Strange Double To An Italian King
By James Donahue
There is a story that King Umberto I, the second to the last king of Italy,
met his exact double while seated at a small restaurant in Monza.
As the tale is told, on July 28, 1900, the king was accompanied by his aide-de-camp,
General Emilio Ponzia-Vaglia, when the entered the restaurant. When the owner took King Umberto's order, the two men were
astounded as they gazed at one another. It was as if they were looking in a mirror. They were exact doubles.
Naturally the two men began discussing their striking resemblances and quickly
learned that there were other odd similarities. Both men were named Umberto, both were born on the same day, March 14, 1844.
Both men were born in Turin, and both married women with the same name: Margherita.
There is more. The restaurant owner said he opened his business on the same
day that King Umberto was crowned King of Italy.
The strangest part of the story is that the following day, on July 29, 1900,
the king, who came to Monza to attend an athletic event, was informed that the restaurant owner died a few hours earlier in
a mysterious shooting accident. Only minutes after hearing the news, the king was assassinated by an anarchist as he was climbing
into his awaiting carriage.
The story presents us with a problem. Either we must face a strange theory
of coincidence, or we must consider that other events were at play here. Could it be that the king was an identical twin,
and that for political reasons, one of the brothers was "farmed out" to be raised by another family? How could two babies
be born on the same day in the same town and with the same name have escaped the eye of one-another's parents? Were they delivered
by midwives, unknown to one another?
Was the "mysterious" shooting of the restaurant owner a problem of mistaken
identity on the part of the assassin? After all, the killer, identified as Gaetano Bresci, was an immigrant to the United
States who organized an anarchist newspaper in Paterson, New Jersey. He returned to Italy only weeks before he shot the king.
Had he witnessed their meeting the night before in that restaurant? Did he kill both men just to make sure he got the right
King Umberto was known as the Italian leader who brought his country out
of isolation and into a triple alliance with Austria, Hungary and Germany. He supported nationalistic and imperialistic policies
that turned out poorly for Italy and led to his assassination.