With her marriage to property developer Edoardo ‘Edo’ Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Beatrice – the Queen’s fifth eldest grandchild – becomes part of one of Italy’s oldest aristocratic families.
As well as becoming a ‘Contessa’ (a purely symbolic title in post-war Italy) Her Royal Highness’s husband will also inherit the family’s grand residence – a large neoclassical palazzo widely regarded as one of the finest in Italy.
The palace sits in Ponte San Pietro, a small town in the province of Bergamo. Around an hour’s drive from Lake Como, it has reportedly been part of the family estate since the 13th century.
Back then, the Mozzis were a powerful merchant dynasty emanating from their namesake town in Bergamo. They owned numerous large properties across the region, including a castle in Ponte San Pietro that became the family seat.
The castle was converted into the current palace sometime in the 18th century on the orders of then-owner Count Enrico Mozzi. The count’s granddaughter eventually married Edo’s great-great-great-grandfather around 1810, at which point the Mozzi and Mapelli names became intertwined.
Documents suggest the palace was built by a local architect called Giovannie Moroni. But its similarities to well-known landmarks suggest Moroni may have taken his lead from a more famous architect – Giuseppe Piermarini, creator of Milan’s celebrated opera house.
Both the Mapelli Mozzi palace and the Teatro alla Scala are notable for their stylish peaked roofs, which culminate in a decorated tympanum. In the case of the palace, an eagle – the old Mozzi coat of arms – sits at the top.
The palace’s design also bears a distinct similarity to another Piermarini project – the Royal Villa of Monza, built nearby in 1777 as a palace for the region’s Austrian rulers. Both buildings are notable for their symmetry, their long ornate facades, and their extensive use of classical arched windows.
Given the palace – sometimes referred to as Villa Mapelli Mozzi – has remained a family residence through its existence, there is no detailed prospectus as to what’s inside. Though, for a rough sense of scale, you can look to the family’s other historic villa – some 20 miles away in the town of Casatenovo.
Sometimes confused with the larger palace, the baroque villa is actually owned by Edo’s second cousin once removed. Built on the site of an ancient monastery, the 13-bedroom residence (which also boasts two separate libraries) is surrounded by acres of parkland styled as an English landscape garden.
At the heart of the villa is the piano nobile – or ‘noble floor’ – which contains the main reception of the house and its master bedrooms. The house is also rich with period features, including stucco ceilings and Venetian marble flooring.
In recent years, the villa has been used as a wedding venue and boutique holiday let. Travellers will be pleased that it’s currently available on Airbnb at the modest cost of £1,200 per night. Just don’t expect to see the Royal couple there: sources close to Edo say the family link is very distant.
Fancy getting yourself a more permanent base amongst the old aristocracy? One local expert says that would-be buyers need to do their homework first, not least since properties of a similar calibre aren’t always advertised directly.
Sara Zanotta is the founder of Lakeside Real Estate, which has helped foreign buyers find luxury properties in the Bergamo and Lake Como region. Potential buyers should contact estate agents directly, she says, so they can be added to a private list.
‘The process itself is very quick and extremely private,’ she adds. ‘Buyers are often expected to sign a non-disclosure agreement when visiting the property, or before receiving photos or information via email.’
As for the crown jewels – Edo’s old family palace – dreamers shouldn’t go getting their hopes up yet. Having run in the family for centuries, it currently belongs to Edo’s Italian-born father, Count Alessandro – a dual British citizen.
Having been educated at Downside, the Catholic boarding school in Somerset, Mapelli Mozzi senior went on to ski for Britain at the 1972 winter olympics, before working as an art collector. The palace is said to contain much of his personal collection.
Given the Count said in February that he’d yet to meet his future daughter-in-law, we can probably assume that Princess Beatrice has yet to visit her new family home. Although that will surely change soon.
Some royal watchers have even speculated that, should the couple tire of press attention in Britain, Beatrice and Edo might relocate to Italy in their own less-dramatic version of Megxit.
That might well seem unlikely. But then again who hasn’t found themselves looking at an old Italian villa and having a little daydream.
Tempted? Here are some luxury Bergamo properties for sale: