Vittorio Piccinni (known as Victor, Vito or by the nickname “The General”) was born in 1924.
Of Italian descent, he grew up on the family estates, most notably at Villa Belvedere in Alessano, a summer residence owned by his mother in the province of Lecce, where he developed from an early age the family love of opera and the pursuit of beauty through literature, music, painting and a passion for gardens.
In the Regio Esercito he met the man who would become a great friend of his in life, the Prince of Piedmont known to posterity as the King of Italy Umberto II, to whom he owes the nickname “The General” following an episode in which Vittorio, at the request of the prince himself, had himself introduced by this appellation in mockery during a dinner at Villa Maria Pia in Naples.
At the prince’s request he was made a Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy by Umberto’s father, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
During the German occupation of Belgium in 1940, fearing that the Nazis would steal from the family home in Mons the archives, precious heirlooms and works of art handed down by his illustrious ancestor and contained within, Vittorio applied for the use of one of the underground rooms of the Town Hall Palace before going off to war with the Royal Army.