Town & Country (USA)



circles, you sometimes wish certain things were true about yourself, and eventually you even start to believe that they are.

Parts of Rita’s own manifest destiny are bound to rub certain people the wrong way, particular­ly some of Nicolò’s family. There are aspects of her persona that evoke the “Countess” LuAnn de Lesseps of The Real Housewives of New York City, especially her pride in the title of “princess.”“It’s ridiculous. First of all, this is a republic—the king left in 1946,” Bante says. “All of Rome is laughing.” Of all the insults she faces, this is by far the most stinging, the one that shatters her composure. Her use of the title is not entirely pretentiou­s but a sort of beauty mark, a signature that acknowledg­es her long, colorful journey.“What do they get out of saying I’m not a princess?” she snaps, sharing screenshot­s of her name listed in the 2015 edition of the Almanach de Gotha, a sort of European Social Register. “This pettiness. This hatred. I will never understand it.”

With the battle over the Villa Aurora far from finished, I ask Rita what her dreams are for the sprawling palazzo—or at least how she sees her story unfolding. She certainly isn’t going anywhere, that much she makes clear. In an ideal world, the house would sell to a deep-pocketed buyer, who would then open the villa as a museum, with an apartment for Rita to live in on a higher floor. She would give tours, if there was any interest, though a judge told her in March to stop doing just that in the run-up to the sale. For Delphina, this is all a flight of fancy: “She’s not really connected with reality. How could you say as a grown-up, ‘I hope Bill Gates buys it and lets me live there?’” Then again, in Rita’s life stranger things have happened.

“I’d kind of like to do a Princess Borghese and stay up top,” Rita says. “Continue my friendship­s, travel to Paris, and all the things with the house.” As she talks, I keep thinking of the famous country song “After Texas,” a ballad that asks, “Where do you go after Texas?” To the list of possible answers this must now be added: Go to Rome, raise hell.

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