Babbo Natale* is not seated in an eccentric grotto. He’s not surrounded by glorious, svelte elves handing out candy. He’s not fat or loveably pudgy. He doesn’t even bellow ‘ho ho ho’.
Via Montenapoleone drips in designer. Designer groupies hang around smoking Marlborough’s readjusting their outlandish footwear and taking staged selfies. The street is saturated with diamonds, falsetto males with too much chest hair, nonnas with bleached brows and receding hairlines, mink, fox, stiletto heels and Prada bags. Luxury’s accumulated together and created this: a heaving, pulsating mix of the archaic, current and the imminent within the predisposed affluent sector.
The veneer is blinding, and deafening as I am discovering. The place is littered with Ferraris glossed in the most gregarious of palettes: green, orange, yellow. It’s an optical assault.
A redFerrari propels through the throngs of designer-clad bourgeois Milanese. Everyone stares in shock and suddenly a mob of IPhone 6s’ compete in the air for a picture. We’ve all become platitudinous paparazzi’s, parasites of the street and public havens. We can’t go anywhere without waving our slick technological brick in the air. How monotonous we’ve become. One holds is out for a capture and everyone follows suit.
The red Ferrari straddles the curb and parks outside of Armani. A young man with an agile physique steps out. He’s dressed in bloodshot, crimson red and white satin finishing. The two-piece tailoring flatters at all angles. The boots are midnight black and he’s made the uncharacteristic sartorial choice of tucking them into his trousers. As a combination, it works.
The only unsettling this about his overall appearance is the white corkscrew curled beard he’s sporting. It’s only after I’ve sized him up three times that it dawns on me he’s dressed as Santa. This is Babbo Natale in Armani, with aFerrari instead of a grotto and a six-pack replacing a beer gut. It’s theItalian version of Father Christmas, yet it makes the western version look like an obese marshmallow.
The kids, instead of sitting on Santa’s lap and forcing out faux smiles (a practice I’ve always found somewhat unnerving) are taking a ride in Babbo’s slay (an 812Superfast Ferrari). They are giddy with elation, whilst their parents look on in envy.
This is how the parochial Italians do Santa. In a £200,000 Ferrari with an output of 588kW.Three doors, receding seats, bespoke leather. They don’t do a fanfare grotto with kaleidoscopic lights and cheap treats. No, they do it with their kid inFerrari, shopping at Armani and guzzling on Caritizze.
*Babbo Natale is Italian for Santa Claus. In Italy, Christmas takes on more religious connotation and is traditionally more pared back and less commercialised then western celebrations