Castiglione, Virginia Oldoini, countess Verasis de

BORN 22 Mar 1835, Firenze, Toscana - DIED 28 Nov 1899, Paris
BIRTH NAME Oldoini, Virginia
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 85, ligne 03, G, 10)

Virginia, countess of Castiglione was a noblewoman from Tuscany. She married Count Francesco Verasis di Castiglione in 1854, but she didn't love him. He had connections with court of King Victor Emmanuel II and Cavour send her to Paris in 1856 to persuade Napoleon III to support Piedmont against the Austrians.

She posessed a great beauty and Napoleon III was immediately interested in her. During the summer she became his mistress. The emperor visited her frequently, but she was unable to influence him politically. When a group of Italians tried to murder him after a visit to her in April, 1857, the affair ended. She was accused of spying and left for Italy.

Around 1861 she returned to Paris and settled in Passy. She was separated from her husband now and it was said that some of her lovers paid her up to a million francs for a night with her. Together with the photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson she recreated the great moments of her life in a series of photographs. She spent her last years in a small apartment on the Place Vendome. Her curtains were always drawn and the mirrors were covered because she couldn't bear the sight of herself after she lost her beauty. Only at night she would leave her appartment.

She died in 1899. Robert de Montesquiou wrote her biography. It took him thirteen years and it was published in 1913.

Related persons
• was painted by Gordigiani, Michele
• was written about by Montesquiou-Fezensac, Robert, Comte de
• was the lover of Napoleon III Bonaparte
• met Thiers, Adolphe

14/6/1856The Prince Imperial is baptised at the Nôtre Dame in Paris. Napoleon III was involved in a love affair with 'la Castiglione', but he was present together with empress Eugénie. It was a sunny day and the theatres in Pairs opened their doors for free. There was dancing in the streets and there were fireworks at the Place de la Concorde. [Napoleon III Bonaparte]


The grave of La Castiglione at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (06 Mar 1995)


• Bierman, John, Napoleon III and his Carnival Empire, Sphere Books, London, 1990

Castonier, Elisabeth

Published: 03 Dec 2006
Last update: 25 Apr 2022