The Guardian view on Italy’s cappuccino moment: now for the long haul

Posted by on May 18, 2020 2:29 pm
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Categories: Global Stories

The reopening of the country’s restaurants and bars is an uplifting moment. But the economic challenges facing the EU’s most indebted state are frightening

The famous Canova cafe, in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, was once Federico Fellini’s preferred spot for a morning coffee. On Monday the Canova was in the spotlight again as it reopened its doors, in glorious sunshine, after two and a half months of lockdown. “It’s a beautiful, exciting day,” said Valentino Casanova, one of the cafe’s barmen, whose words were reported around the world.

The reopening this week of Italy’s restaurants and bars – albeit with tight restrictions in place – is undoubtedly an uplifting moment. Italy alerted the rest of Europe to the gravity of the Covid-19 pandemic; the return of its osterie and trattorie feels like a triumph of civilised pleasures over the annihilating bleakness of the virus. But no one in Italy is hailing a restoration of la dolce vita, as shutters are raised and tables are laid out in piazzas once more. In places such as Canova, seating capacity will have to be reduced by at least 40% for the foreseeable future. Running at around half capacity, with extra safety measures to pay for, many are likely to go the wall.

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