On the north side of Piazza Venezia, at the start of Via del Corso, stands the Palazzo Bonaparte, an imposing building, which was once the residence of Napoleon’s mother, Maria Letizia Ramolino (1750-1836).
Madame Bonaparte moved into the palazzo in 1818 and lived there until her death in 1836. It was she who had the palazzo's only balcony enclosed behind wooden slatted shutters, so that she could sit there, hidden from the prying eyes of curious passers-by, and watch the world go by.
After losing her sight the old lady would be accompanied on her balcony by a female companion, who would relate the events taking place in the busy Via del Corso and Piazza Venezia, then known as Piazza San Marco.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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