This luxury-loving financier was shocked by London prices
Gianluca has lived in London for the last five years. He spent a year in his early 20s doing an MA at LSE then went back to his native Rome. But when the crunch hit in 2008 he decided to swap La Dolce Vita for a more Anglo-Saxon work ethic.
He’s found London awash with fellow Italians, neighbouring Spaniards and Greeks. The city has become a melting pot for Euros abroad. He’s lived as a student before in the capital but returning in his early 30s, he has certain expectations. He occupied the second floor of a palazzo in Rome (admittedly owned by his family) with huge ceiling heights and room to house a party for 80.
He knew London would be more expensive but nothing quite prepared him for the grotty accommodation his rental budget afforded him. He wasn’t going to start London life in a Pimlico basement, so he upped his budget and rented a walk-up on the right side of Earls Court (you could almost call it South Kensington).
He’s done well in his private equity firm and cultivated a good group of friends. They tend to congregate at Terminal 5 on weekends, heading to the pistes in winter or more Mediterranean climes come spring. His airmiles are brimming and he treats the plane as an extension of the office: a good place to get work done without the distractions of social media. He doesn’t ever post things on Facebook (far too uncool) but uses it to furtively spy on friends. He dresses, as every self-respecting Euro should, in jeans, a crisp white shirt and a well-cut blazer. In winter, he knots a vibrantly coloured scarf (his preferred shade is ecclesiastical purple) around his neck.
He’s now ready to buy and acclimatised to London prices – no longer does he throw his hands in the air and say, ‘but you could buy three times the size of this in Roma!’. He’s shrewd enough to realise that an investment in the capital is a wise one that’s only likely to go up.
His preferred area is – without question – South Kensington, and within that quartier his dream address begins with Onslow, and ends with Square. There is a balancing act to do however, the premium paid is huge and Gianluca likes to entertain. He is an accomplished cook, having learnt at his mother’s apron strings.
We find a flat in a Kensington Square. It has wonderful proportions and is tucked behind the High Street and Whole Foods (the perfect place, he tells me, to pick up girls on a weekday evening). It has a 25-foot reception room facing the square, a good double bedroom, a galley kitchen and a study-slash-second bedroom for the occasional visitor from Italy. And like its owner, it’s effortlessly elegant.