PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: From the gondola to the streets of London: Melanie Sykes, 51, is joined by Venetian boyfriend Riccardo Simionato, 24, for first time in UK as smitten pair hug on romantic stroll
- Melanie Sykes, 51, reunited with her gondolier boyfriend Riccardo Simionato, 24, in London on Saturday
- The pair first met in October 2020 when Melanie headed to Venice on a mini-break with a friend
- Riccardo, who is 27 years her junior, had been the TV presenter’s gondolier during a boat ride on the canal
- The pair were pictured kissing and enjoyed a six-day fling in the Italian city before Melanie returned home
- Since then, she and Riccardo have embarked on a long-distance relationship
- Melanie returned to Venice on multiple occasions to reunite with Riccardo and on her last visit in August, the former Let’s Do Lunch host gushed her beau and the city ‘have my heart’
Melanie Sykes and her boyfriend Riccardo Simionato, a gondolier she met in Venice last year, were spotted looking as loved-up as ever as they reunited in London recently.
The TV presenter, 51, and her 24-year-old beau were seen heading out on a romantic stroll on Sunday, following Riccardo’s arrival to the UK, and only had eyes for each other as they shared a tender hug and walked hand-in-hand.
The pair first met in Venice in 2020, when Melanie headed overseas with a friend, and they enjoyed a six-day fling in the Italian water city – although, Riccardo’s trip to London would suggest their relationship has turned much more serious in recent months.
Smitten: Melanie Sykes and her boyfriend Riccardo Simionato, a gondolier she met in Venice last year, were spotted looking as loved-up as ever as they reunited for a romantic stroll in London on Sunday
A smitten Melanie looked the picture of happiness as she wrapped her arms around Riccardo, who is 27 years her junior, during their loved-up outing.
She was casually dressed in a frilled white top and dark-wash jeans, and teamed her dressed down ensemble with white trainers and a stylish black leather crossbody bag.
The former Let’s Do Lunch host wore her dark locks swept back into a low bun and opted for a pared back beauty look.
Riccardo, meanwhile, stepped out sporting an olive-hued sweatshirt, jeans and leather boots. Throughout the walk, he wrapped his jumper across his shoulders and was seen toting a daffodil flower in the belt hook of his jeans.
Loved-up: The former Let’s Do Lunch host, 51, was seen holding hands with her 24-year-old boyfriend Riccardo
Close: When they weren’t hand-in-hand, the pair walked with their arms wrapped around each other’s waists
Back where it began: Riccardo had been Melanie’s gondolier when they initially met over a year ago
He and Melanie walked hand-in-hand and seemed in good spirits – chatting away to one another and flashing smiles during their stroll.
When they weren’t holding hands, the couple had their arms firmly wrapped around each other’s waists and were seen sharing a tender moment where Melanie nestled into her beau’s shoulder as they hugged on the street.
She and Ricardo, who is based in Venice, have embarked on a long-distance relationship since meeting last year and just last month, Melanie headed back to Italy to enjoy a reunion with her man.
In October 2020, Melanie and Riccardo first met when she enjoyed a half-hour gondola ride through they city’s water channels for £72. Riccardo had been Melanie’s gondolier and the pair appeared to hit it off, with reports revealing they threw themselves into a six-day fling during her stay.
Having a moment: They were spotted hugging, with Melanie nestled into her boyfriend’s shoulder at one point
Happy: Melanie seemed thrilled to have Riccardo, who is 27 years her junior, in London with her – the gondolier is based in Venice and the pair met during a trip Melanie had taken to the Italian city in 2020
Going strong: The pair enjoyed a six-day fling while Melanie was in Venice on a mini-break with a pal, with their holiday romance soon turning into a long distance relationship
Committed: So much so, that Melanie has been seen taking trips to Venice to see Riccardo – last reuniting with him in Venice in August where she declared the former chef ‘has my heart’
Pictures surfaced of Melanie and Riccardo kissing and addressing her holiday romance at the time, the TV star told fans she ‘was experiencing so much joy, it was difficult to actually care’ who saw her.
She wrote via her page on the social media platform: ‘Morning strumpets. I knew I was being stalked on my holiday but I managed to ignore it, partly because It’s just what happens but mostly because I was experiencing so much joy, it was difficult to actually care.
‘May you also recognise, appreciate and take those happy moments in this crazy world. love Melanie x #livethatlife’
Manchester-born Melanie had been on a mini-break in Venice at the time with a female friend and had shared a snp of herself being punted along the canal by Riccardo.
Low-key: Both Melanie and Riccardo were dressed down for the outing, with the TV star stepping out in fitted jeans and a frilled white top she paired with trainers
Casual: Riccardo wore jeans, an olive-hued sweatshirt which had flowers embroidered onto the chest on one side
Relaxed: Sporting black leather boots, the Italian took off his jumper and tied it around his shoulders
Flower power: Riccardo appeared to be toting a daffodil flower in the belt hook of his trousers during the walk
The pair were then pictured together less than 48 hours later and Melanie was later seen enjoying an alfresco breakfast with Riccardo in Campo San Toma square, before the duo joined each other for a sightseeing boat trip.
At the time, Riccardo was pressed on his relationship with the former Big Breakfast presenter and remained coy about their romance at first. Speaking while on board his gondola, he told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I don’t remember. I meet a lot of people.’
He was quizzed about the pair’s considerable age gap and responded: ‘Beauty is relative. Maybe what in your eyes is beautiful, isn’t to me.’
Asked if he prefers English woman, Riccardo – a former chef, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a gondolier three years ago – said: ‘Every person is different, nationality doesn’t matter. True, no?’
He was later seen waving off Melanie as she headed home from her trip and made her way through passport control at the city’s Marco Polo airport.
A month later, in November 2020, the pair reunited as Melanie returned to Italy and the couple enjoyed a romantic trip to Lake Garda.
Melanie has returned to Venice on multiple occasions, with her last trip taking place in August. She returned to the picturesque ‘Floating City’ to celebrate her 51st birthday and while there was seen gushing about boyfriend Riccardo as their romance goes from strength to strength.
Sharing a snap of her during a water taxi ride, Melanie gushed: ‘Ciao for now beautiful Venice, you & your people have my heart.’
Private: Melanie tends to keep her relationship with Riccardo away from the public eye, but did address their holiday fling when last year when pictures surfaced of the duo kissing in Venice
Honest: Host Melanie told fans she ‘was experiencing so much joy, it was difficult to actually care’ who saw her and Riccardo together during her trip overseas
Coy: At the time they first met, Riccardo was pressed on his relationship with the former Big Breakfast presenter and remained coy about their romance at first
New love: Asked if he prefers English woman, Riccardo – a former chef, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a gondolier three years ago – said: ‘Every person is different, nationality doesn’t matter. True, no?’
Adorable: During her trip to Venice last month, Melanie was seen referring to Riccardo as her ‘amore’, which translates as ‘love’ in English
Cute: Riccardo had replied to Melanie on social media and wrote, ‘Thank you very much for the good times spent together.’
She tagged Riccardo in her post and referred to him as her ‘amore’, which translates as ‘love’ in English, with Riccardo replying to Melanie: ‘Thank you very much for the good times spent together.’
Melanie, who made her name pulling pints from an ice cream van in adverts for Boddingtons beer in 1996, is mother to sons Roman, 18, and Valentino, 16.
She shares her two children with ex-husband Daniel Caltgirone, who she was married to for eight years between 2001 and 2008.
Melanie then went on to find love with roofer Jack Cockings, who she met on Twitter. He was 28 years old at the time they first met, making him 16 years her junior, and the pair wed in 2013.
Seven months later, Melanie filed for divorce and later admitted she married ‘the wrong person’.
She was briefly then linked to singer Olly Murs, 14 years her junior, and German golfer Martin Kaymer, who is 15 years younger, before dating comedian Steve Coogan, 55, for six months last year.
Mum-of-two: Melanie, who made her name pulling pints from an ice cream van in adverts for Boddingtons beer in 1996, is mother to sons Roman, 18, and Valentino, 16
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