At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

23 December 2018

Carla Bruni - former First Lady of France

Ex-model and singer who married Nicolas Sarkozy

Carla Bruni had been one of the world's leading models
Carla Bruni had been one of the
world's leading models
Carla Bruni, the model and singer who became the wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was born on this day in 1967 in Turin.

She and Sarkozy were married in February 2008, just three months after they met at a dinner party. Sarkozy, who was in office from May 2007 until May 2012, had recently divorced his second wife.

Previously, Bruni had spent 10 years as a model, treading the catwalk for some of the biggest designers and fashion houses in Europe and establishing herself as one of the top 20 earners in the modelling world.

After retiring from the modelling world, she enjoyed considerable success as a songwriter and then a singer. Music remains a passion, her most recent album released only last year. To date, her record sales stand at more than five million.

Born Carla Gilberta Bruni Tedeschi, she is legally the daughter of Italian concert pianist Marisa Borini and industrialist and classical composer Alberto Bruni Tedeschi. 

Carla Bruni met Nicolas Sarkozy just three months before they were married
Carla Bruni met Nicolas Sarkozy just
three months before they were married
However, she revealed in a magazine interview soon after she and Sarkozy were married at the presidential residence the Élysée Palace in Paris, that her her biological father is the Italian-born Brazilian businessman Maurizio Remmert, who was a classical guitarist when he met Marisa Borini at a concert in Turin. They embarked on an affair that lasted six years.

Even without her two successful careers, Bruni would have been a wealthy woman. Through her legal father, she is heiress to the fortune created by the Italian cable manufacturing company CEAT, founded in the 1920s by his father, Virginio Bruni Tedeschi, which subsequently moved into tyre production and is now based in India.

Carla Bruni has lived in France from the age of seven, the family having left Italy in 1975 over fears they would be a target for kidnap by the Red Brigades, the left-wing terrorist group who kidnapped many wealthy or politically important individuals in the 1970s and 80s.

She was educated initially at a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland, before returning to Paris to study art and architecture at the Sorbonne, although in the event she left school at the age of 19 to become a model.

Bruni signed with a prestigious agency in 1987, and after being selected for an advertising campaign for jeans manufactured by the American company Guess?, soon began to attract attention.

Sarkozy had been married twice before he met Carla Bruni
Sarkozy had been married twice
before he met Carla Bruni
Over the next few years she worked for designers and fashion houses including Christian Dior, Givenchy, Paco Rabanne, Yves Saint-Laurent, Chanel and Versace.

At her peak, with her image appearing on billboards and magazine covers constantly, she was earning up to $7.5 million (€5.44 million) a year, which put her among the 20 highest-paid fashion models in the world.

Bruni enjoyed a jet-set lifestyle and dated some of the world's most famous men, including veteran rockers Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton.

The love of music instilled in her as a child never left her, however, and in 1997, at the age of 30, she retired from modelling to focus on her music. She had always played the guitar and started singing lessons. She sent her lyrics to the French singer Julien Clerc in 1999, which he used as the basis for six tracks on his 2000 album Si j'étais elle.

Her own first album, Quelqu'un m'a dit (Someone Told Me) was released in 2003 and was a surprise hit, selling more than a million copies.  It spent 34 weeks in the top 10 of the French albums chart.  Several songs featured in movies or television commercials.

The cover of Carla Bruni's latest album
She has since released four more albums and written songs for other artists, including the rock guitarist Louis Bertignac.  In her second album, No Promises, she set to music poems by William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson, W. H. Auden and Dorothy Parker among others.

Although Sarkozy represents the centre-right Republican party, Bruni’s own political leanings were to the left before they were married, although her status as First Lady gave her no powers and generally she has was careful to avoid being drawn into political debate.

She has used her profile to support a number of charities, particularly those concerned with protecting mothers and children and fighting HIV. In 2009, launched the Fondation Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, to promote access to culture and knowledge.

Bruni has been more outspoken on matters related to her charitable work. She has been critical of the Catholic Church for continuing to oppose the use of condoms - a proven way of limiting the spread of AIDS - even though the church spends millions of dollars on caring for HIV/AIDS patients.

She and Sarkozy are the parents of a girl, Giulia, who was born in 2011. Bruni has a son, Aurélien, from a previous relationship with philosophy professor Raphaël Enthoven.

The castle at Moncalieri used to be the home of Italy's King Victor Emmanuel II in the late 19th century
The castle at Moncalieri used to be the home of Italy's
King Victor Emmanuel II in the late 19th century
Travel tip:

Bruni’s father, Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, came from Moncalieri, a town of almost 58,000 inhabitants about 8km (5 miles) south of the centre of Turin and part of the greater metropolitan area. It is notable for a 12th century castle, enlarged in the 15th century, which was for a time a favoured residence of Maria Clotilde and King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and now is listed among the World Heritage Site Residences of the Royal House of Savoy.  Since 1919 it has housed a school for training carabinieri officers.

Hotels in Moncalieri from TripAdvisor

Turin's colossal Mole Antonelliana is a familiar landmark on the city's skyline
Turin's colossal Mole Antonelliana is a
familiar landmark on the city's skyline
Travel tip:

The city of Turin, the traditional seat of the Savoy dynasty, is an elegant city with several royal palaces, a 15th-century cathedral that houses the Shroud of Turin and a city centre with 12 miles of arcaded streets, dotted with historic cafés an fine restaurants, many to be found around the Via Po, Turin’s famous promenade linking Piazza Vittorio Veneto with Piazza Castello, or nearby Piazza San Carlo, one of the city’s main squares. In the 19th century, the city’s cafès were popular with writers, artists, philosophers, musicians and politicians. One of the city’s major landmarks is the Mole Antonelliana, at 167.5 m (550 ft) the tallest unreinforced brick building in the world.  Originally built as a synagogue, the building is now home to a film industry museum, the Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Mole is an Italian word for a building of monumental proportions.

Turin hotels from

More reading:

The meteoric rise of Gianni Versace

Santo Versace - the business brain behind the empire

The Red Brigades and the kidnapping of Aldo Moro

Also on this day:

1896: The birth of writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

1916: The birth of film director Dino Risi

1956: The birth of racing driver Michele Alboreto


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