18 October 2020 04:36
Melanie Sykes flew to Italy's City of Love... and took a punt on a gondolier more than half her age. The TV host, 50, was on holiday in Venice with a pal – but as our snaps show, she was also busy building bridges with Riccardo Simionato, 23. Former model and mum-of-two Mel is believed to have fallen for Riccardo after he wowed her with some oar-some strokes during a trip on his gondola last Sunday. And less than 24 hours later, the pair were pictured kissing.
Former Boddingtons babe Mel posted a photo of a ride with Riccardo saying she was "just a bit giddy". But the holiday romance came to an end on Thursday when Riccardo wheeled Mel's suitcase on to a water taxi. When the Sunday Mirror tracked down Riccardo, he was singing to attract customers. At first, he claimed he did not know who Mel was, saying: "I don't remember. Blushing Riccardo refused to kiss and tell.
Asked if he prefers English women to locals, he replied: "Every person is different. The former chef laughed when asked if he always goes for older women and he refused to say if Mel is a similar age to his mother, who he still lives with. Yesterday, Mel was back home in Britain with her sons Roman, 18, and Valentino, 16, from her first marriage to actor Daniel Caltagirone, who is of Italian descent. Meanwhile, Riccardo, known as Ricky, was 975 miles away looking for new customers for his €80 (£72), 30-minute rides. A barista who saw Riccardo and Mel kissing in the Campo dei Frari square said: "I didn't realise how much older she was. Mel has been upfront about dating younger lovers. She said: "Younger men are often attracted to me and very open with me. "Men of my age tend to have shut down in some way. She said: "I feel a bit sorry for British men, who have adopted the limited vocabulary of the television character Keith Lemon when talking about, and to, women... During her jaunt in Venice, Mel told fans online: "I will be back." But Riccardo says he has not had any messages since she left the City of Canals. Although it looks like Mel might be gondola but not forgotten... Mel has had a string of young lovers since she and Daniel divorced in 2009. Roofer Jack Cockings, 16 years her junior, became her second husband in 2013 but they split eight months later. She reportedly dated pop star Olly Murs, who is 14 years younger, and was linked to German golfer Martin Kaymer, 15 years her junior. Mel found fame in the 90s in the Boddingtons beer ads and has hosted a variety of TV shows. She is surely not the first holidaymaker to get amorous with a gondolier in the romantic city of Venice. But then, Melanie Sykes is no ordinary tourist. Not only that, at 50 she is more than twice the age of the handsome boatman she was pictured kissing passionately, draping her arms around his neck as he clung tightly to her waist. Little surprise then that the TV and radio presenter, who found fame in the 1990s as the face of Boddingtons bitter, told her online followers she was feeling 'just a bit giddy'. Ms Sykes and the handsome Riccardo Simionato, 23, who still lives with his parents, went on to enjoy a six-day fling in the Floating City. It should be said, however, that twice-divorced Ms Sykes, who has two sons aged 18 and 16, looks much younger than her age. As the gallant gondolier, who declined to discuss their dalliance, himself noted: 'Beauty is relative.' Manchester-born Ms Sykes was in Venice on a mini-break with a female friend and first posted a picture of herself being punted along a canal by obliging Riccardo last Saturday. © Provided by Daily Mail Saturday: On her first day in Venice, and Melanie Sykes, 50, heads straight for the gondolas, where she met her holiday romance Riccardo Simionato The pictured embrace came less than 48 hours later, on Monday, and the next day she was seen enjoying an alfresco breakfast in the gondolier's company in the intimate Campo San Toma square. The following morning, Riccardo abandoned his gondola and joined Ms Sykes for a sightseeing boat trip along the Grand Canal. Speaking back on board his gondola, he grinned broadly as he told The Mail on Sunday: 'I don't remember. Pressed further, Riccardo, who was not born when Ms Sykes first found fame, acknowledged the 27-year age gap but added: 'Beauty is relative. © Provided by Daily Mail Monday: The pair met up and shared a passionate kiss two days after they were first spotted together © Provided by Daily Mail Tuesday: The next day Melanie was seen enjoying an alfresco breakfast in the gondolier's company in the intimate Campo San Toma square He remained with Ms Sykes until Thursday, the last day of her holiday, when they were pictured arm-in-arm under an umbrella. Riccardo wheeled Ms Sykes's suitcase on to a water taxi that took them both to the city's Marco Polo airport, where he waved her off as she made her way to passport control. Asked if he prefers English women, Mr Simionato replied: 'Every person is different, nationality doesn't matter. But he clammed up when asked if he planned to see Ms Sykes again. For Ms Sykes's part, she posted a tantalising picture on social media of the famous Rialto bridge with the caption: 'Ciao for now.' A former chef who followed in his father's footsteps to become a gondolier three years ago, Riccardo earns €80 (£72) for each half-hour boat ride. © Provided by Daily Mail Tuesday: Melanie is clearly delighted as they make plans to meet later that evening © Provided by Daily Mail Wednesday: The gondolier spent Wednesday, his day off, back on the water, taking a boat trip with Melanie Ms Sykes's dalliance is in keeping with her penchant for younger men. 'Men of my age tend to have shut down in some way, or they're not as confident,' she said three years ago. Coincidentally, a subsequent Boddingtons advert, this time starring actress Anna Chancellor, showed two Venetian gondolas drifting down a canal in Manchester, where the beer is made. © Provided by Daily Mail On Thursday they couldn't keep their hands off each other © Provided by Daily Mail Pictured: Melanie's Instagram post Ms Sykes went on to host a number of TV shows including ITV's Today With Des and Mel, with Des O'Connor, and Channel 4's The Big Breakfast. After the collapse of her first marriage to actor Daniel Caltagirone, Ms Sykes embarked on a whirlwind romance with Jack Cockings, a roofer, who she met on Twitter. Aged 28 at the time, he was 16 years her junior. They wed in 2013, but she filed for divorce after just seven months of marriage, later admitting 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. MELANIE Sykes has been making waves after splashing out on a trip to Venice and enjoying a six-day fling with a gondolier. The 50-year-old ex-Boddington beer girl was spotted locking lips with Riccardo Simionato, 23, on the trip. 9 Melanie Sykes, 50, had a fling with gondolier Riccardo Simionato, 23, while on a break in Venice But she didn't stop there after first meeting him last Saturday and she was still with him on the final day of her holiday on Thursday, when they were spotted arm-in-arm. Riccardo, when questioned about the fling by the Mail on Sunday, said: "I don't remember. 9 She hit the Italian city for a much needed relaxing holiday Credit: instagram/msmelaniesykes 9 She met Riccardo and the pair instantly hit it off Credit: instagram/msmelaniesykes 9 The pair were spotted arm-in-arm and sharing a kiss Credit: instagram/msmelaniesykes 9 Melanie took a shine to gondoliers, getting a snap of Sandro on her city break Credit: instagram/msmelaniesykes Riccardo added: "Beauty is relative. She was on the trip from last Saturday until Thursday in the romantic Italian city. Melanie is twice-divorced and has two sons aged 18 and 16. She needed the break after getting into a war of words with Celebrity Juice host, Keith Lemon, saying he had a "limited vocabulary". 9 Riccardo was not fussed about the age difference saying 'beauty is relative' Credit: instagram/msmelaniesykes He later hit back, saying it hasn't stopped him winning "two Baftas and two NTAs" — which is more than Mel can claim. Comic Leigh Francis, who plays Celebrity Juice host Keith, has revealed he privately messaged Mel after she made her remarks in an interview at the weekend. He said: "I reached out to her and asked why she didn't like me. 9 Mel's trip to Venice came after she was caught in a war of words with Celebrity Juice host Keith Lemon Credit: instagram/msmelaniesykes Mel, the ex of Olly Murs and Steve Coogan, said in her interview: "Sadly, in all realms of life, most men are pretty basic and disappointing. "I feel a bit sorry for British men who have adopted the limited vocabulary of the television character Keith Lemon when talking about and to women. 9 Melanie accused Keith Lemon of having a 'limited vocabulary' Credit: Getty Images - Getty 9 The presenter was most recently linked to comedian Steve Coogan Credit: Getty Images - Getty "I would be surprised, and indeed it would be a miracle, if any of these men are actually getting laid." On an Instagram Live, he said: "You might be stuck in a dungeon with Mel Sykes, who says you've got a limited vocabulary and you've got to convince her that you know loads of words."