New restaurant: Giacomo at Larvotto Beach

The doors have swung open on the new beachside restaurant Giacomo, where diners can travel to culinary Italy while enjoying that famous Monegasque view and hospitality.

The Big Mamma family now has a beachy big brother to add to their ranks with the addition of their first trattoria, Giacomo. Established at the far end of Larvotto Beach, the restaurant is now serving up fine Italian fare whilst patrons sit on a toes-in-the-sand terrace with space for 84 guests soaking up the view of the Med.

Giacomo has a team of seasoned pros at the helm, including Big Mamma veteran Mike Lucchese, Alessio Tallarico – a Calabrian who has worked in the luxury hotel industry for years, and Alessandro Orientale Caputo, who will be head of house.

Chef Adrian Spatz will be serving up dishes in the spirit of those that nonna used to make, only with a bit more sophistication. Starters like zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh ricotta and smoked stracciatella, bruschetta with large slices of mozzarella di bufala and grated bottarga, and vitello tonnato will tempt the palate. But it’s the John Limon starter that steals the show, featuring extra fresh sea bass gravlax from the Mediterranean, with the possibility of a caviar supplement.

The pastas are made fresh and topped with comforting veal ragu, earthy truffle, saffron and parmesan, or a light tomato sauce accompanied by a lobster tail, again, with caviar as a possible supplement. Of course, no Italian joint would be respectable without pizza, and Giacomo offers seven choices, each more delectable than the last.

Roast sole, beef carpaccio, octopus skewers, and caprese salad are highlights of the main course menu.

The interior of Giacomo is playful, bright and welcoming

The design is pure Italy, created to make patrons feel like they’re at home. Say the owners, “Our in-house design team has decided to make you stay all year round in a seaside villa in southern Italy. A place for family reunions, where you can bask in the sun, feet in the water while eating nonna’s delicious dishes. In this villa, we keep all the memories of past holidays, with trinkets on each windowsill, family photos of the team, but also holiday photos taken from vintage Italian magazines on the walls.”

Owners Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux, himself Monegasque, named the restaurant in tribute to Tigrane’s father, Jacques. Giacomo is Italian for Jacques, and the little love note to his dad can be found engraved on the glassware of the trattoria, which reads “To the glory of my father”.

“Giacomo displays the must-haves of Italian cuisine, sunshine and breath-taking views of the Mediterranean all year round,” say the owners. “Our new address pays tribute to what we love most in life: good food, spritzes under the parasol, the sound of the waves and high waist swim briefs. An invitation to slip your feet under the sun table at the zenith or golden hour, this is the perfect spot to taste seasonal piatti, bursting with freshness and always direct from our producers.”

For a taste of Italy on the beach in Monaco, Giacomo is the place to be!

 

 

A champion’s drive from Verstappen in Hungary

Max Verstappen won the final race before the summer break in Hungary on Sunday, whilst Monegasque rival Charles Leclerc was the victim of another Ferrari strategic error.

Few would have believed that Verstappen would seal his eighth win of the season and the second in just seven days at the start of the day. The reigning World Champion started 10th on the grid following a technical failure in qualifying.

Ferrari, however, couldn’t profit as George Russell shocked fans at the Hungaroring to take the first pole of his career. Carlos Sainz took second, whilst Leclerc could only manage third.

In contrast to last season’s hectic, incident-filled first-lap, this year’s race got off to a clean start as few drivers managed to make inroads. The top three remained unchanged; the biggest benefactors were Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen, who both gained two places off the line.

By lap 10, Verstappen was already up to sixth, whilst the Ferraris were struggling to catch Russell up front. That changed during the second stint of the race. Following the first round of pit stops, Russell couldn’t replicate his pace and was quickly reeled in by Leclerc, who overtook his team-mate Sainz in the pits.

Despite a valiant defence from the Brit, Leclerc did force his way past the Mercedes by being late on the brakes going into turn one.

Meanwhile, Verstappen was quietly putting himself in contention for the win. He had pace throughout and had the strategy to match. A pit stop on lap 39 saw him undercut both Sainz and Russell. Leclerc was now all that stood in the way of another Verstappen victory.

But once again, Ferrari fumbled the bag. Whereas rivals were pitting onto the soft and medium tyres, Leclerc was pitted onto the hards: a questionable call, which will likely precipitate another inquest at the Italian manufacturer.

Just one lap later Verstappen made light work of getting by his Monégasuqe rival, but Leclerc would be given a lifeline just seconds later. The Dutchman looked to be romping away to victory, when on the slippery Hungarian track he spun 360 degrees to allow Leclerc back past, whilst Sergio Perez and Hamilton also closed back in.

That error was of little consequence. Leclerc was simply on the wrong tyres and didn’t have the pace to challenge Verstappen. Three laps later, Verstappen passed Leclerc for a second time in what was the definitive move of the race.

Things would go from bad to worse for Leclerc, whose Ferrari seemed to be moving through treacle as rivals just streamed past. Russell made his way through Leclerc before Ferrari tried to cover up their error by pitting Leclerc again. It was one pit stop too many, one more than any other driver and by the time he rejoined, he found himself in sixth and out of reach. Although he closed in on Perez’s Red Bull, he didn’t have the time to make a pass and made no further gains.

Having not earned a double podium all season, Mercedes secured their second in the space of a week. Once again it was Hamilton who finished ahead of Russell thanks to a later overtake to ensure a carbon copy of the French GP podium.

Verstappen’s performance was one of the finest of his young career, and was executed in the calm, clinical style befitting of a champion. The Dutchman is now the strong favourite to retain his title with an 80-point lead to manage going into the final 10 races of the season. Although it feels unassailable at this point, there is still time for Leclerc to reel in the run-away leader. He has the machinery for it, but last week’s crash at France made doubts about his champion credentials resurface, whilst the latest in a litany of tactical errors from Ferrari paint a picture of a title challenge that may just have come off the rails.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview: Massimo Ceccaroni on the real Breel

AS Monaco’s new recruit Breel Embolo has come a long way since his days in the Basel academy. As his former youth coach told Monaco Life, the Swiss international is ready to make the step up.

Massimo Ceccaroni coached Embolo at U16, U18 and U21 level at Basel, and recalls the unmistakable potential that Monaco’s new forward showed. “He spent just one year with the U16s, then one year at the U18s, and then just one year after that he joined the U21s. Once there, he quickly made the last step to the first team because he was physically so strong,’ began Ceccaroni. “He was the player, you saw it in the U16, that had more potential than any other player,” he continued.

From Cameroon to the Swiss academy

Embolo’s route just to that point was far from conventional or simple. “He came from nothing,” said Ceccaroni. Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, he moved to France with his mother at an early age. Soon after he moved to Switzerland, where he could take his passion for football from the street to the academy, firstly with FC Nordstern Basel Jugend, then with the Old Boys Youth, before eventually joining Basel.

There, his eagerness and passion for the game immediately shone through. Ceccaroni evokes a memory of a young Embolo, who was willing to take to the pitch at – almost – any cost. “You saw at the beginning he had to play as a striker – no.9, no.11, no.7… he doesn’t care. He said to the coaches, ‘Listen, I know perhaps I wasn’t so good in the training session, but I don’t care if you let me play as a no.9, I just want to play. Maybe not as a goalkeeper, but even as a central defender.’ It means a lot in terms of his attitude. He loves football; he loves to be in the team.  Breel is, from top to bottom, a football player,” said Ceccaroni.

Pedagogy of a footballer

He also loves to learn. An “open-minded” player, Ceccaroni believes that in moving to Monaco, Embolo is making a forward step in his career, which inherently implies an evolutionary, pedagogical process. Whilst his former youth coach waxes lyrical about certain aspects of his game, he believes he can improve a number of facets in order to become a more complete player.

“He’s doing a lot with his mentality and with his physique, but in terms of technique I think he’ll learn something in Monaco. That’s the same for the tactical side as well, he will be open to learning more. In Germany, these elements aren’t necessarily the focus in the training sessions. They are very athletic and want to play very offensive football. I think in France, he can learn a lot tactically. It’s the right moment to make the next step,” said Ceccaroni.

A system of support

He will need help in doing so. As an expressive, confident player on the pitch, Ceccaroni reveals that off the pitch, he can be a “sensitive” character – someone who needs a hand on the shoulder.

Philippe Clement has been praised for his man management by members of Monaco’s current crop. That, and of course the confidence shown him by the recruitment department, will certainly help him to bed in quicker and to express himself on the pitch. “I have the confidence of the club’s hierarchy, who have shown me what is a very fine sporting project,” said Embolo during his unveiling as a Monaco player.

“Breel is also a little bit sensitive,” says Ceccaroni. “If Clement can be close to Breel, he will get more out of him. He needs the right environment, he needs to be comfortable,” he continued. In Clement, Embolo may have the right manager, at the right moment. At 25, the Swiss international is reaching the peak of his powers, and Clement could extract the best out of him.

Inopportune injuries

Thus far, despite netting 32 times in 136 Bundesliga performances, there is a lingering feeling that he has not yet fulfilled the potential that he first showed when he burst onto the scene with the Switzerland team at Euro 2016 at the age of 19.

Those performances earned him a €26.5m move to Schalke, at which point inopportune injuries began to slow down his progression. A fibula fracture ruled him out of the majority of his debut season in the Bundesliga. Since, injuries have arrived at regular intervals. An ankle fracture in 2017 kept him on the treatment table for over five months and a fractured foot saw him miss four months of the 2018/19 season.

He then moved on from Schalke and joined Borussia Mönchengladbach, which didn’t entail a change in fortunes. Although the severity of the injuries sustained decreased, the regularity of them increased. Last season, he missed 90 days due to two separate hamstring injuries.

Ceccaroni speculated about the causes of his injury record: “If you look at his career, he picks up injuries at the worst moments. As he’s very strong and plays very physically, he does pick up injuries and then that has knocked him back.”

As well as endowing Embolo with confidence, Clement’s expertise, as well as those of James Bunce and his performance department, will help in this regard. Constructing the perfect training regime, tailored to Embolo’s needs and capacities will play an essential part in keeping him injury free and, by extension, maximising his potential.

Cutting his own path

Delivering on that potential is now Embolo’s task. As he said last week, “I’m at the right age to fully develop here.” When it comes to his personal progression, Embolo has always first and foremost taken the decisions that he believes to be in his best interest. Following Euro 2016, Embolo was linked to any and every major club. However, during that period, which would be unsettling for most players, Embolo remained focused on his game. “I think he was very relaxed about that. I think people around him were more interested in the big clubs than him. He wasn’t influenced by other people, who were saying ‘You have to go there or go there.’ No, he focused on football,” said Ceccaroni.

His latest move to AS Monaco has been taken with his personal development in mind, but as Ceccaroni stressed, Embolo is a “team player”. He continued, “If he’s only trying to be the star, he feels lost. I think this is such an important part of him.” A player endowed with natural ability, there is no reason why, at Monaco, Embolo can’t fulfil both his desire to develop and to be part of a cohesive unit, capable of chasing silverware.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Sven Mandel

 

 

 

Med ecosystem threatened by huge temp increase

A marine heatwave is gripping the Mediterranean with surface temperatures up to five degrees hotter than the seasonal average.

As a record-breaking heatwave engulfs Europe, experts say higher than average temperatures in the Mediterranean sea are posing a threat to the entire marine ecosystem.

According to a report Friday by Mercator Ocean International, a non-profit organisation that provides ocean science-based services, the huge marine heatwave began in May in the Ligurian sea. By July, it had spread from the Balearic Sea to Sardinia, as well as east of Corsica and throughout the Tyrrhenian Sea, as “exceptional surface temperatures of between 28 and 30°C can be observed through the Mercator Ocean International digital ocean grid.”

Mercator Ocean International says Mediterranean waters have seen temperatures rise as high as 5°C.

“The surface temperature anomaly map shows higher than normal values, in the order of +4 to +5°C from the east of the Balearic Islands to the east of Corsica, with reference to the climatological base established over the last 20 years.”

The threats posed to marine life are significant.

“It is important to be aware of the possible consequences for local fauna and flora, as well as the occurrence of extreme weather events that could result in natural disasters,” it said.

France’s CNRS research centre has noted that marine heatwaves in 1999, 2003 and 2006 caused mass die-offs for some species, notably the posidonia, a flowering plant that is under threat of extinction in the Mediterranean.

Photo of Villefranche-sur-Mer by Monaco Life

 

 

 

Investigation reopens into Rybolovlev’s art fraud claims

The long-running billion euro dispute between AS Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev and Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier has reignited, with Geneva’s criminal court of appeal overturning a dismissal of Rybolovlev’s complaints.

It’s a move that Rybolovlev’s lawyers believe will “swiftly establish the criminal responsibility of Yves Bouvier and his acolytes”, according to a statement obtained by Monaco Life.

The case, often dubbed the Bouvier Affair, has been played out in court rooms across the world, captivating the art community for seven years.

Rybolovlev, recognised as one of the world’s most prominent art collectors, is accusing his former agent Bouvier of having swindled €1.1 billion from him through the €2 billion sales of 38 works of art from 2003 to 2014. In 2017 and 2019, the Russian owner of AS Monaco football club filed two complaints in Geneva against Bouvier and his alleged accomplices Tania Rappo and Jean-Marc Peretti, for gang fraud and money laundering.

In September 2021, the case was dismissed by the district lead prosecutor, Yves Bertossa, who claimed that it was mostly based on evidence collected in a previous criminal procedure in Monaco, which was annulled in 2020 for being “partial and disloyal”.

The prosecutor also considered that the accusations of fraud against Yves Bouvier were “contradicted by many elements”.

But on 26th July, Geneva’s court of appeal ruled that the “possible existence of a deception cannot be denied”. It said that it was “surprising” that the prosecutor in Geneva had dismissed Rybolovlev’s criminal proceedings against Bouvier, Tania Rappo and Jean-Marc Peretti on the grounds of violations of the procedure in Monaco, as “nothing of the kind” had happened in Geneva, Bouvier’s home city.

The case has now been returned to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation.

According to The Art Newspaper, Bouvier has welcomed the decision of the court, “which will see the Geneva Prosecutor’s Office carry out an additional investigation to further demonstrate the hopelessness of Rybolovlev’s claims,” said his lawyer.

Rybolovlev has brought cases against Bouvier in Monaco, Singapore, the US and Switzerland.

“Yves Bouvier has chosen to plead via media, proclaiming an alternate reality and making egregiously erroneous statements about the case,” said Rybolovlev’s lawyers. “Our clients prefer to rely on the judicial system and salute the independence and the quality of the work of the Geneva judiciary. They have full confidence that the prompt demonstration of the criminal responsibility of Yves Bouvier and his accomplices will be made.”

 

Photo of Dmitry Ryboolovlev by Francknataf

 

 

 

Major breakthrough in Esplanade Les Pêcheurs real estate project

The National Council has passed a landmark law that allows the State to benefit more from private development in the Principality, while paving the way for the long-awaited new real estate project at the Esplanade Les Pêcheurs.

The controversy surrounding the Esplanade Les Pêcheurs site, which has been ongoing since September 2014, may finally be at end with Law 1057 passed by a majority of the National Council on Wednesday 27th July. The law decommissions the plot of land belonging to the State, allowing for the development project to begin.

The saga began when the State signed an agreement with SAMEGI, now the Caroli Group, and underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio. It then withdrew its bill to decommission the land a year later over concerns that the real estate project didn’t fit in with the needs for the organisation of the Monaco Grand Prix. After numerous court battles between the State and the promoter over the following years, the Supreme Court decreed in June 2020 that the State pay a sum in principal and interest equivalent today to 155 million euros.

Prince Albert then intervened and instructed his government to find a more amicable solution. Negotiations took place between all the interested parties, namely the State, the organising authorities of the automobile events, the promoter and Franck Goddio. A modified project was put forward, which included a premises for the State and a smaller private building than the one proposed.

But the sale of land in the public domain can only go ahead in law, voted upon by the National Council. On the same day the Prince announced the modified project, the National Council released a statement saying “it would ensure that the final agreement negotiated by the government is balanced and that the economy of the project is respectful of the interests of State.”

General Assembly Wednesday 27th July, photo courtesy National Council of Monaco

“As we have always said since the beginning of this mandate, this National Council will never vote for decommissioning without direct compensation for the housing of Monegasques and without additional areas for the benefit of the State,” said National Council President Stéphane Valeri during Wednesday’s session.

The project will therefore now include a State building of around 3,000sqm to be used for housing Monegasques. Additionally, the State will benefit from the donation of an entire floor of the private building, which is 1,870sqm in size.

In order to pass the law, the National Council also wanted to protect the financial interests of the State by setting a safeguard clause allowing excess profits made by the operation above those forecast to be redirected in part to the public finances.

“When we know that the sale prices of Monegasque real estate are constantly increasing and how high they are, this clause is the guarantee for the State to recover a significant part of the potential excess profits on this operation,” said Valeri.

“This progress marks a historic turning point in the way of apprehending the laws of decommissioning of the public domain for the benefit of a private actor, and therefore of defending the interests of the State and of Monegasques,” concluded the National Council President. “This new method had never been applied before tonight’s vote. It will henceforth be the rule for the future, for the Government as well as for the National Council.”

The real estate project, situated at the end of Port Hercule, will include a museum dedicated to marine archaeology called the Centre of Man and the Sea, premises for the Maritime Police and the port officials, shops on the quay level of the Esplanade, a state building facing Port Hercule with housing and shops, office spaces, a public garden, modular spaces for the Grand Prix, and a lift connecting the area with the gardens located on the upper part of the avenue de la Porte Neuve.

There will also be a 700m2 increase to the exterior space on the Esplanade to accommodate the installation needs of the television compound used during Grand Prix, bringing the total space available to the F1 event to 5,800 m2, which can also be used for other events.

 

By Cassandra Tanti and Stephanie Horsman. Photo of architectural design by Caroli Group. 

 

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