Everyone wants her: who is Lina Cavalieri?

Poet Gabriele D'Annunzio dedicated her a copy of his novel "il Piacere" (the Pleasure) and described her as "a Venus on Earth". Davide Campari used her as an excuse to leave on his business trips. Gina Lollobrigida played her character in the movie "The most beautiful woman in the world", in 1955, winning the Donatello David as best actress. And when Piero Fornasetti saw her face in a late 19th century magazine, he fell in love with her enigmatic look. Since then he made screenprint of her face on every ceramic he produced.

We are talking about Lina Cavalieri, officially Natalina Cavalieri, born in Rome on December of 1875, from a simple family which was in miserable financial condition, Lina worked since she was a child. She became a florist, a newspaper seller and folder in a printing house and a tailor. While working she sang and became well known for her sweet voice. Therefore her mother looked for someone to teach her some songs. When she was fifteen she made her debut in a theatre at Piazza Navona: this is recalled in her memory book "Le Mie Verità". 

Her career as a songwriter was constantly on the rise, thanks to her voice, her beauty and, of course, her bad temperament. At the age of 21, she performed at the Salone Margherita in Naples (the first concert café in Italy), her performances there lauched her in Europe. Lina arrived in Paris, at the Folies Bérgères, singing a series of Neapolitan songs accompanied by a totally female orchestra, composed only of guitars and mandolins. 

In 1900 she was at the height of her popularity and turned into an opera singer, debuting at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples with an opera by Puccini. The Belle Epoque became fascinated by her beauty and her charme, despite her modest origins. 

But who were her lovers? The anecdotes and stories about the various men who desidered her are innumerable: Davide Campari, son of the creator of the famous Campari aperitif, fell in love with the singer and started planning fake business trips to stay with her. However years later, Lina would marry another member of the Campari family, Giovanni. 

It is also said that a Russian prince, Alexander Bariatinsky, gifted her with such a long emeralds necklace that despite she made it go three times around her neck, it felt at the height of her hips. 

Lina Cavalieri moved to Paris in 1921, where, taking advantage of her fame, she opened a beauty salon, which was attended by many ladies intrigued by the myth of her beauty. In 1931 she was also to act as testimonial for Palmolive products, explaining that it was thanks to this product that she kept her beauty intact. 

But the person who plays the most important role in makig her an icon, is designer Piero Fornasetti: when seeing her picture in a magazine of the late 19th century, he fell in love with her hypnotic face. That's why he started making screenprints of her face on various ceramic objects. And how her face is today the most distinctive sign of the Fornasetti company, bringing her into the homes of many people still today. The myth of the most beautiful woman of the 20th century continues many years after her death, and every one still wants her, Lina Cavalieri.