Princess Barbiano di Belgioioso, née Countess Cristina Trivulzio, described by some as a “romantic princess, ” was a historian, a pragmatic politician, and an indefatigable activist. Born into an illustrious Milanese family, she learned Italian, French, English, and Latin and became multicultural at an early age. After a failed marriage she traveled in Italy and France, eventually settling in Paris, where she adopted the French language. Her progressive ideas, her aversion to the Austrian domination of Lombardy, and her backing of political conspirators placed her under the surveillance of the Milanese police, who, in order to force her return, blocked any transfer of her funds. Introduced by Adolphe Thierry to François Auguste Mignet and General Lafayette, the men who had promoted the constitutional monarchy of Louis Philippe, Trivulzio maintained a friendship with them that strongly influenced her political convictions and social outlook. Her salon was the meeting place for intellectuals and artists from many parts of Europe, as well as for Italian expatriates. To gain support for Italian unity and independence, she began a lifelong career as a political journalist, contributing articles to French and Italian newspapers and journals, some of which she founded, directed, or financed.
Back in Italy in 1840, partly inspired by the ideas of Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier, she transformed her country estate at Locate into a community for rural workers, equipped with schools and workshops for women and men, and produced contemporarily two volumes on Catholic dogma, a translation of Giambattista Vico's Scienza nuova, and a lengthy Étude sur l'histoire de la Lombardie dans les trente dernières années (1846). When the 1848 Milanese uprising against Austria failed, Trivulzio, who had entered Milan at the head of a volunteer battalion she had herself financed, returned to Paris, explaining to the French the reasons for the failure through a series of articles in La Revue