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Christina Vella Edit Profile


Christina Vella, American historian. Co-recipient Foundation History Louisiana Preservation award; recipient Award for Excellence, American Association State and Local History, 2004; grantee, L.E.H. Institutes, 2002-2003; Paul & Elizabeth research fellow, Los Angeles Endowment for Humanities, 1990.


Vella, Christina was born on March 14, 1952 in New Orleans. Daughter of Mario John and Nicolina Vella.


Bachelor, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1969. Master of Arts, University New Orleans, 1970. Doctor of Philosophy, Tulane University, New Orleans, 1990.


It was published by Louisiana State University Press in 1997 and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, and The Times-Picayune. It chronicles the life and career of Micaela Almonester, the woman responsible for building the Embassy of the United States in Paris and the Pontalba Buildings in New Orleans. In 2003, Intimate Enemies was adapted by Thea Musgrave as the opera Pontalba, which premiered in New Orleans in October of that year.

Vella's later books include The Hitler Kiss: A Memoir of the Czech Resistance (2002), co-authored with Radomir Luza, and Indecent Secrets - The Infamous Murri Murder Affair (2006), a history of the Murri murder trial which took place in Bologna, Italy in 1905. Vella received her Ph.D. in European and U.S. history from Tulane University in New Orleans. A professor of history for over twenty years, she now devotes most of her time to writing and lecturing.

She frequently serves as a consultant and writer for the U.S. Department of State.


  • Her first book, Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of the Baroness de Pontalba, was entered for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She is the recipient of the 2010 Preservation Award from the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.



  • Other Interests

    Argentine tango, jazz dance, piano, music, languages.


Children: Christie Riehl, Robin Vella Riehl.

Mario John

Nicolina Vella

Christie Riehl Vella

Robin Vella Riehl Vella