**Disclaimer: The names of the people have been changed for the protection of their privacy, and for a bit of comedic affect.
I landed in Milan excited to see Gianni. I got through customs without a hitch. The glass door opened, and I could see Gianni standing under a poster of an Italian chocolate candy. The poster read. “Are You Ready for an Italian Kiss?”—in English, no less. Gianni told me he was responsible for the poster and its placement in the airport. Now that’s a gift.
We drove to Cannes and checked into a modern hotel on the Croisette. He had been coming to Cannes for this advertising festival for years. He told me he had never before brought a date. I was at first impressed by this notion. How could that be true?
We threw our bags into the room and headed out to get an aperitif. Gianni told me he always had drinks at the Hotel Carlton. Everyone who was anyone in advertising seemed to be there. Gianni ordered a Kir Royal for me. OK, I started knowing only champagne with orange juice. Then I was introduced to the addition of peach puree in Venice. I was now hooked on the addition of a mere teaspoon of this currant liqueur that mostly remains on the bottom of the flute.
We would have drinks at the Carlton at the end of each day, and then go to another of Gianni’s favorite spots. The first night Gianni always got his oyster and raw fish fix at the fish market. The second night we hit La P’tite for their fish soup—soupe de poissons. Noori’s was good for lamb curry. I didn’t know Gianni liked Indian food. The last night we went to La Pizza Cresci, I supposed because Gianni was yearning for a taste of Italy.