The Chinese Imperial Boat Hidden in the Woods of the Cimini Mountains

Amidst the lush woods of Tuscia Viterbese, there is a place that has the power to transport the visitor to another space-time dimension. This is the Tenuta Sant'Egidio where the remains of the surprising Church of the Holy Trinity guard a precious Chinese Imperial marble boat.
Table of contents:
  1. Where the boat is located
  2. Love for China
  3. Extraordinary meeting
  4. The promise of conservation
  5. Brotherhood and respect between peoples

The Sant'Egidio Estate

La Tenuta Sant'Egidio is a private area of about 130 hectares on the north-eastern slope of Monte Cimino, which has become, by the owners' will, a educational forest. Walking through the woods of the estate you can admire monumental oak and beech trees, caves, springs and rocky outcrops. And then suddenly the remains of the walls of a church, the Holy Trinity, dating back to the 13th century and for centuries a hermitage of monks. Together with what remains of the ancient church a striking and alienating Chinese imperial boat in white marble. But how did this boat get here and why?

The Blessings and Love for China

The Chinese Imperial Boat came to Italy thanks to theItalian entrepreneur-philanthropist Eugenio Benedettifather of Azzurra Benedetti, the current president of the GEA Association from which the idea of the educational forest originated. Eugenio, nicknamed 'the new Marco Polo', was in love with the People's Republic of China and for many years travelled all over the country, contributing to its economic and cultural renaissance. One of his most famous operations was the opening of 34 marble quarries in the Hebei and Honan mountains, which are still operating today, from which he extracted one of the most beautiful marbles in the world. In 1965 Eugenio also had the opportunity to meet theLast Chinese Emperor Pu Yikey character in unravelling the mystery of the Viterbo imperial boat.

An extraordinary meeting

By now demoted to a simple citizen and appointed head of the Gardens of the Imperial Summer Palace in Beijing, Pu Yi commissioned Eugenio to save and restore the boat built in 1865 to mark the 60th birthday of Empress Ci Xi, his mother. The boat is still moored on the Kunming River at Peking Palace. In ancient China, boats were true masterpieces of craftsmanshipused to transport precious goods along the rivers and canals of the vast Chinese empire. The imperial boat was a symbol of respect, power and elegance.

Restoration and Conservation

The conservation operation succeeded and was greatly appreciated by the Chinese government; Eugenio received a gift for his 75th birthday as a thank you for his work, 100 tonnes of white marble composed of 3,000 hand-carved and chiselled pieces. The material was used for build a 1:3 scale replica of Empress Ci Xi's boatas a sign of love from China to Italy. The imperial boat was then placed inside the estate, where Eugenio expressed his wish to be buried when his time comes.

Symbol of brotherhood between peoples

Thus the mystery is explained. The Chinese imperial boat on the Tenuta Sant'Egidio is more than just a monument; it is a homage to brotherhood between different culturesa symbol of peace and cooperation between peoples. But, above all, it is a representation of the love of a son for his mother and of the interconnection between seemingly distant cultures. The marble imperial boat in the heart of Tuscia Viterbese is a precious testimony to historyan indelible memory of great modern characters. A historical memory to be preserved and handed down to future generations.