Official Tourist Information Site of the Piacenza local editorial office



Maria Luisa Leopoldina Francesca Teresa Giuseppa Lucia d’Asburgo-Lorena, simply known as Maria Luisa d’Austria, she was the daughter of Francesco I the imperor of Austria and Maria Teresa of Borbone.
Maria Luisa lived in Vienna where as a child, she received a good education. She learned how to playing piano and how to speaking different foreign languages like, German, French, English, Hungarian, Bohemian and a bit of Greek and Latin.

When she was 19 years old, she became the second wife of Napoleon and for few years she was the empress of the French people.

The marriage

The marriage with Napoleon was celebrating on the 2nd of April 1810 and it was considered the most important marriage of the century. Actually it was the union of two well known empires in the history.

After this marriage, Francois Joseph Napoleon II, the first son was born. He immediatly became the King of Rome; but the lucky time for Napoleon was going to over soon. After his defeats, before Lipsia and Waterloo, Napolean was exiled, meanwhile Maria Luisa moved back to Austria with her child, called also ” little Franz”.

At the Vienna’s Congress, the political europeean forces decided the future of Maria Luisa; she had to run alone the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla without her son Napoleon II.

When she was appointed Duchess of Parma and Piacenza, Maria Luisa had to waive her imperial title and change her name to the Italian version “Maria Luigia”.

Maria Luigia d’Austria Duchess

The “good duchess” managed to transform the cities of the Duchy building up new public buildings, new roads and bridges but schools and charity istitutes too. She had run the Duchy for almost 30 years. The Austrian minister Metternich decided that from 1816 Maria Luigia had to be helped by the General Neipperg, who after few years became her lover and later her housband.

From this morganatic marriage, term which means that her hausband and their sons couldn’t have the Duchy as heritage. Actually the couple had two sons, Albertina and Guglielmo, who took the surname from their father’s italian version: Neipperg=neue Berg= new mountain= Montenuovo.

Actually, both of the children were born before the Napoleon death and this was the reason why Maria Luigia decided to keep them hidden and she left them living in the palace close to her royal residence. Anyhow after her marriage with Neipperg, she kept hiding the real birthdates of them to avoid the Habsburg court’s reactions.

In 1829 Maria Luigia turned to widow for the second time.

Metternich, who was still the Minister for the foreign affairs, decided to choose Mr. Werklein as a chief of the Duchy. Unfortunatly herr Werklein wasn’t a good governator and he wasn’t appreciated by the people. At that time it was some uprisings happened and during the February 1831 in the city of Parma some adverse riot took place, which caused the moving of the Duchess Maria Luigia.
She decided to move to Piacenza, less danger city protected by the austrian army.

In this particular occasion the Duchess decided to transfer the main city of the Duchy and the seat of the council to Piacenza. Actually this city shows always to her a great loyalty.

On the 18th February 1831, Maria Luigia moved to Piacenza where she was living at Mandelli Palace with her sons, Albertina and Guglielmo and some helpers. She stayed in Piacenza until the situation in Parma was getting better thank’s to the action of the army.

Lately, the Conte of Bombelles became the governor of the Duchy and in 1834 the third hausband of Maria Luigia.

During this last period she had a particular interess to the city, she was a real benefactor.

Maria Luigia died in Parma on the 17th December 1847 a cause of a rheumatic pleurisy.

After the celebration of the royal funeral which took place in the S. Ludovico Chapel on the 19th December, her body was kept in Parma for almost one month. After this waitingtime It was moved to Vienna on the 17th January 1848.

The Duchess Maria Luigia was buried inside of the royal tomb, close to her son, Reichstadt Duke and her father, Francesco the emperor.

What remains

Maria Luigia was the queen who changed architectonically the city of Parma but even in Piacenza the traces of her ruling are really visible.

Driving from Piacenza and crossing the bridge of the Trebbia’s river close to San Nicolò, It’s still visible the memorial column which is remainding the decision of the building in 1819 wanted by Maria Luigia.

Maria Luigia visited Tidone’s Valley to check the lands of the Duchy, she got hosted into the Castelnovo Val Tidone Castle.
It isn’t well known that one of the noble Piacenza’s family Marchesi Paveri Fontana has some blood ties with some offspring of Maria Luigia. An ancestor of this family, Lionello the Marquis, got married in 1903 with the great grand-daughter of Maria Luigia, Guglielmina, grand-dauther of Albertina Montenuovo.

Piazza dei Cavalli, Piacenza