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Italian backlash awaits billionaires like Abramovich!

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 ANI

London, Aug.12 (ANI): Roman Abramovich may be a multibillionaire with palatial homes in Knightsbridge, Sussex, Marbella, the South of France and Colorado, his own Boeing 767 and five yachts, not to mention fleets of limousines and helicopters, but that does not guarantee a table at a restaurant in the fashionable resort of Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast.


That's what happened to him at the weekend, an indication of the growing Italian backlash against the rich and powerful, reports The Times.


With many Italians finding it hard to make ends meet, with food and fuel prices rising and the economy at a standstill, "From north to south, a rebellion is growing against those who show off their money and power," claims the Turin daily La Stampa.


Abramovich, 41, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, was on his yacht Grand Bleu - which has five cooks and forty-five waiters, when he decided he wanted to dine at Bistrot, on the Forte dei Marmi seafront, where a meal costs between ?70 (?55) and ?100 a head.


He is familiar with the Tuscan Bistrot and its ultra exclusive sister restaurant in Moscow, a replica that has become a favourite with wealthy Russians including the model and fashion designer Darya Zhukova, Abramovich's girlfriend, since it opened two years ago.


David Vaiani, 36, the owner of Bistrot in Forte dei Marmi, said he told Abramovich that "unfortunately we are fully booked. You can try again tomorrow."


The Russian was reportedly "so furious" that he left the resort immediately, heading for Sardinia.


Vaiani was unrepentant. "I have nothing personally against Signor Roman. He is an engaging and cordial person whom we had the honour of having as our guest about ten days ago. The problem is that we are serious professionals, and for us our customers come first. If we are full, we cannot just add more places: we would risk compromising the quality of our service. And that goes for everyone," he said.


Umberto Buratti, the Mayor of Forte dei Marmi, who said he was pleased that Abramovich favoured the resort, backed Vaiani.


"The rules apply to everyone here - residents, tourists, the rich," he said


Abramovich is not the first to feel the backlash against the super-rich. At the weekend Flavio Briatore, the wealthy playboy, manager of the Renault Formula One team and co-owner of QPR Football Club, was chased off a beach at Capriccioli, near Porto Cervo, in Sardinia by bathers who threw sand and buckets of water at him when he tried to land from his yacht.


He had intended to open a new restaurant close to his night-club, Billionaire, a haunt of Italy's jet set.


Roselina Salemi, a writer on social affairs, said: "People have had enough of the ostentatious and vulgar display of wealth by footballers, fashion designers, starlets - the champagne, the Ferraris, the flashy watches. We are looking at the end of an era." (ANI)



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