I posted a photo on my facebook page today and to my great surprise it went viral. As you already know I bought a new bycicle: in fact the Italian Government provided a financial aid up to 60% of the price to anyone who wanted to buy a new bike and go around the city with it. As riding public busses, streetcars, trains and metro is still subject to some restrictions (limited number of seats available), the Government believes that inviting people to use bycicles will both reduce pollution and will also prevent large gatherings on public transports (which by the way is pretty efficient in Torino).
During one of my bike rides in Torino I stopped at a place that is among the least known and doesn’t see any visitor, although in my opinion is among the beautiful places in town anyone should go visit during a long stay: the Mausoleum of Bela Rosin.
I wrote an article already about it but, as many on Facebook started sending me messages to ask more about it, I decided to publish it again as it might be interesting for my blog readers too.
I really am enjoying a lot riding my bike in Turin. There are so many things to learn and others to re-discover. My latest bike tour took me to the edges of the municipality of Turin, just before heading to the Hunting Lodge of Stupinigi. In fact, if you take a left before entering the long boulevard taking to the facade of Stupinigi, the bike lane takes you to another very beutiful place, often neglected and forgotten, even by the locals, which also is not included into any city tour I am aware of: The Mausoleum of the Beautiful Rose (la bela Rusin). The building looks exactly like the Pantheon in Rome, although it was built 2000 years later, on a smaller scale, for a reason which is the most romantic one.
Many do not know that before 1946 Italy was a Kingdom ruled by the House of Savoy. (the Country turned into a Republic after world war II). The very first king of Italy was called Vittorio Emanuele II, also referred to as the “Father of the Country”. He was born in Turin, although after the unification of Italy in 1861, which made the city the first Capital of Italy, he had to move to Florence at first and then to Rome, where he is buried, inside the Pantheon, the roman pagan temple later converted into a Church. Vittorio Emanuele II was married to a woman of the Austrian Royal Family, Maria Adelaide Hofburg-Lorena, who died in 1855, thus before he became King of Italy. The couple had 4 children. At the age of 26 the King casually met a very young women, 16 years old, from a very low social census, who he madly feel in love with. The sentiment was reciprocated by the girl whose name was Rosa Vercellana, commonly referred to as “la bela Rusin” (the Beautiful Rose). She became the real “love of his life”.
Not being a member of a noble family, for a long time she couldn’t marry the King, as counsellors and ministries wanted the King to marry another woman from a European Royal Family. Therefore the couple had to live sort of a hidden love for long. When the members of the court finally understood the King would not renounce to marry the girl, agreement was made for a “morganatic” marriage which prevented the new king’s wife and their children to get to the throne. The couple accepted, as their feeling was true and solid. Thus, Rose has never been the Queen of Italy, although a new title was created for her: Countess of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda (a wine making farm which was the property of the King).
The couple had 2 children, Victoria and Emanuele Alberto, who never were treated as Royals. Their Family name, in fact was “Guerrieri”. The king died in 1878 in Rome. Decision was taken to bury the Kings of Italy inside the Pantheon, where his tomb is still visible today. When Rose died in Pisa, in 1885, , not being the “Queen” of Italy, her children were not allowed to bury her close to her husband, at the Pantheon. Thus, Victoria and Emanuele Alberto, their children, decided to build a copy of the Pantheon in Turin to give proper burial to their mother, who was the one and only love of the King. Thus, a building shaped exactly like the Pantheon was completed in 1888 and Rosa (the Beautiful Rose), rest in peace inside a Mauseoleum that looks exactly the same as her husband’s.
History is amazing, isn’t it? Beside wars, conflicts, invasions and conqueries we also find incredible love stories that left a sign in our cities and, obviously in our hearts. The Mausoleum of Bela Rusin is a symble of resilience: she couldn’t be the Queen of Italy, but she definitly has been a Queen of Hearts.
Note: the body of Bela Rusin is now at the Monumental Cemetery of Turin, together with those of her children because in 1943 the Mausoluem was desecrated by some thieves looking for jewels.
I rode my bike back home after saying a little prayer for all those lovers who, for whatever reason, never made it to live the love they longed for.