The city of San Remo, known worldwide as a seaside town and a popular resort location since the past centuries, is famous for its beautiful flowers, its Casino and for the Festival of the Italian Song, but it also has a more intensive side unknown to many.
The City of Flowers has written many pages of history and among these we have to remember Villa Magnolie (now seat of the town's High School), where the last Ottoman Sultan, Maometto VI, lived the final part of his life.
Maometto VI arrived in San Remo on May 20 1923, he arrived in the Western Riviera by train and was accompanied by an escort. He fled from Istanbul in 1922 aboard a British ship and landed on the island of Malta, chosen destination for his exile, ma after he decided to sail towards the Riviera of Flowers.
The last Lord of Turkey was overthown by General Mustafa Kemal and in the wait to return home as a winner he chosed this corner of Italy for his exile, where he died three years later on May, in exile and without being able to return to power.
The choice of San Remo is understandable as in those years the prestige and the international reputation of this place reached the four corners of the world, San Remo could be considered as a small Istanbul, overlooking the sea, rich and frequented by the major rilevant personalities of the international scene, the heart of the Italian belle-epoque.
Initially he was hosted for a short period in the home of the Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel, after he moved a few hundred meters away and arrived at Villa Magnolie.
The three year period that the Sultan -Caliph spent in San Remo, from 1923 to 1926, were months of great activities for the Sovreign, political ideas, projects were carried forward thanks to his many acquaitances and to the meetings he held with Islamic envoys, with Benito Mussolini which in this period rose to power in Italy. He also met in the halls of the Municipal Casino the King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele III.
His court was vary, made of many wives, spies, eunuchs and personalities of questionable morality... the world around the Sultun was full of turnups and with all the immense wealth at his disposal that often filled the coffers of the nearby Casinò.
The villa that hosted him was built in 1870 and was named after Marquis Dufour that ordered the construction, also hosted the Dukes of Aosta Amedeo of Savoy, from 1874 to 1876, and in those years its halls welcomed the Czarina Maria Alexandrovna, that spent a winter here, to which Corso Imperatrice (Course Empress) is named in her honour.
In the early '900 the name of the villa was changed in Villa Magnolie, name that still has.