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three pairs of lovers with space



Michele Imperiali, 4th Prince of Francavilla (7 July 1719 – 10 February 1782) was a Spanish Grandee, Major-domo to the King of Naples and Knight of the Golden Fleece renowned for the splendour of his hospitality.

In 1770, the Venetian adventurer Giacomo Casanova (1725-98) was staying in an inn in the city of Naples. When some distinguished English nobility, two young Saxon gentlemen and an Italian actor arrived to stay there too, they all went on outings together. Presented here is everything of Greek love interest in Casanova’s account of their visits over two days to Francavilla’s homes, taken from Volume XI of his memoir.

The translation from the original French is by Willard R. Trask in Giacomo Casanova Chevalier de Seingalt’s History of My Life, Volumes XI and XII (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1971), pp. 280-2.


Chapter IX

1770. Casanova was going on outing with some distinguished English nobility, two young Saxon gentlemen and an Italian actor, all of whom had come to stay in the same inn as himself in Naples.

15s in a pool 1770 d4

The next day we all went to dine at the Prince of Francavilla’s; he gave us a splendid repast and toward nightfall took us to a small pool which he had by the seashore, where he showed us a wonder. A priest[1] dived into the water stark naked and swam, resting from time to time without sinking. He used no artificial means to keep afloat. We were forced to conclude that it could only be due to his internal organization. After that the Prince gave the Duchess a very agreeable spectacle. He had all his pages swim naked before her; they were charming boys fifteen, sixteen and seventeen years of age, all of them minions of the amiable Prince, whose nature made him prefer the male to the female sex.[2] The Englishmen asked the Prince if he would give us the same spectacle with girls as the swimmers, and he promised that he would do so the next day at a house he owned near Portici, where he had a pool the garden.

Chapter X

The Prince of Francavilla was a rich, lavish, extremely intelligent Epicurean, whose favorite motto was Fouet et favet (“He forwards and fosters”). He was in favor in Spain, but the King had thought it best that he should live in Naples, because he foresaw that he might easily have initiated the Prince of Asturias and his brothers into his antinatural practices.[3] At his little palace on the afternoon of the next day he showed us his small lake enlivened by ten or twelve young peasant girls, who swam in our presence until nightfall; Miss Chudleigh and two other ladies found the treat as boring as they had found the one on the day before delightful.


[1] Don Paolo Moccia, whose extraordinary natural buoyancy was the subject of scientific studies at the time [Translator’s note 58].

[2] The Marquis de Sade placed a scene (IX, p. 308 in the 1797 edition) in his novel Juliette at the villa, calling Francavilla “the richest lord in Naples, and at the same time the greatest bugger,” though Sade’s scene characteristically depicts torture and murder rather than Casanova’s gentle erotic titillation. [Website footnote]

[3] The King of Spain was Carlos III. The Prince of the Asturias was his son and heir apparent, the future Carlos IV, born in 1748. The brothers meant were his younger brothers Ferdinando (born 1751), Gabriel (born 1752), Antonio (born 1755) and Francisco (born 1757). The eldest brother, excluded from the succession as an imbecile, cannot be meant here, as he was kept in Naples throughout his life. [Website footnote].