This third entry on my fantasy Italian dinner party will be quick and sweet—kind of like dessert.
I met Mary Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, and her husband, Prince Philip Andrew Doria Pamphilj Landi (another mouthful of a name!), in Rome at the Palazzo Pamphilj, which is where, as I wrote previously, I also met the formidable Olimpia Pamphilj—Philip’s ancestor.
There isn’t a lot of information out there about this couple that I could find, but during a tour of the Palazzo, with an audio guide narrated by Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, I learned that Mary and her husband were devoted to each other.
One of the rooms in the Palazzo is still decorated in the way it had been when the couple lived there in the mid-1800s in tasteful blues with their portraits on the wall.
And there’s this interesting side note about their interests: Philip and Mary and her father John, the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury in England, were friends with a man named Francesco Romani—an Italian doctor who opened one of the first homeopathic clinics in England.
Mary and Philip brought Romani back to England in 1839 shortly after their marriage where he opened his clinic, and Mary’s father was perhaps one of the first people in England to have a homeopathic doctor.
Presumably the couple was happy and homeopathically healthy for nearly two decades together, but then, as the Pamphilj tour related, tragedy struck. Mary died in 1858 of a tooth abscess. Her husband was distraught.
But as a way of honoring her memory, at the couple’s country estate: the Villa Pamphilj near Rome, he had a box hedge, visible from his bedroom window, cut into the letters of her name so that he could see it every day. He outlived his love by eighteen years.
So that fills out my dinner invite list, which came from learning of these interesting people and their stories in my last few weeks in Rome. But looking back, maybe the list needs to open up a bit—heck, I’ll invite all the men, not just the love-struck Prince Philip! So imagine enjoying antipasti, several pasta courses, a little veal saltimbocca and copious amounts of wine along with the conversation to be had at a dinner table surrounded by Olimpia Pamphilj and Pope Innocent X, Anita and Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Philip and Mary, Olimpia’s descendants. And, of course, I can’t leave out Gian Lorenzo Bernini.