How do I love thee? Ask the butler

Fri Feb 6, 2009 5:32am EST
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By Barbara Cornell

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - This Valentine's Day, forget roses -- get your true love a butler.

The newly formed Butlers' Association of Italy is running a Valentine's special from Saturday to February 15, with 20 Cupid's helpers in dapper morning suits and white gloves.

At 500 euros ($640.5) for 24 hours of personal service, renting of one of these professionals undeniably costs more than a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

But consider that you're paying for someone like Mehdi Ben Hadj Mohamed, 33, whose hospitality pedigree runs from his father's posh hotel in Tunisia to England where he says his uncle is a butler to Queen Elizabeth II.

"I love it when I serve someone and they are pleased and smile," he said, pausing from his work as head butler at the Palazzo Vecchietti, a Florentine luxury hotel in a 15th-century palace.

"In our culture, we say that he who serves the people is himself the lord."

The butlers offer services from caring for kids, pets and gardens to booking a helicopter to an exotic port for a romantic sailboat getaway. They can be chefs, personal shoppers, events planners or directors of the house.

Or they can conjure up last-minute concert tickets and restaurant reservations.   Continued...