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Fortunato de Félice - Flight to Switzerland (1754-7)
age of 17, whilst at school in Rome, de Félice fell in love with the
young Agnese Arcuato, the Countess Panzutti. By coincidence,
they met again in Naples, but this time de Félice could marry this
sweetheart of his youth. Being an only child and (as with many
Italian titles) holding the family's Contadi (countship) "suo
jure", the Countess's family had made sure she was married at
the earliest age possible to a man named Giuseppe Augusto. As with
many arranged marriages it was entirely unsuccessful, he was an
uncaring man whom she hated. Fearing Augusto's wrath at his loss of
title to de Félice, in May 1756 she convinced Fortunato to elope
In order to escape the authorities they fled to Marseille, Lyon, Geneva, Lausanne and then Bern. However, with no resources and without the hope of any money, embarrassed, they decided to return to Italy, in the end seeking refuge amongst pilgrims in the convent of La Verna in Tuscany.
Fortunato's academic connections proved invaluable. Alerted to their plight by de Félice's friend Prince Raimondo di Sangro, the then King of Naples, Charles de Bourbon decided to put his philosophies of "Enlightened Absolutism" into practise and took pity on them. Nevertheless, the unflinching religious authorities made the King back down, and the young couple were forced to flee again.
This time they took to the mountains, moving South-East to Rimini to stay with Jean Bianchi. However, under orders from Rome the Archbishop of Rimini issued a warrant for their arrest. The Count and Countess rapidly made their way just South of Rimini to Pesaro to stay with the Marquis Poleni and his friend Morgagni, who recommended that they go to Switzerland to stay with Haller in Bern. Realising the authorities' net was rapidly closing in, the couple hastily crossed the border into safety.
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