Paolo and Francesca…

a novel about beautiful people in Italy.

Tag: Turin

Juventus Stadium.

Juventus - Udinese

Juventus – Udinese

on my last trip to Turin, I went to Juventus Stadium to see Paolo’s team take on Udinese.  our seats at the edge of the field provided a Francesca-like view of the action (and the players–yum).

Curva Sud superfans

Curva Sud superfans

it’s during a Juventus – Udinese match in Rule of Thirds when a sports commentator calls Paolo Romaldo “the maestro of the midfield.”  Francesca already knows he’s the maestro of her midfield…

inspiration #23 : antiquing in Venice.


I was walking to lunch at Harry’s Bar in Venice last Sunday afternoon (of course I was.  this is how you roll when you’re a big romance writer.) and literally stumbled right on an open-air antiques market.  Turin is renowned for its Mercato Balon, which Paolo and Francesca visit one weekend.  the antiques market in Venice is located in the glamorous Mercato di Rialto, which on weekdays is a fish market, and on Sundays still smells faintly of fish but is full of art and artifacts, furniture and knick-knacks.  I meandered through, taking particular note of the jewelry (there was the pair of vintage earrings, but not the anchor pendant), but I really regret not buying a gorgeous piece of Fendi luggage.  ah, Venice.

a visit to the antiques market.

The Balon was Turin’s antiques market, but it was more than just a flea market.  In the tradition of great city markets–Barcelona and New York were two immediate comparisons, Francesca thought–it was a treasure trove.  Everything from legitimate antiques priced at thousands of Euros to old junk for children to buy with their allowance money; she had done a shoot at the Balon and been in love with it ever since.

“So you’re really just going to look at everything?” Paolo asked, as she poked through a bin of vintage paperbacks.

“Probably.  Except the furniture.  I don’t think I need any more furniture.”

“But everything else?”

“Just look around,” she urged him.  “You might find something you like.  There’s all sorts of bar stuff over there.”

Paolo wore jeans and a t-shirt with a Moncler jacket and his aviator sunglasses.  He had pulled a wool cap over his hair but he still looked undeniably like Paolo Romaldo.  Francesca had turned up the collar of her coat against the cold and wore big Fendi sunglasses.  What she didn’t tell Paolo she liked so much about the antiques market was that they wouldn’t be hounded by paparazzi there–it was too boring for anyone to imagine they would go.  He said something about being chilly and going to get a coffee in the cafe across the square to warm up.  She had bought a strange, spiny seashell from a table manned by hippies, a vintage hotel ashtray for her brother Michele, and was looking at a tray of jewelry when Paolo joined her.

“Anything there you like?” he asked her.

“My grandmother used to have earrings like this,” she said, picking up a pair of iridescent crystal clusters from the 1950s.

“You wouldn’t actually wear those,” he said, taken aback.

“Probably not,” she answered.  “But they’re pretty, aren’t they?”  She moved to a tray of charms.  “This is the one I like the best,” she said, pointing at a small gold anchor.

“Let me get it for you,” he said, pulling out his wallet from his back pocket.

“No!” she protested.  “I can get it myself.”

“I know you can,” he said, handing some bills to the old man behind the table.  “But I want to get it for you.  I want to give you something you’ll wear every day.  To remind you of me.”

“I don’t need jewelry to remind me of you,” she said, but she accepted the small box and tucked it in her handbag.  “Thank you,” she said, kissing him lightly.

“Signore,” the old man said.  “You’re the football player, no?”

“Si, signore,” Paolo replied.  “Thank you for your help.”  He shook the old man’s hand before they walked away.

“That was sweet,” Francesca said.

“I told you, I wanted to give you something,” he answered.

“No, the old man,” she said.  “You’re sweet, too–I love my anchor, and I will wear it every day.  But that man was so cute.”

Paolo pulled her close to him and they walked with his arm around her waist.  “I’m really hungry,” he said.  “I’m really excited to be going to Eataly.”

a knock on the door.


Francesca planned to leave Milan on Friday after work but had one stop to make before heading for the A4 highway.  She hadn’t told Paolo when she was coming, preferring to stick to her promise to surprise him, but she was still rushing to get to Turin.  She was eager to see him.

She had traded her big Bottega hobo for an overnight bag and a smaller YSL clutch in black patent leather.  Under her Burberry trench she wore skinny jeans, a slouchy striped sweater, and a pair of gorgeous black patent Givenchy heels.  She tripped into La Perla on Via Montenapoleone like it was her birthday.  The girls there all knew her, and after exchanging hugs and kisses, Francesca explained what she was trying to find.  Thirty minutes later, she walked out of the store with her street clothes in a La Perla shopping bag and an impressively expensive array of lingerie under her trench coat.

Traffic was heavy on the A4 out of Milan, but she darted her little Alfa around other cars and kept moving.  She made it to Turin in ninety minutes flat, a new record for her, particularly for a Friday evening, and was at Paolo’s flat ten minutes later.  She pulled into the lot next to his building and left her big bag in the back of the car; she would pick it up later.  The concierge at his building knew her and let her in the front door; he smiled at her approvingly, looking at her hair piled high on her head, the cat-eye liner on her eyes, and the length of her legs stretched from the hem of her trench to the tall Givenchy shoes.  She rode the elevator up to his flat with her heart racing.  It had been almost three weeks since she’d seen him.

The distance from the elevator to his front door felt like a hundred meters, and the sound of her heels on the wood floors echoed through the hallway.  Surely he would know it was her.  Finally, she reached his door and knocked, three efficient raps.

She heard him moving inside, turning down the volume on the television and walking towards the front door.  Like a man, he opened it without looking through the peephole.

Francesca stood before him, leaning against the door jamb.  He was speechless.

“Open my coat,” she said, walking towards him into the apartment.


The First Time in Paolo’s Loft.

“You’re not as well-behaved as you seem,”

“You have no idea,” she told him breathily, grabbing his wrists and pinning them over his head.  She straddled him, admiring his arms, inked on the biceps and perfectly built; his chest, tan and muscled as she’d imagined it beneath his shirt, a scattering of hair that tapered down to his navel.  And below?  She would have to find out.  Still holding his wrists, she began grinding against him, slowly, gently, reaching to kiss him in rhythm and letting her nipples graze his chest through the lace of her bra.  Through her jeans and his she felt him, and she rode harder now, lingering with her lips at the base of his neck.

“Take off my jeans,” she said breathlessly, releasing his hands.  He scrambled to open them, push them down her hips, revealing a thong in the same black lace as her bra.

“Mine–” and she frantically fumbled with his belt, his fly; she pulled at the denim then sat back on her heels relishing the view before her.  Black D&G boxer briefs, with an unmistakable bulge and the head of his cock peeking out from the waistband.  She recognized him now, from that Dolce ad a few years ago with the Italian National Team in their locker room, wearing only underwear.  At the time Francesca had dismissed it as sensationalism, typical Dolce & Gabbana, but now she could finally appreciate the full impact of the ad.  She lowered herself down towards his cock again, closer now, fewer layers between them.  She felt his girth and his hardness, and her own wet warmth pulsing against him.  Two more lingering thrusts against his underwear and she lowered herself down the bed until her eyes were level with his navel.

Aperol Spritz.

They sat in a corner table at a small cafe. Though a northerner by birth, she hated Turin and its industrial anonymity, its faceless, sterile restaurants and cold, imposing warehouse clubs. But Paolo had found a cozy spot in the midst of the city’s perpetual winter. The waiter greeted him with a “Signor Paolo” and an Aperol spritz.
“He knows you,” Francesca remarked.
“They all do–this is the only place I like to come in town,” he said. “Spritz?”
“Another,” he told the waiter, passing Francesca his glass.
“Do you always drink during the season?”
“If I feel like it.”
“Aren’t you not supposed to?”
“Does it matter? Are they going to break my contract because I like to have an Aperol with a pretty girl? They can’t. They need me.”
“So, you do it anyway, you’re saying. To the detriment of the rest of your team.”
“No, I do what I want. It’s never bothered anyone before.”
“I’m not just anyone, Paolo.” She used his first name, and the effect was as if she had leaned in and touched his arm, even though she stayed in her chair, posture perfect and erect.
“You aren’t, are you? Signor Marco Ghiberti’s niece, Miss Photographer-for-Vogue…if I was a different man, I’d say you were out of my league.”
“Stop teasing.” She caught his eyes for a moment, then longer, falling into their inky depth. Unconsciously, she brought her finger to her lip and stroked it with her nail.
“I’m going to sleep with you,” he whispered across the table.
“Pardone?” she asked quietly.
“You heard me, signorina. Don’t pretend to be so innocent.”
“I’m surprised. You’ve surprised me.” He hadn’t, but experience had taught her the value in letting him think so. Later, she would surprise him.
“A pleasant surprise, I hope.”
She paused. “A surprise.”
“I have a flat near by.”
“A flat?”
“I live here during the season. The rest of the year, at Rapallo.”
“On the riviera.” She knew it well. “I have cousins near there.”
“Unbutton your shirt one more button,” he murmured, and she couldn’t mistake the huskiness in his voice. She knew that well, too.
She moved her hands to the crisp white fabric, then paused. “How far is your place?”
“The way I drive, five minutes.” He set a ten-Euro note on the table and waved good-bye to the waiter.