I decided to go ahead and jump straight on to the first ball now. The Grand Napoleonic Ball that was held on Saturday evening in the impressive Villa del Poggio Imperiale. I mentioned this place previously when I first decided that I was going to Florence. At one point it was the home of one of Napoleon’s sister, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi. And this is what it looks like:
Rather grand isn’t it?! 😉
This palace is located not far at all from the city center. So a short walk and then a short taxi ride was sufficient to bring us (me and Mark from Australia, we decided to share a taxi) to it’s magnificent doors.
We were all supposed to arrive at the venue a couple of hours before the ball actually started, to have time for a stroll in the garden, visiting some of the beautiful rooms of this house and just hang out (not a very suitable expression I dare say…).
I suppose it is rather unnecessary for me to say that it was a beautiful place, that goes without saying. It was beautiful! But even so, I thought a few of the rooms were almost a bit over the top. I mean, they were gorgeous! Only I think had they held back a little on the decorations it might have been even nicer. In my personal opinion…
There were paintings one the walls, not hanging on the walls but actually on the walls. Apparently there was a copyright on them, so we were not permitted to take any pictures without people on them! And I also should say, my camera was not very cooperative. I’m not only saying that because I’m a rather lousy photographer, but it really was being rather stupid and refusing to work properly at times. So please excuse the fact that not all pictures are that great!
Here are a few I took of people gathered in some of these rooms, just socializing:
Check out some of those outfits! Beautiful eh?!
Friedrich and Nina, two of my lovely new friends!
Our dance instructor Donald guided us through these rooms telling us about them. What they were used for and how people lived here.
Then we did some photo shooting. There were so many nice settings for photos!
They had a harp standing there, it was immensely popular to pose with! The fact that most of the strings were missing was something that everyone ignored… ;P
Julie with the harp
Me with the harp
Athénais and Friedrich
We then ventured out into the garden. The weather was lovely, warm and sunny (as indeed it was for nearly all of my stay in Florence) and we were all strolling around talking, and taking lots of pictures!
A view of the house from the garden
Here I am posing with three of my newfound friends; Athénais, Julie and Friedrich.
Athénais with the beautiful roses
Then the clock struck eight and that was the hour set for the start of the ball itself. The ballroom was simply magnificent! I have heard it described as “the grandest ballroom in Florence”. And it was stunning!
I really liked the view from the windows in the ballroom, it looked so pretty!
There were refreshments there, available for us to partake of before the dancing began.
Shortly after, a procession began. Leading the way came first a couple of officers. After them came “the Duchess”. There was this lady, Irina was her name, who was dressed up in the most gorgeous outfit ever! It was simply breathtaking! I was especially struck by the way her shoes were embroidered to match the dress! Sooo nice! I’ll see if I can get some photos of her to put up here later. I didn’t get any good ones myself.
Uhm, I’ve lost my thread here… Where was I…? Ah yes! The Duchess! She was portraying the lady who’s house we were visiting, Elisa Bonaparte. She was followed by a big group of ladies, all dressed in beautiful costumes, and more officers. I thought it was interesting how nearly all the men who were there were in uniforms of some kind! Nearly all of them! Interesting…!
The whole ball was opened with Donald and Margarita and a couple of others doing a dance performance before the Duchess and her company.
And after that the dancing that everybody could take part in began. And what can I say about that, save that it was FUN!!!!! I loved it! Dancing around there in that amazing room, together with all these people dresses in beautiful period correct clothes, with live music was… heavenly! I always enjoy this kind of dancing, but doing it in this way it was even better! I felt like I could actually imagine what it could have been like, for real you know! A truly special experience!
The dancing went on till 11 o’clock. Then it was time for dinner! It’s very southern Europe, those hours, here in the north it is not very common to have dinner at 11pm! 😉 There was a buffet arranged for us and we ate and socialized some more before it was time to leave at midnight. “Leaving a ball at midnight”… that alone makes me think of Cinderella or some other fairytale! 😀
I rode back to the city with some charming Swiss girls that I had come to know that day. And so ended a most wonderful day!
I still have plenty more to share with you!