My great-grandfather Raoul de Forcade was born in 1886 in Verona, Italy. He was raised in Naples, attended the University of Florence and spent a year in Vienna. He served as a calvary officer in the Italian army, and was dashing man who greatly enjoyed the bachelor lifestyle -- to be specific, my aunt mentioned he enjoyed duels and the company of opera dancers. His mother Adele nagged him to settle down and get married, but he ignored her pleas.
My great-grandmother was born in 1901 and was one of nine children. She was a very well-rounded young lady who rode horses, played the piano and spoke French. She met my great-grandfather for the first time when she was 17 or 18 years old. She was riding with some friends when her horse shied and threw her. My great-grandfather saw her and went over to help. Instead of playing the part of the damsel in distress, she was angry and only wanted to get back on the horse. A few years later, she spent the day at the beach with the wife of a calvary colonel. They were excellent swimmers and decided to swim a long way from the shore. While they were swimming, a boat full of officers approached and asked if they needed help. They accepted the invitation to be pulled into the boat. Ironically, my great-grandfather was among them.
After their second meeting, Raoul started writing to Tina. Occasionally he introduced her to his mother at parties. His mother liked her very much, but she didn't approve of an engagement because my grandmother wasn't a member of the Italian aristocracy. Eventually, he resorted to extreme measures to win her approval -- he informed his mother that he wanted to marry one of his opera dancer girlfriends! Suddenly the lovely girl with an independent nature wasn't such a bad match after all, and his mother insisted that he reconsider the lovely Tina. They were married and moved to Verona. My grandmother arrived 10 and a half months later. She is in the bottom photograph.