September 2012. I was at the Monaco yacht show, an event focused on superyachts over 20 meters in length, considered the most important exhibition on the water of the largest yachts in Europe. For me, it was a great honor to collaborate with RINA, the Italian naval registry of Genoa since 1861. I had been in charge of following the image of their stand and their events and above all of the designing the gifts for their customers: for them, I had studied hand-painted and handwritten parchments, customized for each individual customer, inserted in a leather envelope with an exclusive nautical detail that embellished the same.
Among the high-sounding names, one in particular could only stand out, the most important: His Serene Highness Albert of Monaco. At the same time, the same collaboration was confirmed by Kanuhura a prestigious resort in the Maldives, which was participating in the RINA event in collaboration with Boat International, the most important nautical magazine, at the Hermitage in Montecarlo.
They recommended studying a special gift for the Prince, which could amaze him without spending limits. I remembered that Kanuhura boasted, in addition to its prestige, a collection of 2,000 species of very rare orchids. I concentrated my imagination on this candid and elegant flower until I made it the protagonist. So I hasked Kanuhura send me two white specimens, the most beautiful. Then, with a sophisticated and exclusive procedure, I transformed one of the two flowers into silver. The box was in natural fabric, containing an emotional message and on the lid, as a decoration, the same flower left natural. I presented the finished work to Kanuhura’s director, who was very impressed. The only doubt he raised was on the price: in fact, he thought he was spending much more!
For the same occasion, another client of mine, owner of a highly prestigious confectionary company, wanted to sponsor the aforementioned events with one of his jewels, the marron glacè. He entrusted me with a further task: a banal white box containing marron glacé, telling me: “Only you are able to amaze the Prince” and, with an ironic tone, he added: “I am sure you will create a package at his height!”
Only at that point did I realize the workload that had been entrusted to me: a lot, perhaps too much, and above all of great responsibility. Fear and doubts were the feelings that vibrated in me, but as expected, love and passion had now taken possession of my mind. Accompanied by my madness I decided to accept, diving upside down without ever raising it, times were very tight!
The winner of that edition was ASLEC 4, a wonderful Motoryacht by Rossi Navi, a 48-metre semi-displacement characterized by large external spaces and a distinctive bow. It was morning when I went on board to arrange the prizes that I had made with morbid attention, the same that one pays to a son, when I was informed by the palace that the gifts destined for the Prince had to be presented strictly open, consequently the marron glacé could not be exposed.
I faced the first inconvenience keeping calm, nothing had to spoil the positive energy I was breathing. When the person responsible for the event arrived, she saw the box and was impressed by its beauty, then, after a moment’s hesitation, she said to me: “Let’s leave it here for now, we’ll see later…”.
Here comes the Prince, punctual as always, kind, polite as is his style, and with his usual reassuring smile. She greeted everyone following the ship’s protocol and the ceremony began. I immediately noticed how insistently the Prince looked at the “mysterious closed box” and here was his nod towards the person in charge. INCREDIBLE! MY BOX AS THE FIRST GIFT!
Here is the magical coincidence that has always accompanied me, the only closed box had aroused a strong interest in him. His Highness was waiting for me with a beaming expression, then with a slight movement of her lips she whispered in my ear: “What’s in it?” “Monseigneur, des marrons glacées pour vous, c’est l’excellence italienne”. Then, whispering in my ear, with a tone of transport, he exclaimed: “I LOVE THE MARRONS GLACÉES!”
I will never forget the joy printed on our two faces. This moment cannot be described with words alone, in fact this time, I will leave the emotions to your imagination! It was the turn of Wladimir, director of Kanuhura, who presented his gift. A simple thank you would have been enough to reassure him of the choice, but it didn’t go like this: amazement mixed with strong interest was evident on Albert of Monaco’s face, in fact he carefully observed every detail, every detail, read the message and was enchanted by the object and deep meaning. He looked at it and looked at it several times, then complimented me on the excellent choice, thanking me warmly.
And then a completely unexpected request from the Prince arrived: “I would like to meet the person who conceived all of this”. “Here I am!”, I introduced myself a second time, and it was a triumph of beautiful emotions. His Serene Highness had appreciated the choice of the gift and was very interested in knowing the procedure used to achieve this result. Words are not enough to describe the moment! Later the Prince personally delivered my two gifts to his bodyguards, making sure they took them directly to the Palace.
The event ended with great joy and maximum gratification. We celebrated Aslec 4’s victory with “the famous marron glacèes”, making official the weakness that His Serene Highness reserved for these delicacies! The same project was reconfirmed for me the following year: at the award ceremony for the most beautiful yacht, I presented myself again with the traditional marron glacé box, rigorously sealed, but with a new package. Everything went as planned, we looked into each other’s eyes, both knowing what we were thinking about…
After the delivery and the very welcome comments referring to the packaging, with his innate kindness he asked me: “Locatelli, I would like you to personally bring me this gift to the Palazzo. It’s too precious for me, I wouldn’t want to find them when I get back.” What to say? A real joy! I live on emotions, for me the lifeblood of my existence.