When Italian ex-footballer Francesco Totti and TV presenter Ilary Blasi married in a magical ceremony in an ancient Roman basilica 17 years ago, it looked like a match made in heaven.
But three children and almost two decades later, the fairytale has been shattered as the couple have separated and become embroiled in a bitter divorce battle.
Since announcing their split in July, which seemed amicable at first, things quickly turned ugly after Francesco alleged that his wife had been unfaithful, causing the marriage to break up.
Several twists and turns have followed as the allegations are thrown around – with the former AS Roma striker most recently claiming he’s been holding Ilary’s designer bags hostage after accusing her of “running off” with her Rolex watches.
Former AS Roma striker Francesco Totti, 46, and TV presenter Ilary Blasi, 45, married in 2005 in an ancient Roman basilica in a wedding broadcast to the nation
During their 17-year marriage, Italy’s ‘Posh and Becks’ seemed to have the perfect family (Pictured: Ilary and daughters Chanel and Isabel hug Francesco after his last professional football match in 2017)
Since the split, Ilary (pictured this week) has been tight-lipped and has not responded to her husband’s claims that she cheated on him and ‘ran off’ with his Rolexes
Football legend Francesco Totti, 46, first met Ilary Blasi, 41, in 2002 and married three years later in a ceremony in a Roman basilica. Fans were so eager to catch a glimpse of the star-studded party celebrating the union of the country’s ‘golden couple’ that it was broadcast on national television.
Over the years, the couple had three children, Cristian, Chanel and Isabel, with the couple appearing to be the perfect family.
The pair were also pictured enjoying several lavish skiing and yachting holidays – and looked like they were living the dream.
Football fans were heartened to see how Ilary and the kids came out to watch their father’s last professional game for AS Roma in 2017 before he retired from the game.
At the end of the match, Ilary, Christian, Chanel and Isabel joined Francesco on the pitch and hugged him as he emotionally applauded the fans in the stadium.
Francesco’s romance with trained florist Noemi Bocchi (pictured), 34, has been confirmed as he credited her with helping him deal with poor mental health
During their 17-year marriage, the couple had three children: Cristian, Chanel and Isabel (pictured with their father in 2017 after his last professional fight)
And just last September, Ilary posted a photo on Instagram of the couple’s trip to Disneyland Paris with their youngest daughter.
The parents smiled for the camera while wearing Covid face masks as they held their daughter up on the railing as she beamed in Minnie Mouse ears.
Ilary wrote: ‘Fantasy has no age and dreams are forever.’
But according to Francesco, this happy family picture was not quite what it seemed – and he claimed in an interview last month that his wife did not support him during the period of depression that followed his retirement.
In the interview with Italian publication Marcaadmitted Francesco that he struggled to cope without being on the pitch before losing his father to Covid in October 2020. During these challenging times, he feels his wife was not there to comfort him.
He said: ‘I’ve been through a difficult period, first because I stopped playing and then my dad died because of Covid.
Last September, around the same time Francesco claims he heard rumors his wife was cheating, she posted a photo on Instagram of the pair looking closer than ever on a trip to Disneyland Paris with Isabel
During their 17-year marriage, the couple were spotted on several lavish vacations, including ski trips with friends
‘I also had a strong Covid (illness) for 15 days. But my wife, when I needed her the most, was not there.’
In the same interview, he addressed rumors that he had cheated on Ilary and caused the break-up – instead, he claimed he was the one who had been cheated on and accused Ilary of having an affair last year.
‘It is not true that I was the first to betray. I said I wouldn’t talk and I didn’t, but I’ve read too many scams in recent weeks. Some have even made my children suffer, he said.
The former AS Roma captain added that around the time he posed for Disneyland photos in September 2021, he had also heard rumors that Ilary had had ‘more than one’ affair before checking her phone and seeing what he considered to be ‘proof’. of cheating.
Ilary has not dealt with the adultery accusations, but according to Corriere della Serashe is said to have told friends: ‘I discovered things that could destroy about fifty families’, indicating that she has her own side of the story to tell when she feels the time is right.
Francesco claimed that after his discovery he slipped back into depression – which he has managed to work through with his glamorous new girlfriend, Noemi Bocchi.
Francesco’s romance with the 34-year-old, who is a trained florist, was confirmed earlier this month.
While Ilary has remained tight-lipped about the row, she is said to be owed £32,000 in maintenance by Francesco, and many fans believe the divorce settlement will end in a court case – with Ilary sharing her side of the story.
In recent days, the row has escalated into accusations of theft, with Francesco accusing Ilary of ‘running off’ with her Rolexes – and has vowed to keep her expensive items under lock and key until the watches are returned.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera, Francesco said: ‘What should I do? I hid the bags in the hope of change.’
The times reported that Francesco also has £3,500 worth of his wife’s designer shoes in his possession.
He also accused Ilary’s father of helping his daughter squirrel away the clocks.
Although Ilary has not directly responded to these allegations, she posted a video on her Instagram story of herself outside a Rolex store, in an apparent reference to what Francesco had accused her of.
As the divorce grows increasingly bitter, fans across Italy have been left reeling from what was once one of the country’s greatest love stories.
One commentator wrote in La Stampa: ‘We were sure they were different, almost Disney-esque, that he was good and she was lovely.’