|Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection|
The engagement between HRH Princess Bianca of Savoy-Aosta and Count Giberto Arrivabene-Valenti-Gonzaga was announced in February 1988. The wedding date was set for September 12, 1988, at Il Borro.
The bride, then 21 years old, was the eldest of three children of HRH Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, and his first wife. HRH Princess Claude of France. She is a descendant of Queen Victoria through her paternal grandmother, HRH Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, second daughter of King Constantine I of the Hellenes and Princess Sophie of Prussia.
Princess Bianca and Count Giberto share a common ancestry to King Louis XIV of France through King Ferdinando IV of the Two Sicilies and his wife, Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria. Bianca is a descendant from their daughter, Marie-Amelie, who married Louis-Philippe, King of the French. Giberto descends from Marie-Amelie's older brother, King Francisco I of the Two-Sicilies and Archduchess Klementine of Austria.
More than 1400 guests attended the wedding celebrations, which were held on the Duke of Aosta's estate, Il Borro, in Tuscany.
350 attended the church ceremony.
It was the first marriage of a member of the Italian royal family since before 1946 when King Umberto II and his family went into exile after a failed referendum on the monarchy that led to the establishment of the Italian Republic. King Umberto and his male-line descendants were barred from setting foot in Italy until 2002. His consort, Queen Marie-José was also barred from returning to Italy.
The law that exiled Umberto and his male descendants did not apply to collateral branches of the Italian royal family. This included the Aosta branch.
Princess Bianca wore an Enrico Coveri designed gown that included an "exquisite hand-embroidered white gown trailed by a 12-metre-long tulled veil." The family Savoy-Aosta tiara remained in a bank in Switzerland so Giberto's mother, Graziella (Brandolini d'Adda) lent the bride a small family tiara. Bianca's hairdresser was the well-known Alexandre de Paris.
Queen Marie-José was granted permission by the Italian government to attend the wedding. She was representing her son, Crown Prince Vittorio Emanuele, who was banned by the Italian constitution from setting foot on Italian soil. Vittorio Emanuele's wife, Marina, also attended the wedding.
The guest list included members of European royal families and Italian noble houses: Princess Caroline of Monaco and her husband, Stefano Casiraghi, King Michael and Queen Anne and Princess Margarita of Romania, Prince Michael of Greece Princess Maria Beatrice and Princess Maria Pia of Italy, the latter with her children and her partner, Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma, Archduke Robert and Archduchess Margherita (nee Savoy-Aosta, a first cousin of the Duke of Aosta), of Austria, an their sons, Archdukes Lorenz and Martin, Ferdinando, Duke of Castro, and his son, Carlo, the Duke of Calabria, the Duke of Cadiz, and Fiammetta Frescobaldi, who had recently announced her engagement to Prince and Duke Charles-Louis of Arenberg. The bride's maternal grandmother, the Countess of Paris, was also present.
The wedding culminated after several days of celebrations including a lavish party at the Duke's home at Mansi, followed by two more receptions, one hosted in Florence by Princess Claude.
The post-wedding reception took place at Il Borro and featured a two-metered cake that was designed by Princess Bianca. The "gigantic creation" included 55 pounds of blackberries.
Princess Bianca and Count Giberto settled in his family home, Palazzo Papadopoli, in Venice, where they raised their five children, Viola, Vera, Mafalda, Maddalena, and Leonardo.
The upkeep of a crumbling Palazzo that has been in Giberto's family was proving difficult and costly. In 2006, the Count made arrangements for the Aman hotel chain to open a luxury hotel. The Count maintains the freehold and the family live on the top floor.
In 1993, the Duke of Aosta sold the Il Borro estate to Ferrucio Ferragamo.
|Gente Mese, a 122 page magazine, commemorating Bianca and Giberto's wedding.|
Today, Princess Bianca heads Christie's Venice office, while Count Giberto is on the board of directors of Aon, an Italian insurance company and is a noted glass designer. The two eldest daughters, Viola and Vera, run their own company, ViBi Venezia, specializing in handmade Furlane shoes.