The Castiglione Countess, a dandy from La Spezia

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Observes passersby in front of her house with a strange monocle is the Countess of Castiglione, who had a father from La Spezia, with her original personality made her beauty a dandy icon, while playing with the strategies and tactics of diplomatics.

Virginia Oldoini was born in Florence in 1837, daughter of the Marquis of La Spezia Filippo Oldoini and cousin of Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, who a few years later in Spezia put his eyes to build a formidable military base at the time, taking advantage of the natural shape of the Gulf.
The beautiful building that was at the time almost in front of the sea, and which still can be seen in Piazza Sant’Agostino, is the residence of the Oldoini family. Virginia certainly very much loves her home in La Spezia, which she calls “the beloved village”, visited by officers and aristocrats that make Virginia an object of adulation. It can say that probably in La Spezia Countess becomes aware of her own beauty and its instrumental value.
She then moved to Turin, which in the decade preparatory to Italy’s unification is a real outbreak of patriotic movements and center of politics for the affirmation of the Italian Kingdom internationally. Beautiful, intelligent and very unconventional, Virginia is called “diplomatic of the bed” for her ability to weave influential loving relationships. The powerful cousin did not hesitate to send it to France, the Court of Napoleon III, with the belief that she can help him convince the sovereign alliance.
What really affects the beautiful Virginia about the history of Italy is not known for sure, but you know that there are many propaganda operations, media and politics to win the sympathy of the French ally. It is probably a bit of a gear that eventually works, yet she claims for life her key role for the unification process.

Dandy icon and model of the early days of photography

Obsessed by her appearance, very vain and unable to remain anonymous, she likes to surprise with provocative stage appearances, buy clothes and launch bizarre fashions. Once, to go to a ball she rolled naked in the glue and then in feathers. On another occasion at the theater, where all were expecting her naked, she appears dressed as a nun. Many can not stand her, and it is thought that the attempt on Napoleon III in her Parisian home is designed precisely to discredit her, perhaps by the Empress.
Becomes the sought-after models by the most important photographers of the time, they love her ability to make each pose theatrical and non-conformist and make it the subject of real surreal artwork.
Her unconventionality and exhibitionism, contempt of normality and the desire to be part of an elite originality make it a true icon of the typically British and French love for excess and fine provocation which was dandyism.

She works closely with the imperial photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson, who photographs her most famous portrait that depicts her, twenty-five years old , looking through a small monocle. La Spezia people recognize pictured La Spezia attitude in the Countess who seems to represent the dialect  motto”Mia che te mio,” look, I look at you! The photograph also inspired Vaccarone sculptor for the bust, which is at the main door entrance of Virginia Oldoini’shome.



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