Friday, 5 May 2017

Something for the Weekend: Madrine of the Giro d'Italia

Well, today is the anniversary of 100th running of the Giro d'Italia, one of the big three cycling tours and, really, second in importance after the Tour de France (sorry, Spaniards).  The Giro is the first of the major tours to take place every year and begins today in Sardinia. The jovially politically incorrect Italians have, in the past and regularly since 2010, appointed a madrina (godmother) for the event, who is usually a former Miss Italy, a model, a TV presenter, an actress or a dancer.  Sometimes all five!  I used to spend a lot of time in Italy for work and they had dancing girls on every show.  Italian children's shows?  Scantily clad dancing girls. Italian satirical shows?  Scantily clad dancing girls.  Italian quiz shows?  Scantily clad dancing girls and if it was Colpo Grosso the show often culminated with a full frontal striptease by one of the scantily clad dancing girls.  I worked with a lady at that time whose English niece was a dancer and she said Italy offered the best opportunities for dancers in Europe, as they needed so many dancing girls.

2016 & 2017 Giorgia Palmas

When I worked in Milan we usually had lunch in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, where Miss Palmas is posing with the Giro trophy.

Anyway, this gives me the flimsy excuse to look at some of the former Giro d'Italia madrine of the last few years.  The 2017 Madrina is the same as last years, uniquely, an appropriately Sardinian lady called Giorgia Palmas, seen here posing at the official launch of the race in Milan earlier in the month.

Palmas first came to fame in 2000, at the age of eighteen, when, as Miss Italy she came second in the Miss World competition.  Two years later she was chosen to be one of the two young women (always one blonde and one brunette known as Veline) who deliver news items to the newsreaders (and dance about) in the long running Italian satirical news TV show Striscia la notizia, which raised her profile in Italy considerably.

After her two year stint on Striscia la notizia she appeared in a number of other Italian TV shows while continuing to work as a model, becoming the 'face' of Cotton Club underwear.

In 2005 she posed for Max magazine, which was always a fine source for pictures of underdressed, young continental women. 

 Max centrefold February 2005

She was the centrefold and was portrayed almost falling out of her clothes in a number of shots.

She must have been popular, as Max had her back to feature in their 2006 calendar, where she had even more trouble keeping her clothes on.

I had a number of these fine Max calendars over the years (the Old Bat used to buy them for me) and they were large and impressive productions, each page being three times the size of the (oversized) magazine. 

In 2011 she took part in the eighth series of L'isola dei famosi, which is the Italian version of Celebrity Survivor.  The show features a mixture of celebrities, relatives of celebrities (in this series it included Brigitte Nielsen's son and Garibaldi's great grandson!) and non-celebrities.  Palmas was up against twenty other contestants, including three other models and won the whole show.

From 2004 until 2011 she was engaged to Italian footballer Davide Bombardini and they had a daughter together, although they are no longer a couple.  More recently she has been attached to Vittorio Brumotti, an extreme cyclist, appropriately

In 2011, 2013 and 2014 she was co-host of Paperissimi Sprint a TV and video bloopers show.  Given my many social adventures (Paola, Cristina, Beatrice and, especially, Ilaria) in Italy in the eighties and nineties I have always had an appreciation for young Italian women and TV stations in Italy still parade lovely girls for no other reason than that they are lovely.  They have not succumbed to politically correct cries about the objectfication of women, as most Italian women don't mind and like being objectified (they are all, however, very much in control!). 

2015 Cristina Chiabotto

Next, it's back a year for the madrina of 2015's Giro, in the leggy form of Cristina Chiabotto.

Cristina won the Miss Italy competition in November 2004, just a couple of months past her eighteenth birthday.  This led to a host of press and advertising jobs.  At just half an inch under six feet tall she towered over most of the other contestants.

In 2005 she took part in the second series of Ballando con le stelle, the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars (the UK's Strictly Come Dancing).  On this she met fellow competitor, actor Fabio Fulco, and they linked up romantically.

One thing my extensive time in Rome and Milan gave me, after a series of blonde and redheaded girlfriends, was an appreciation of Italian (especially Roman and Southern Italian) women's black hair. One thing I don't like, I am afraid, is women (particularly dark haired ones) who dye their hair blonde.  It's fake, never looks natural and also gives their hair the consistency of high tensile straw.  

I make an exception for some redheads who dye their hair red as red hair has less pigment in it and so redheads go grey early.  One of my ex-girlfriends was quite grey by the time she reached thirty.  Fair enough to get back to your natural colour but black to blonde? No (sorry, Jessica Alba).

So we much prefer Cristina with her natural black hair colour, than as a stringy blonde.  She has kept herself very busy as a TV presenter; hosting a whole host of TV shows in Italy.  Italian Wikipedia describes her as a TV presenter, model and showgirl.  

Idon't think that anyone on UK TV would be described as a 'showgirl' but all credit to the Italians for still featuring attractive women on TV whose only job is to look attractive.  They are rather like the girls who used to decorate British TV quizzes, like Sale of the Century ("From Norwich! It's the quiz of the week!"), in the past. So if the prize was a boat they had to pose in bikinis, of course. Splendid idea and one the Italians have not abandoned, thankfully.  My sister went to a health farm in Malta once and staying there were two women there who were to appear as these sorts of ladies on a UK quiz show(The Price is Right, I think) and had been sent there by the producers to lose half a stone.  You couldn't do that these days!

In 2013 she became a presenter on the Juventus football team's own TV station, no doubt helped by the fact that she is a lifelong supporter of the team and looks great in the team kit.

Cristina was born in Piedmont, not far from Turin, in the north of Italy and will be thirty one years old this September.

She was chosen to be the madrina of the 2015 Giro and did all the requisite posing with the trophy and the competition leaders jerseys.

So, another fine former Miss Italy as madrina of the Giro.  We can't imagine the Tour of Britain having someone in such a role but then she would have to look good in waterproof clothes.

2014 Chiara Francini

While the preceding two Giro madrine have both been beauty queens, TV presenters and showgirls the lady chosen for the 2014 race was a proper actress, Chiara Francini.  Born in Florence she studied humanities at university before doing a three year theatre course. After this she did two years in a theatre company in Rome.

Maschi contro femmine

She got her first film role in 2003 and since then has appeared in two dozen films including the Spike Lee directed, Miracle at St Anna (2008).  She unveiled her impressive body in the film Maschi contro femmine (2008)

She is also a regular on Italian TV and is currently appearing as a principal character in the RAI series Non Dirlo al mio Capo (Do not tell my boss) where she plays an unlikely babysitter.

A big fan of Monica Bellucci, she certainly has something of her sultry charm and elegance, while having a rather retro style of her own.

Now 37 years old, she did all the requisite pink jersey posing in her role as 2014 Giro madrina, 

All in all, a very fine example of Italian womanhood!

2013 Alessia Ventura

So back to 2013 and the lady who was chosen to be that year's Giro madrina, Alessia Ventura.   Signorina Ventura, has a whole host of skills and is described as an actress, model, showgirl, TV presenter and dancer. What a talented lady she is!

Alessia parades the Giro trophy before the 2013 race

Here she is looking rather sportiva but wearing some rather bicycle pedal unfriendly shoes.

Alessia had her first modelling jobs at the age of fifteen and by the time she was sixteen she was already a showgirl on Italian TV.

Deciding to stretch her abilities she studied acting and got a number of TV commercial and sit-com parts.

She has kept herself busy with TV work and modelling jobs; representing a number of Italian fashion brands.

Last year she was seen promoting the imaginatively named Hair Company Professional range.

Almost inevitably, she acquired a professional footballer for a boyfriend. She has a rather sixties look about her which I find rather appealing.  Another goal by the Giro organisers!

2012 Giorgia W├╝rth 

Unlike the other ladies so far, she is only half Italian because, although born in Genoa, her father is Swiss as you can tell by her surname. Still, she is another perky (very perky in this shot) woman (born in 1979) chosen to look good holding the curious Giro trophy, which looks like a giant, golden potato snack or, possibly, a piece of spiralised vegetable.

Giorgia has a degree in communications sciences, which probably isn't to do with how radio waves are broadcast and so forth.  She also studied singing and acting and, less surprisingly, did some modelling.

She got her first job as a presenter on the Italian Disney Channel at the age of twenty one.  A number of TV announcer and presenter jobs followed, plus a music video appearance.  She was soon doing TV and film acting roles and generally being an attractive girl about town.

She has appeared in many magazine pictorials but I am going to look at just three here.   Firstly, in 2009, she featured on the cover of and in a pictorial in Maxim, entwined with a snake.

In April 2011 she appeared in Playboy Italia in some arty but not very revealing shots, although this one of her naked back is rather splendid.

Finally, here she is in June 2012's Max which would have appeared during her time as madrina of the Giro.

2011 Cristiana Capotondi

2011's madrina was Cristiana Capotondi, who is also a proper actress in leading roles on film and TV, rather than a model/beauty queen/showgirl. Her charms are more subtle than some of the other more obvious ladies here but I think she is delicately lovely. .

As usual, she had to be on duty for the launching of the Giro jerseys as well as pose in the leader's maglia rosa and the usual pink evening dress for the official launch event,  

Cristiana was born in Rome in September 1980 and did a communications degree at Sapienza University in Rome.  This is one of the oldest universities in Europe and was founded in 1303.

She got her first acting role at the age of thirteen in the Italian TV series Amico Mio.  She appeared in many TV series over the next few years and appeared in her first film in 1995 at the age of fifteen.  

It was nine years until her next film role, although she continued to appear in TV series and commercials, but from then on was a regular in both supporting and leading roles.

In 2009 she took the title role in the lavish Italian mini-series Sisi, where she played Empress Elisabeth of Austria.  In 2006 and 2011 she was nominated for  David di Donatello awards; the Italian Oscars, so she is not just a model who acts, like some of the other madrine we have featured.  In 2014 she made her directorial debut with a short film.

In August 2006 she made a rare glamour magazine appearance (compared with some of the other madrine we have featured) for Max magazine.

Her pictorial was photographed by Giovanni Cozzi, who shot other pictorials for Max (including their 2005 calendar).


2010 Yolanthe Cabau

The first madrina in the current sequence was appointed for the 2010 race but, surprisingly, didn't have any Italian blood at all, something that has not been repeated.  Yolanthe Cabau was born on Ibiza to a Spanish father and a Dutch mother.  Her mother left her father when she was five and moved to the Netherlands.

She decided to pursue an acting career and got her first role at the age of sixteen and from 2004 appeared regularly in Dutch, Austrian and Turkish TV shows and films.  She has also appeared in anumber of pop videos.

She continues to act and do a lot of TV presenting.  She is a famous Dutch WAG, having married footballer Wesley Sneijder just before her madrina duties in the 2010 Giro.

She was Dutch FHM's sexiest Dutchwoman in 2006, 2007 and 2009.  In 2007 she launched her own beauty and lingerie range.  That year she also won the BNN (Dutch TV station) best actress award.

I hope you have enjoyed these European ladies, who are not at all well known in the UK and America but deserve more exposure.  All excellent choices by the Giro d'Italia organisers and long may the tradition of race madrina continue.


  1. I'm amazed you get any figure-painting done at all - compiling this post must have taken hours. Thanks for another informative and entertaining read - hopefully someone warned those poor girls that they could catch a chill after sitting around in all that damp clothing?

    1. It's warmer in Italy. Man cannot live by soldiers alone!