An accidental Scottish pilgrimage!

A couple of weeks back, I wrote that an email had told me that it was 275yrs since Bonnie Prince Charlie had held court at Holyrood Palace, in Edinburgh. Little did I know, that I’d end up doing an inadvertent Bonnie Prince Charlie tour when I visited Rome last week…

I knew I was going to try and find the Palazzo Muti, where the man was both born and died (an odd symmetry to his life there!), but in the end, there was a link to him on each day of the trip, albeit a bit back to front! Here, I’ve put them in the right order…

Palazzo Muti

Palazzo Muti

This one took a little while to find, tucked away in the back-streets off Via del Corso, but it was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie was born in 1720, and as I noted above, where he died in 1788. There’s no reference to the Stuarts having lived in the palazzo during their time in Rome, and the building is now divided up into a series of small offices, but you can wander into the courtyard without a problem, which of course we did.

As with a lot of the buildings in Rome, there isn’t a lot of evidence of change or modernisation, and there’s a real sense of “this is how it was when the prince was here”, which is what I love about historical buildings.

The central courtyard of Palazzo Muti

Frascati Cathedral

This was totally unexpected! We had picked Frascati as a day-trip for the last day of the holiday, purely because one of the guidebooks said it was a nice town, and we fancied using the train. And yes, alright, the wine was a bit of a draw (and delicious!).

The memorial stone to Charles Edward Stuart, under which his heart lies in an urn.

We all love visiting the churches, and so made our way to the cathedral, a beautiful building in the main square. Inside, if I’m honest, was a lot plainer than most of the churches we’d seen this visit and last, but it was such a peaceful interior, and so we had a wander around. Imagine my surprise when I read on one of the boards that one of the bishops of Frascati had been none other than Henry Benedict Stuart, brother of Charles Edward Stuart. That was interesting enough, but reading on, it turns out the cathedral had been the first resting place of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and his remains were only moved to the Vatican after the death of his brother.

Even more amazingly, his heart is still in an urn under the monument to him. A brilliantly random end to the holiday.

Monument in the Vatican

Monument in the Vatican

This was another bonus. Last time we visited Rome, and wandered up to the Vatican, you could hardly see the floor of the square, it was so crowded. I know it’s for a terrible reason, but this time, the queues to enter the Basilica, the one bit which is completely free to visit, were virtually non-existent, and it seemed churlish not to go in. I knew this monument was in there, and again, the lack of people made it easy to track it down.

I’d seen a replica of the monument when I went to the study day in Edinburgh, so had an idea of what I was looking for, but it’s fair to say that the place is so vast, I still had to resort to Google to help me out. Worth it in the end though. There’s another monument in the Grotto, which we didn’t see, but just standing in front of this was wonderful.

When you add in the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to visit Glenfinnan and Culloden, I’m not doing badly at all on the Bonnie Prince Charlie highlights tour.

I’m keener than ever to write something about this historical hero, and will definitely be adding a note to the WIP List!

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