Paolo and Francesca…

a novel about beautiful people in Italy.

Tag: Armani Hotel

inspiration #12 : Paparazzi.

I’ve been enjoying playing with the idea that Francesca is a photographer, yet one of the primary concerns when she spends time with Paolo (and with the Turk, Selim) is avoiding photographers.  She’s obviously a private person, and her upbringing has instilled in her an innate disdain for publicity-seekers.  There’s also a strong separation between her kind of photography and how she perceives paparazzi.

Paparazzi is a concept Italian in origin (invented, or at least first documented, by Fellini in La Dolce Vita).  Paolo insists on meeting Francesca at the Armani Hotel in Milan because he’s convinced that the Torinese paparazzi have followed Juventus to the hotel where the team is staying.  In Istanbul, Selim directs his driver to drop them off at the back of a club to avoid the paparazzi crowded by the front door.  Though she lives in the highly-exposed world of fashion, Francesca has never had to work particularly hard to protect her privacy–yet, with these two men, she necessarily becomes more visible.

waking up in the Armani Hotel; back at the office with Timo.

Francesca collapsed back onto the pillows and sighed.  All she wanted to do was stay in this perfect hotel room all day, but she knew any minute Timo would be calling to find out what had happened the night before and to give her the rundown on the work they needed to do today.  She picked up the phone on the nightstand and the front desk answered immediately.

“Buongiorno signorina Jolie,” a polite woman said.

He had signed her on the register as Angelina Jolie.  She had to laugh and could barely order her room service.  Cappuccino, fruit, cheese, and bread.  She was famished.  Her next call was to Timo, preemptively, to tell him she was going to be a little late.  By some incredible stroke of luck his phone rang four times and went to voice mail.  Fantastic.  She left a quick message and by that time, her breakfast had arrived.  Francesca surveyed the cheese (pecorino romano, drizzled with honey), the bread (a crusty roll), and the fruit (figs and blood orange segments, with more honey) while she drained her cappuccino.  She dove into the food with her hands, breaking the cheese into pieces and smearing the honey on the bread.  The figs were exquisite, ripe and bursting their crimson insides through the dusky mauve of their skins, oozing sweetness.  She was making a mess of the bed and licking the honey from her fingers but she didn’t care.

Thirty minutes later Francesca had showered and dressed, and she checked out of the hotel wearing her same clothes and with the staff still calling her “signorina Jolie”, though they could clearly tell she wasn’t.  She drove the quick fifteen minutes to her studio, anxious to avoid Timo’s wrath at any further tardiness.  But to her surprise, when she arrived at the studio, TImo wasn’t there yet.  She found her jeans in the closet and pulled them on, along with her boots from the day before, carefully hanging the pleated Prada skirt and putting the Giuseppes back in their box.  And then she set about to making another cup of coffee; Timo’s absence disoriented her and upset her morning routine, so she wandered aimlessly around the studio, trying to decide what to do first.

When Timo finally burst through the door Francesca was at her computer with her third cappuccino, clicking through sports news reports of the game the night before.  Timo was wearing the same black and white striped sweater and white jeans he’d worn to the football game, and Francesca raised an eyebrow at him.

“I called you this morning,” she said.

“I must have been in the shower,” he answered.

“Doubtful,” she said.  “You’re wearing your same clothes.”

“So are you,” he said, “but you smell like jasmine soap.”

“Ok, so you were in the shower,” Francesca conceded.  “Whose shower?”

“You probably won’t remember, because you were so absorbed with secret messages and meeting places and stolen glances across the field–”

“–I was not!” she protested.

He waved her off.  “You definitely were.  Whatever.  But if you had actually been paying attention, like I was, then you would have noticed the absolutely adorable boy sitting two rows up from us–”

“Not the one who was there with his parents?”

“Uh, no.  He was six.  Not my scene.  The one beside them, who was there with his friends from university.  I told you you didn’t notice.  You were too busy being all ‘oh, look at me playing it cool and pretending like I’m not thinking about Paolo Romaldo’s big thick dick.'”

“Fine.  Maybe I was trying to follow the game.”

“Anyway.  Dario’s studying physics at the university.  He’s from here.  It was hilarious, he snuck me into his parents’ house and we fucked all night long and got the maid to bring us risotto in the middle of the night and in the morning I had to escape out the back door.  So that’s why I’m late.”

“Dario,” Francesca mused.  “Dario the physicist.”

“Dario the dreamfuck,” Timo rejoined.  “But where are my manners–I haven’t asked what happened to you last night.”

Francesca sighed.  “So we met at the Armani Hotel, but he wasn’t staying there, he just wanted to meet there for drinks because if we went to his hotel there would probably be photographers there–”

“And he didn’t already realize you are a photographer?”

“And he wanted to go someplace more private, so he picked the Armani Hotel, which was a good choice because it was very private.  But I was worried, at that point, that this was a friendly drink, a since-I’m-in-town-I-popped-by-for-a-drink kind of drink, not a drink that was a precursor to going upstairs, because he didn’t have a room upstairs.”

“Nice girl that you are, you don’t want to give the wrong impression during a friendly drink.”

She rolled her eyes at him.  “I introduced him to Fernet and Coke–”

“Your two best friends–”

“And we started making out right there in the lounge and I felt it.”

“His penis?”

“God, Timo, you are on fire for having not gotten any sleep last night.”

“I’m sorry, please.  Go on.”

“There’s not much else to say.  He had to leave and take the bus back to Torino.”

“The bus? Ugh.  Really?”

“Apparently it’s a thing.  They ride the bus together.  As a team.”

“It sounds kind of gay to me,” Timo fluttered his eyelids and got up to make himself another espresso.  His phone buzzed and he ran to grab it, reading the text as he walked back to the couch.

“Dario?” Francesca asked.

Timo didn’t look up from typing on the screen.  “Yes, finally.  Sounds like he just woke up.  He’s so cute.  So where did we leave off?  The bus.  He’s taking the big gay bus of football players back to Torino.”


“Do you think he sits at the back of the bus?  Between the drinks and the bus what happened?  Other than feeling it?”

“Have you ever been to the Armani Hotel?  The beds are amazing.”

“Wait, you said he didn’t have a room.”

“He got a room.  And it was gorgeous.”

“You’re being very vague about this whole situation,” Timo said.

“I don’t know what else there is to say.  You were right about the skirt, though.”


“Yeah,” Francesca answered.  “Paolo liked the skirt.”

“Obviously you should listen to me more often.”  Timo got up and walked towards his desk.  “So what’s next?  Do you have to wait for another treasure map to see him again?”

“I don’t think so,” she said.  “I gave him my number–”

“Shit,” Timo interjected.  “I completely forgot we have to book that trip to Capri for the Bazaar thing.  Shit shit shit.  That will teach me to sleep through my reminders.”  And he started typing furiously at his computer.  “We need the proofs from last week, too.  Are they on the shared drive yet?  We should have about a hundred.”  He clipped his headset to his ear and she could hear him start talking to their travel agent.

Armani Hotel.

image via Armani Hotel Milano.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t watching.  I just wasn’t watching the game.  I was watching you.”

He leaned close to her and brushed her hair away from her face.  “Really?”

“Of course,” she answered huskily.  “I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.”

He kissed her then, gently, just her lips at first, stroking her hair as he moved deeper, coming somehow closer to her.  She felt like they should stop and look around, she was self-conscious and nervous after what he’d said about the paparazzi, but he tasted bittersweet like Fernet and she was losing herself under his hands.  She was only aware of sensations: the velvet cushions of the couch, soft and yielding as he pressed her further into them, the warmness and dampness of his breath, their quiet panting, the distant twinkling of ice in crystal.

“Do you want another drink?” he asked her.

She shook her head no.  Paolo gestured for the waiter again.

“Something else, sir?” he asked.

“I think we’ll be going upstairs,” Romaldo said.  “Just the check, please.”

“Certainly, sir.”

Paolo strode up to reception and booked a room, checking in under “Brad Pitt.”  The night clerk, a bemused art student, smiled through his floppy hair and handed him the key.  “Third floor.”

This time when they rode the elevator they were close, alone, pressed together and wild.  Romaldo slid his hands up Francesca’s legs, pulling her towards him, spreading his fingers over her bare cheeks, hooking his thumbs under the lace of her panties.  “I’m so glad you wore a skirt,” he murmured into her neck.

When the doors opened they struggled to compose themselves, stumbling out into the quiet, empty hallway.  Francesca laughed and it was low, almost guttural, as she ran towards the door of their room.  Paolo pinned her against it as he fumbled with the key; he kissed her hard and pushed the door open, propelling them into the room.

“This time I get to undress you,” he said, kneeling at her feet to unbuckle the straps on her shoes.  She balanced with her hands on his shoulders as he slipped off her Giuseppes, then he lifted her bare foot to his lips and kissed it.  She laughed.

“I’m going to fall over if you keep doing that,” she said.

“I’m going to keep doing a lot of things,” he answered into the smooth skin of her leg.  He set her foot back on the carpet and moved up her legs with his mouth, kissing her knees, pushing her feet further apart and moving in between her thighs, tickling her sensitive skin with his stubble.  She felt warm, like the Fernet was just kicking in, lightening her head and heightening all sensation.  Allowing her to experience the moment without having to think.  He inched up towards the apex of her thighs and she felt her knees weakening, dropping herself towards his mouth.  Suddenly he was out from under her, standing to face her, and he leaned in to kiss her neck as he unbuttoned the delicate buttons of her blouse.  She tossed her head back and arched her spine as he moved from her neck down to her decolletage; he pushed her blouse off her shoulders and cupped her breasts.  Through the violet lace of her La Perla bra, he tongued her nipples, circling them then nibbling, gentle at first but building, pulling at them with his teeth, while he palmed her ass and pulled her towards him, making her feel his hardness through their clothes.  She tangled her fingers in his hair, tugging until he raised his head to kiss her again, diving into her.  She reached around to the zipper at the back of her skirt but he grabbed her wrists, roughly, almost, and pulled them away.

“No,” he said.  “I undress you.”  He slid his hands under her skirt again and kneaded her cheeks, teasing under her thong with his fingers.  Urgently, she sought his earlobe and took it in her lips, sucking and flicking it with her tongue.

“Please,” she whispered breathlessly into his ear.

He reached for the zipper and undid it, and her skirt slipped to the floor.  He stepped back.  “Look at you,” he said softly.