The last queen of Italy returned from 42 years in exile Tuesday to take a back-row seat at a symposium on a mediaval theologian in Aosta. Queen Maria Jose of Savoy, 81, the widow of King Umberto II, reportedly had made an incognito trip to Aosta in 1975 but Tuesday's outing was her first legal one since 1946.
'I did not feel any particular emotion on entering Italy but I am pleased,' Maria Jose told reporters. She carried a wooden cane and dressed in black for the lecture on St. Anselm and after three hours in Italy she returned to her home outside Geneva. She said hopes to visit Rome soon but wouldn't go into the possibility of meeting with Pope John Paul II or President Francesco Cossiga. 'That's going too fast,' she said. 'Let's do one thing at a time -- then we'll see.' Last December the Italian government said a ban on ex-kings of the House of Savoy and their consorts did not apply to Maria Jose.