Friday 9 December 2022

When in Rome, ‘Forbidden to talk about the coronavirus’

Clients of a bar & cafe in Rome have welcomed the owner suggesting to patrons to not talk about the coronavirus. "The idea is to give people a break from coronavirus," Cristina Mattioli .

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QWORLD – The message is clear and posted for everyone to see: “It is forbidden to talk about the coronavirus.”

A photo taken on November 19, 2020 at the ‘Feeling Bar’ in the outskirts of Rome shows bar owner Cristina Mattioli posing by a sign reading “It is forbidden to talk about the coronavirus” and another suggesting to debate about news, celebrities, history or general culture instead, during the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. – In this small bar near Rome, the owner has decided to suggest customers to stop talking about the omnipresent and anxiety-producing subject of coronavirus. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

In a small bar and cafeteria in Rome, the owner decided to offer “serenity” to her patrons by preventing them from addressing this omnipresent and distressing topic.

“We have been talking about the same for months, so we have chosen to calm the atmosphere and face the situation with a smile and a bit of serenity and lightness,” explained Cristina Mattioli, the manager of Feeling, who acted on the initiative after her clients suggested it.

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Italy, the first European country to be hit by the coronavirus, has registered more than 1.3 million infected since the beginning of the pandemic in March and almost 48,000 deaths.

“Receiving with a smile and lightness seemed like a good idea to face this situation,” says Cristina, a 35-year-old dynamic and sporty woman.

“But we do not deny the current situation, we are not deniers, it is simply a way to find a bit of serenity,” she emphasizes.

To help her clients, Cristina installed another poster with suggestions: “Ideas for topics of conversation: news, lives of famous people, history, general knowledge.”

Weariness

Bruna Piazza, a regular customer of the bar where lottery tickets are also sold, is delighted with the initiative: “We are tired of talking about covid, wherever we go, we only talk about it,” she laments, while placing her wallet in her bag.

“I want to talk about everything except that, I prefer to talk about the weather, celebrities…,” says the 58-year-old woman, readjusting her mask.

Cristina Mattioli. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP
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Cristina, who works among the few tables installed both indoors and outdoors, confirms that “her customers have reacted positively” to the ban.

“At first they laughed. ‘We like it, at least we forget a little about the situation we are experiencing’, they often say,” says the owner with satisfaction.

In the cafeteria area, which should close like everyone else at 6 pm by order of the government as a measure to stop the contagion, Maurizio Ciocari, 63, a hairdresser, applauds Cristina’s idea while tasting cakes and sandwiches.

“It is a wise initiative, even indispensable,” he assures.

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“We must stop talking about the problem, we must solve it,” recommends the hairdresser, with glasses and long hair, among workers affected by the pandemic due to the reduction in the number of clients.

We have been talking about the same for months, so we have chosen to calm the atmosphere and face the situation with a smile and a bit of serenity and lightness Cristina Mattioli, manager of Feeling

“When it’s too much, it’s too much,” she says, proposing a series of talking points.

“Here we talk about everything, I love music, I am a rock lover”, she assures applying the suggestion.

“Many customers have found this initiative nice and fun, I thought it smart,” says Maurizio, who also admires the “serene atmosphere” that reigns in his favorite bar, with its purple walls and wooden tea boxes hanging on the wall.

What if a customer accidentally mentions the prohibited topic?

Cristina opted for a soft method: “There are no sanctions, but I remind clients that we cannot talk about it here, or make predictions about whether we are going to be confined or not, for example.”

“At first I had to call some of them to order. Some succeed (to avoid the issue), others can be seen to be struggling to comply with the rule,” she acknowledges with a smile.

Moved by curiosity, some clients have come to have coffee and at the end “they congratulate us on our initiative”, says Cristina, who has inspired other colleagues: “The owner of a cafeteria in Trentino (northeast Italy) also exhibits the same posters, but she called me to ask permission ”, she confesses with pride.

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