The beautiful Empress stayed twice in Sanremo
The life of Elisabeth of Wittelsbach, better known as Princess Sissi, began as a fairy tale: beautiful and charming, she married Emperor Franz Joseph I. In the collective imagination, Sissi has the features of Romy Schneider, the star of a film series on the Empress and as beautiful and destined for a tragic fate as Sissi.
Sissi loved travelling, but her passion became a need at a mature age, in order to escape the sufferings that marked her life. Her long wandering across Europe and the Mediterranean brought her twice to Sanremo, in 1890 and in 1898.
According to official accounts, on her first visit in October 1890, the Empress arrived in Mentone and Sanremo on her yacht “Charlize”. The reason of her trip to Liguria was to visit the Archduke Franz Salvator, her son-in-law, the husband of her youngest daughter Marie Valerie.
On her second trip to Sanremo, the Empress arrived on the imperial yacht “Miramar” upon the advice of her personal physician who recommended she stay in a milder climate. Sissi was accompanied by Countess Irma Sztáry, the Empress’ lady companion who later wrote in her memoirs: “We stayed three days in the port. Her Majesty was not feeling well again and would not dare face the sea’s stormy waters. Eventually, the waves calmed down and, on the fourth day, the anchor was dropped and we safely reached Sanremo. The long-awaited warm sunbeams welcomed us on the Italian shore”.
“I would like to buy Villa Rosa, but Irma forbids me to do so”, the Empress jokingly wrote in a letter she sent during her stay. The Countess also wrote that Elisabeth was on a very rigid diet, but that in Sanremo she had grown stronger by drinking sweet cognac. On her tours of the countryside, shepherds gave her fresh goat’s milk “which Her Majesty drank with great pleasure” from, of course, the silver cup she always carried with her.
During her time in Sanremo, Sissi often stayed at the Hotel Royal which, a few years ago, renamed the most beautiful suite room “Suite Sissi”, in honour of its illustrious guest. According to a handwritten document dated February 8, 1898, the Countess arranged for Villa Ormond to be well-aired before the Empress’ arrival. Sanremo’s waters would be the last the Miramar sailed through, with Sissi on board, in the winter of 1898.