12-04-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
He had the aplomb, bearing and elegance of a seasoned waiter.
He had also the attention, kindness and availability of someone who loves the job of putting people at their ease. It is no coincidence that many called him the "maitre" of Malindi.
Gianni Biaggi was one of those Italian faces that it is impossible not to have come across in the last twenty-five years, somewhere in the tourist town with a high density of compatriots.
First of all because, even if only for a short period of time, he has been around almost all the clubs: from Karen Blixen to Bar Bar, from White Elephant to Osteria, from Putipù to Rosada.
He was in the dining room during Melinde's brief season, and how he felt at ease among the golden friezes and silk tablecloths. Always impeccable, always perfumed, often even a little flirtatious.
This was Gianni, with his ready smile and spontaneity, sometimes biting but often self-deprecating, sincere to the point of dispassionately "coming out" even in a country like Kenya that hardly accepts people like him.
For some time he had shared his precarious life with a number of ailments, after a long illness had debilitated him. But with the strength of a lion (or rather, he would have jokingly said 'a lioness') he withstood the elements and found no better place than Malindi to enjoy every moment of existence. A kidney complication following a positive Covid-19 test took him away at just 61 years of age, after the Italian institutions on site were doing everything possible to help him.
Personally, he leaves me with a lot of moving sympathy and a few anecdotes about his vicissitudes in keeping a job and being accepted by everyone in Kenya. Always with polite ironic verve and respect for everyone. Like a true maitre.
A grievous mourning envelops the Italian community in Malindi, he has left us one of the deans of the "Italian colony".
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