20 November 2015

Queen Margherita of Savoy

Princess and fashion icon who became Queen of Italy


Margherita of Savoy became Queen consort
of Italy by marriage to Umberto I
Margherita Maria Teresa Giovanna of Savoy was born on this day in 1851 in Turin.

The little girl, who was to later become the Queen consort of Italy, was the daughter of Prince Ferdinand Duke of Genoa and Princess Elisabeth of Saxony. She was educated to a high standard and renowned as a charming person with a lively curiosity to learn. A tall, stately blonde, she was not considered a beauty but nonetheless had many admirers.

Having first been suggested to marry Prince Charles of Romania, she instead married her first cousin Umberto, Prince of Piedmont, in April 1868 when she was just 16. The following year she gave birth to Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples, who later became King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. He was to be their only child.


Margherita was crowned Queen of Italy in Naples when Umberto succeeded his father to the throne in January 1878 and she was warmly welcomed by the Neapolitan people.


The city of Naples took Margherita to their hearts, even naming one of their famous pizzas after her
The city of Naples took Margherita to their hearts, even
naming one of their famous pizzas after her
It was not a particularly good marriage for Margherita. Umberto maintained an affair with a long-term lover, Eugenia Attendolo Bolognini, and the breakdown in their relationship may explain the fact that Victor Emmanuel would be their only child. However, they never made their personal separation known to the public, maintaining a harmonious partnership in their working life. 

Always stylishly dressed, in outfits designed and made in Italy and often covered in pretty brooches and pearls, Margherita quickly became a fashion icon and was said to be much more popular than her husband, who was assassinated in 1900.

When her son succeeded his father and became King of Italy, Margherita devoted herself to charitable works and to encouraging cultural organisations.

Queen Margherita died in 1926 at her home in Bordighera in Liguria.

The mountain hut on the top of Punta Gnifetti remains the highest building in Europe at 4,554m
The mountain hut on the top of Punta Gnifetti remains
the highest building in Europe at 4,554m
Travel tip:

A mountain hut is named after Queen Margherita on a peak of the Monte Rosa massif, which is in the Piedmont region on the Swiss-Italian border. The Queen made the climb to Punta Gnifetti for the hut’s inauguration in 1893. At 4,554 metres (14,941 ft) above sea level, it is the highest building in Europe. The closest settlement is Alagna Valsesia, a small village high in the Valsesia alpine valley in the province of Vercelli in Piedmont.

The pizza margherita combines tomato, mozzarella and green basil leaves
The pizza margherita combines tomato,
mozzarella and green basil leaves
Travel tip:

Pizzeria Brandi in Naples still proudly claims to be the ‘queen’s pizzeria’. Despite the debate about who first invented Pizza Margherita, with its tomato, mozzarella and basil topping, which replicates the colours of the Italian flag, it is worth visiting Pizzeria Brandi in Salita Sant’Anna di Palazzo in Naples to taste their version.


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