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The Venetian author and amorous adventurer, Giacomo Casanova was a habitué of Europe’s royal courts under a variety of guises. While his incredible autobiography, The Story Of My Life, written in the last years of his life, has enchanted centuries of readers with its intrigue, it’s also considered to be one of the most authentic sources of social norms and customs of the 18th Century.
Born to a family of actors, Casanova was raised for an ecclesiastical career—but was expelled from the seminary at the age of 16 for bad conduct. He then took on a series of varied jobs: he was the secretary of a Roman cardinal, a solider in the Venetian army, a preacher, alchemist, a cardsharper, a violinist and a spy who often found himself involved in affairs of a political (and sexual) nature.
n 1775, suspected by the Venetian authorities of being a Freemason, he was arrested for impiety and practicing magic, and sent to the top-floor prison known as “The Leads”. His escape was famously recorded years later in a successive book, which Casanova called The Story of My Flight.
He then set off on extensive travels around Europe, earning the trust and friendship of famous figures, and as well as a reputation for being an ardent lover. He was a favorite in the French court of Louis XV, and was a lover of Madam de Pompadour. In fact, his long succession of elaborate sexual conquests and complicated sentimental affairs—so well documented in his memoirs—have ensured that his name is now synonymous with “womanizer” or “heartbreaker”.
As much as he loved women, his voracious appetite extended just as passionately to food. Among his favorite indulgences: pasta, pigeon, chocolate, and oysters—of which he could eat an inordinate amount. In 1734, Casanova even wrote a sonnet in honor of macaroni with cheese, one of his favourite recipes, and from then on many called him “The Prince of Macaroni”.
He even wrote of his love for this pasta in his autobiography:
“I love refined dishes, macaroni prepared by a good Neapolitan cook…a well-creamed cod, perfectly hung game, and buttery chesses…”.
Clearly, this man was driven by a lifelong desire to cultivate and please his senses. Who can blame him?
This story is taken from the book Tacuinum dè Eccellentissimi, ali&no publisher.