Once upon a time there was Francesca Vacca Augusta: life and death of a countess. – RB

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Once upon a time there was Francesca Vacca Augusta: life and death of a countess. – RB

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Once upon a time there was Francesca Vacca Augusta: life and death of a countess. – RB

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Once upon a time there was Francesca Vacca Augusta: life and death of a countess. – RB

When I think back to the countess Francesca Vacca Agusta there are two images that come to mind: she getting off the plane together with Maurizio Raggio, interrupting her golden hiding in Mexico after the scandal Tangentopoli , in which she was accused of money laundering and later sentenced to one year and two months, which she will serve in her penthouse in Milan, and a black and white photo together with Gianni Agnelli and her first husband, Count Corradino Agusta, from whom she will inherit the noble title, a billionaire annuity, half a dozen apartments and the villa that will become the stage for her death, as absurd as it is tragic.

Francesca was dazzlingly beautiful, a mass of auburn hair framing a face reminiscent of that of the actresses of the time, one of them all Rita Hayworth in the magical interpretation of Gilda, and she wanted to emerge, aimed at social climbing, the one that allows you to live on income, to travel the world by attending the international jet set, a breakfast with the Shah of Persia , and a party in the company of those who count, the Pirellis, the Mondadori, to make friends with the most powerful politicians of the moment, those who will fill your living rooms, but who then, at the right moment, will ask you for help that will cost you a voluntary exile and house arrest .

Yet in those wonderful green eyes there has always been a veil of melancholy, as if to remember that money can buy everything, but not happiness , the one that the countess craved more than anything else, and that she chased, surrounding herself with companions, perhaps not completely at her height, because when, with the separation from Count Agusta, she becomes one of the most rich in the square, the fear that people may approach her for her money and not for what her soul can offer, becomes more and more present, becomes a worm that eats her soul, accompanied first by champagne, then dal whiskey .

Vacca Augusta

Francesca Vacca Agusta (IPA)

Yet Francesca wants to believe it and gets engaged again with a blond man who loves the good life and beautiful women, who was said to have a weakness for those who frequented the coast, with mink around his neck and swollen wallet, and with him she moved to Villa Altachiara , inherited from the former who wanted to get rid of it given the halo of black mystery that ‘accompanied. In fact, perhaps not everyone knows that this house was built in the late nineteenth century in Victorian style by the discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun , an English lord, who just after that discovery, died badly, as did his niece, whose body fell from that cliff that years later will become the scene of the last steps of that woman as beautiful as unhappy.

Another lover, another ride, other cruises, other cocktails, sleeping pills, the cocaine to stay awake, Craxi’s treasure hidden in briefcases and hidden in secret accounts, the daring escape to Mexico, the years of tequila and tortillas, the smile that fades to make room for the demons of the mind, the return to Italy with his arrest at airport like any criminal, she who boasted dinners with the Shah of Persia finds herself locked in the maze of her memories and between the walls of a villa that suddenly becomes her prison, gilded, but still a prison.

He separates from Maurizio Raggio , who will continue to want in his life, no longer as a companion, but as a fixer . In fact, he will leave the administration of his estate to him, inside Altachiara there will always be a room reserved for him, the red room, and he throws himself into the arms of a new love, such Tirso Chazaro, called Tito, the Mexican, with a sunburned face and perennially slicked-back hair that seems glued to the nape of her neck, surrounding herself with a single friend, a lady-in-waiting in which she reviews her youth, Susanna Torretta , who becomes her confidant, her dispenser of joy, to which she opens the doors of the villa, to never feel alone, she who, perhaps, has always been alone.

Vacca Augusta 1

Fiumicino, after being extradited from Mexico where she had taken refuge in October 1994. (Handle)

But now Francesca is no longer present to herself, she has become a prisoner of her mind, at least according to what those who will be witnesses of her death tell, who will never be able to testify to anything, not being present at that, which will be indicated by the investigators such as the fatal fall from that promontory witness of festivities, pomp, perhaps love and certain death. It is January 8 of 2001 the countess woke up badly, it is 12 and she goes around the house naked holding a bottle of whiskey, Maurizio is in Miami, in the house there are Tito and Susanna who are in their rooms, and the Polish maid Teresa Podbial who walks invisibly in those thirty rooms surrounded by the silence of three hectares of cedars, lemons, cypresses and rosemary. They say that the countess had started playing hide and seek to be found by anyone of the three or four present, she was suffering from a form of ” infantile regression ”that was unleashed in moments of difficulty, when loneliness and the need for affection became unbearable, day and night he desperately asked for a little attention. And like a little girl she hid, hoping that someone would come looking for her. A manic form that in the past had manifested itself a thousand times as will be discovered by the testimonies of relatives, friends and above all doctors of the latter.

So it happens that morning too, she locks herself in a closet, they will find her after an hour with a bottle of whiskey in one hand, with a pack of Stilnox in the other and completely naked, Tirso will make her vomit, taking her back to her room. Then a series of phone calls, to his brother, to the lawyer and then reappear in a white bathrobe with the phone in his hand. He still raves staring into the darkness beyond the window, then suddenly the decision to go out for a bath. They won’t see it anymore. And they won’t find her for the next two weeks , when the currents return her swollen, lifeless body to Cap Bénat, near Toulon. The first case of crime that invaded the salons of Italian TV, suicide, murder, misfortune, everything was said and the opposite of everything, Tirso and Susanna were suspected, interrogated, investigated and eventually acquitted, the judiciary three years later will close the case as “accidental death” as a result of his stupid game of hiding behind the terrace wall, as he had done previously.

The boredom, the alcohol, the lack of clarity, the slippery carpet of leaves, the rain and the eighty meters of vertical rock did the rest. Once the case was closed, the six testaments left by the countess were opened, Raggio and Tirso agreed on the inheritance away from the courts and six years ago Villa Altachiara was sold to a Russian oligarch. To this day that jewel perched on the rocks that plunges into the sea, still appears wrapped in scaffolding, suffering, but determined to return to its old splendor. In the hope that the new owner will be able to be happier than his previous tenants.

Villa Altachiara

Villa Altachiara in Portofino (Ansa)

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