The myth of Gigi Rizzi and Les Italiens 

Discover the legendary life of Gigi Rizzi. King of the nights in Saint Tropez conquered the heart of Brigitte Bardot, the most desired woman in the world.

GIOVANNA LIGGI
Contributor

gigi rizzi

In the mid-sixties, a group of charming young men made their way into the nightlife of the French Riviera, they were Les Italiens led by Gigi Rizzi.

Their conquest ground was the Byblos, the most fashionable disco in Saint-Tropez. Tables were always booked, linen shirts unbuttoned and flashy necklaces in full view. The style was unmistakable. In place of vintage watches and always holding a glass of champagne and a canapé of top quality caviar. Among them certainly stands out a face: Gigi Rizzi.

Gigi Rizzi was the third born of four brothers, his family had an important brick industry near Piacenza. Gigi was a promising actor and entrepreneur, but above all a lover of the good life and women. Born in Piacenza, he soon moved to Nervi, a well-known neighborhood in Genoa.

However, we can say that his real home was Saint-Tropez, to which he owes his great success. It was in Saint Tropez that the myth of Les Italiens was born: gallant and extremely charming men, capable of conquering female hearts and organizing fantastic parties until dawn.

They were used to conquer the beautiful girls of the French Riviera with exclusive parties, dinners in the best restaurants of the area and extravagant outfits.

To Gigi Rizzi we also owe the first Italian disco, the legendary "Number One". The club was inspired by the radiant and festive atmosphere of the French Riviera, the scene of Gigi's conquests. Number One quickly achieved success, conquering the lovers of the good life in Milan, already at the time the Italian capital of fashion and entertainment.

Number One was famous for frills, music until 8 am and wild dancing barefoot on the tables of the disco. The Number One also opened in Rome near Via Veneto, one of the most prestigious streets of the capital. 

Unfortunately, this magical place was short-lived: only three years after its opening in Milan, a famous drug scandal broke out: the police discovered cocaine in the bathrooms of the disco and the club was forced to close its doors forever.

gigi rizzi and les italiens

Gigi Rizzi was the 'Italian playboy': he was really called like that by everyone: by his friends, by the press and by his women. Everyone around him recognized his irresistible charm, a characteristic that made him for at least a decade the true face of fashion and Italian life.

His aura of invincibility was also increased by his total lack of interest in politics, which in the '60s in Italy was at the center of fierce conflict and strife. At that time, few were allowed not to take sides openly.

One of the few was Gigi himself, who, despite the harsh and toxic climate of those years, always managed to express all his love for a luxurious, non-conformist and free life. His independent  aspect and his way of living life as it comes, helped to make his figure even more legendary.

But what really made Gigi Rizzi the myth we still talk about today? Certainly his famous flirtation with the icon woman of his time, Brigitte Bardot, was decisive. The most loved and desired woman in the world fell in love with the prince of Les Italiens. Brigitte was unattainable, capricious, mysterious and sensual: her beauty remained unique even in the world of cinema.

Who was it that made the first move? Despite her playboy fame, it seems that this time it was Brigitte Bardot herself who made the first move. During a party in Saint Tropez she gave a note to Gigi Rizzi, asking him to go water skiing together the next day. She then declared that she was fascinated by his beautiful face, his playful soul and fun spirit.

For months the Italian newspapers talked of nothing else: Italy had won its match against France. A goal as if it were the final of the World Cup, a boost to the ego of all Italians, a real national revenge. If 1968 was for Italy the year of the student struggles, for Gigi Rizzi it was the year that changed his life.

gigi rizzi and brigitte bardot

The dating lasted only three months, but the relationship never really ended. In fact, after several years, during Brigitte's 70th birthday, Gigi Rizzi decided to write her a letter that read as follows:

"Dear Brigitte, I am Gigi and I am writing to you from another world, another city and another life. If I look back I see the nights of Saint-Tropez, the confusion of the Esquinade, the magical and endless nights between the Escale and the Papagayo, and that night when we saw each other for the first time. Happy birthday, happy birthday. I still remember where you live, because I was there a long time ago, too, when we were full of joy, we kids with a big dream."

For Gigi, the liason with Brigitte was not a single adventure, but a true great love, which lasted perhaps too little. In his letter true feelings emerge, remained unchanged even after 40 years.

Gigi always considered himself a true sinner who tried to fill his life with excesses and strong emotions, even in his last melancholic years: a lot of lust, but also many vices, mistakes and drugs. As for his famous style, Gigi Rizzi was synonymous with an open linen shirt with three buttons strictly undone.

He also loved elegant, dark socks with raised stitches and leather loafers. On a woman he adored a slightly retro style: fishnet stockings, garters and elegant and sensual lace panties.

Among the great extravagant choices of his life was the idea of leaving out of the blue. In the mid-70s she decided to abandon the lights of Saint-Tropez for a new and more morose life in Argentina.

He abandoned parties and worldliness for South America, where he decided to buy a farm. However, after twenty years the call of his homeland was too great. So great that in 2004 he decided to return back to Italy. This time with his wonderful Argentine wife and his two beautiful children. Friendly, lover of life and company, interesting and gentlemanly.

Energetic and full of life man: Gigi Rizzi will forever be the Italian playboy, the prince of Les Italiens that marked the 60's.

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