Should we start calling her Countess Jessica Chastain? Not just yet.
Chastain, 40, has tied the knot with longtime boyfriend Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, who comes from a noble Italian family that has a history that dates back to early Medieval times. But that doesn’t mean that the two-time Oscar-nominee is officially a member of the aristocracy.
Gian Luca is the son of Count Alberto Passi de Preposulo, who still lives on the family’s main estate, Villa Tiepolo Passi, which less than an hour north of Venice. According to a 2013 travel profile in The Guardian, Alberto sells produce from his estate — “cherries, apricots, apples, pears and quinces” — and also rents out the estate for events, weddings and tourists.
According to Villa Tiepolo Passi’s website, the family was originally from Bergamo (an Italian city northeast of Milan) but inherited the 17th-century estate in the 1800s through the Valier family. According to their website, the family traces their history back to the 973 — making them a much older aristocratic family than the British monarchy — and, in 1307, the de Preposulo family got the added name of “Passi” after they helped negotiate a peace deal between the Guelf and Ghibelline factions in Bergamo. (Passi means peace in the local dialect, according to the family’s website.) In 1400, the family became loyal to Venice and now they appear to be firmly stationed in the Venetian region.
However, this impressive history does not make Chastain a newly minted member of the nobility. The Italian aristocracy was dissolved in 1946 when the Kingdom of Italy became a republic. That means that unlike the British aristocracy, Italian titles aren’t officially recognized and don’t come with special de jure privileges like land or political seats. So the title of “Count,” or Comte in Italian, is in name only and doesn’t hold any actual sway.
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In any case, Gian Luca’s father appears to still be alive and holding onto his Count title, meaning that Chastain’s new husband would only become a Count when his father dies and if he is the direct heir of the title. (It’s unclear if Gian Luca has any older brothers who might be first in line to inherit the actual title.)
Not being a “real” Count doesn’t appear to have hurt handsome Gian Luca, who used to work as the director of publicity for Armani and now works for Moncler. He reportedly told Vanity Fair during a (shirtless!) 2009 profile that “it’s not the title that’s important — you have to be a count inside yourself.”