Napoleon's lover arrives in Elba on September 1st 1814

]img index="0" params="format=ms&class=image-l"][/img] Napoleon wasn't really that lonely at all: even if Maria Luisa never did come to Elba to be with the Emperor, his broken heart was mended for a few days by the arrival of his fascinating Polish lover Maria Walewska.

On September 1st 1814, Miss Walewska, along with her sister and brother, and the Emperor's young son Alessandro, arrived in Elba. Napoleon took her to the place he very much loved (and tried to keep hidden): Madonna del Monte, where he would spend hours relaxing and thinking.

Napoleon would spend days on end at the Madonna del Monte hermitage, high up on the hills, reminiscing about his native Corsica [...] From up there, Bastia seems so near you feel you can almost touch it. In the summer rain the windows of the houses sparkle, and when it is dark the town lights shimmer like fireflies. (p.102)

Before entering "his palace" the Emperor decided to take Maria and his young son to the Madonna del Monte Sanctuary where devout believers pray before the saints and and in the hope of a miracle.

They stayed inside for about half an hour, a time that for those waiting for them seemed neverending. Eventually when they came out of the church they had an expression of true emotion on their faces. Had they prayed to the Almighty God for France? Had they asked God's forgiveness for their sins? Their lips were sealed then and afterwards. Only Mother Mary had listened in pity.

[...] They spent two days and two nights together: nights and days of passion. As they went for romantic walks they often stopped inside the San Cerbone Church on the path on the way up to the top of Monte Capanne. It is a very old church built in 1500 in remembrance of that Saint who, pursued by the Goths, fled from the Bishopric of Piombino and sought refuge on this mountain that is the highest in Elba. (pp.129-130)

Two days later, Bonaparte had her sent back to France in a rushed and anonymous way, on a day when the sea was very rough, probably so that his wife would suspect nothing; this probably also meant that as far as he was concerned, Elba was not going to be his last chance.

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