Vita Dolce is a 92-foot wooden ketch sailing the French
Riviera and offshore islands.
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Dear Homo Sapiens, There is no need to continue reading this page. What follows is intended for search engine robots and spiders and not necessarily for human beings. Further information concerning charter yacht sailing in the Mediterranean may be obtained by clicking on the maroon links immediately above. Thank You. You may be searching for Federico Fellini. If so, you have come to the wrong place. You may be searching for Anita Ekberg. Or for Anouk Aimee. Similarly, then, you have come to the wrong place. But should you be searching for Marcello Mastroianni's elusive sweet life, you have found its constituents. You have found a charter yacht sailing the French Riviera. You have found an accommodating wooden sailing vessel exploring France's Cote d'Azur and its offshore Iles d'Or. You have found a well-appointed vessel in which to cruise from one coastal haunt of the rich and famous to the next, from oasis to mecca, from one offshore island to the next offshore island, all the while enjoying an unsurpassed French cuisine. Marcello Mastroianni sailed this same coast in pursuit of the sweet life. And with Flora Carabella, his wife of 48 years, he sailed among these same French islands. So, too, did a galley sea captain by the name of Bertrand d'Ornesan, his vessels the property of a woman known to literature as La Corsaire des Iles d'Or and to history as Magdelaine de Medicis. Magdelaine de Medicis never sailed here, but her ships commanded by Bertrand d'Ornesan did. Born out of wedlock in Avignon, France, in 1479, Magdelaine's mother and father were both descended from Medicis of Renaissance Florence. She was an attractive and precocious child with an innate intellect which charmed most with whom she came in contact, including the Archbishop of Avignon, the future Pope Julius II. With the blessing of the archbishop she was married into a good family at the age of 13, her husband a retiring and withdrawn sort from whom she was later to separate childless. And it was with the blessing of Pope Julius II that she moved from Avignon to Rome, acquiring along the way a modest estate. Forced by separation to fend for herself, and as a Medici disinterested in a modest estate, she in about 1510 settled in the old port of Marseilles and began doing business as a ship chandler supplying provisions and materials to merchant and naval vessels in the port, and then supplying crew, and then financing client expense. Adept with accounts, her business prospered. Not yet satisfied, however, she soon uncovered the means to greater success, a handsome dark-eyed Gascon from the lower Pyrenees with a commanding presence. Bertrand d'Ornesan was his name and he had inherited the title Baron of Saint-Blancard. Two years younger than Magdelaine, he had been under arms from the age of 17, first as a foot soldier or condottiere for his father and at the time of their meeting as an oared-galley captain who had followed in the footsteps of his cousin Bernardin d'Ornesan, Le Grand Corsaire of that era. Saint-Blancard was also an absentee husband and the father of three children. Neither had he a good business sense nor a head for numbers. But Magdelaine had both, and with her support and guidance Saint-Blancard's fortunes soon began to improve. Together they built lighter and faster galleys. With them he plundered enemy coasts and she sold the plunder at timely prices. The partnership was a natural. Naval warfare in the 16th century was conducted mostly by seagoing mercenaries as nation-states could not afford to maintain standing navies, and Saint-Blancard had a letter of marque from the French king authorizing his depredations. By the 1516 visit of King Francis I to Marseilles, Saint-Blancard had obtained a modicum of corsair renown. Still celebrating his victory over the Swiss at Marignon four months earlier, and about to go to war with Charles V's Holy Roman Empire, the 22-year old king was feted by Marseilles society. And he was charmed by Magdelaine de Medicis. That's her at left. From that month Saint-Blancard's career path tilted skyward. In 1520 he was made second in command of a French excursion to Rhodes and then along the south coast of Turkey as far as Ottoman Beirut. The excursion was less than a military success, however, featuring tragic losses at Beirut and, with Saint-Blancard succeeding to command, a fruitless pursuit around the Aegean of the Turkish corsair Kara Mahmud. Upon his return to Marseilles in 1521 Saint-Blancard was nonetheless promoted to Général des Galères de France, a position entitled to a galley somewhat like that depicted above. And Magdelaine de Medicis became chandler to the galleys of France. In 1522 Saint-Blancard was made Vice Admiral of the Eastern Seas though that year he made it no further east than Villefranche while Hospitaller Rhodes was falling to Sultan Suleiman's Ottoman Empire. Commanding a number of ships owned by Magdelaine, Saint-Blancard was in 1525 named General of Languedoc to the west of Marseille. In 1528 he was made Captain-General of the French Levantine Flotilla (Amiral de la Flotte du Levant) though he had not been further east than Elba since 1521. In 1531 he was by decree of the same Francis I named Vice-Admiral of Provence and Marquis of the Iles d'Or, pirate infested islands off the coast of Provence. In 1532 aboard the sailing vessel Pelerine, Magdelaine's sailing vessel, he incautiously transported sixty French colonists to an island off the coast of Brazil's Pernambuco province; he was intercepted and detained by the Portuguese during his return voyage and the colonists were slaughtered four months later. Four years later with France then an ally of the Ottoman Empire he was dispatched to Algeria with a flotilla including a number of Magdelaine's galleys to seek Kheir-ed-Din Barbarossa's assistance in lifting a Spanish siege of Marseilles. He delayed his return to plunder the island of Ibiza, and upon his return found the siege already lifted by winter weather. It was not until 1537 that the Captain-General of the Levantine Squadron made it back to the Levant. Still an ally of the Ottoman Empire, Saint-Blancard's French flotilla of 16 ships with 530 adventurers embarked failed to find adventure, attempting without success to persuade Sultan Suleiman to join in a plundering of Charles V's Italian coast. Unable to return to Marseilles because of adverse weather, the flotilla was forced to winter at Chios off the coast of Asia Minor. There for the absence of plunder the money ran out, and Saint-Blancard found it necessary to borrow 10,000 gold ducats from the same Kheir-ed-Din Barbarossa. In April of that year, 1538, he began to succumb to ill health developed during his winter in the Levant. Reporting to the king upon his return to France in June, he never again saw Magdelaine. He died nine months later. So Saint-Blancard left us with a ledger most notable because of its liabilities. Magdelaine was one of his executors, but there was little left in his account after repaying Barbarossa. War is truly a zero-sum game for those who play at it; the number of victories equals the number of defeats. For their victims, mostly innocent, war is of course a catastrophe. For a few others there is profit. Magdelaine lived on another seven years, at Marseilles and in Paris where she was received at the French court. She died of natural causes in 1546. Charter Yachts Turkey is able to customize itineraries along the crossroads of history to any family or group preference. Along the Cote d'Azur, among the Iles d'Or, or a sailing odyssey further afield. We can put you aboard a charter yacht sailing France and the French Riviera for a holiday not to be forgotten. We can lay out an itinerary and point you toward all of the scenic and historical wonders of the Mediterranean basin. Vita Dolce, formerly Dolce Vita, a superb lady of the sea available for charter on the French Riviera. Contact Charter Yachts Turkey today at firstname.lastname@example.org