The 29-year-old actually arrived on the scene as a racecar driver, a sport he'd been mastering since he was 11 years old. From his time behind the wheel, he won numerous awards including the 2002 Philippine Cadet 85 Class, 2003 Asian Championships, ICA Jr., 2004 Philippine Open Class, 2004 Philippine Rotax Max Jr., 2005 ICA Superkart Series Championship, and 2006 Philippine 125 Open. He was also named Karter of the Year—three times. Although still involved in racing, he eventually made a promise to his mother that he would quit the sport after an accident.
But he had a fallback. His skills and Eurasian looks weren't exempt from the radar of teen magazines and in 2006, the year he broke into show business, he was featured in Candy Magazine amid public clamor from lovestruck teenage girls.
Matteo grew up in Cebu. He attended both Cebu International School and Brent International School before studying at Columbia College in Chicago for two years before returning home due to homesickness.
It's a humble response from the actor who, like his girlfriend, is known for modesty. Matteo has a storied background. His paternal grandfather, Gianni Guidicelli, was born in Venice. He fell in love with the Philippines after visiting in the 1970s. The younger Guidicelli's role in Dolce Amore, which was shot in the City of Love, was a fulfillment of his grandfather's wish for his grandson to star in a project that was in Italian.
In 2016, the Cebu-based Guidicellis opened a restaurant in honor of their "nonno," who had passed away a year earlier. Da Gianni currently has two branches, a trattoria in Cebu and another, more modern version in Alabang. The kitchen is run by Gianni's two helpers Antonia and Jean. Matteo's father, Gianluca serves as its managing director, and the rest of the family chips in on the day-to-day operations. On free days, Matteo himself serves customers.
Matteo is also a Fernan, one of the biggest clans in Cebu, on his mother's side. His mother, Glenna Fernan is the daughter of the late Cebu Provincial Prosecutor Vicente Fernan who, in turn, was the cousin of Marcelo Fernan, the only person in the Philippines to serve as Chief Justice and Senate President. Cebu's Marcelo Fernan Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Philippines, is named after him. Matteo is also the cousin of socialite and designer Mia Arcenas Branellec.
His sister, Giorgia, recently married lawyer Ian Dato, who founded his own law firm in 2013. Ian was formerly a Senior Undersecretary at the Department of Justice and an Undersecretary for Political Affairs (2008 to 2010). Their wedding was attended by the biggest names in Cebu society, including the Lhuilliers and Villaricas. Sarah was Giorgia's maid-of-honor.
The Fernans are also related to the Manigsacas, Ledesmas, and other known important names.
Matteo was recently in the headlines for his secret civil wedding to longtime girlfriend Sarah Geronimo, which was allegedly disrupted by the latter's disapproving mother. According to reports, Sarah's mother was against the six-year relationship and wedding because she preferred a non-showbiz boyfriend for her 31-year-old daughter. It's all very complex.
While they sort out all this mess, you'll find us eating carbonara at Da Gianni.