from Court life.. In 1864, Rosina followed the King to Florence, establishing in Villa La Petraia. In 1869, the King fell gravily ill and fearing death he married Rosa Vercellana, on 18th October, in religious ceremony. 

The morganatic marriage, that is without the Queen title, took place on 1st October 1877 in Rome. Victor Emmanuel died three months later, on 9th January 1878. Rosa Vercellana spent her last years of life in Sommariva Perno Castle, in Turin and in Pisa, where she died in 1885. Savoy family refused to allow her to be buried in the Pantheon since she has never been a Queen; for this reason and in open challenge with the Court, her children had a mausoleum built for her in a similar form (if on a smaller scale) in Turin, then called “Mausoleo della Bela Rosin”.

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