In times like these, a feel-good story is a balm for a downtrodden soul. Seeing someone get a win is like a win for all of us. And in Italy there is no greater win than espresso. So when COVID-19 restrictions eased in Rome and Italians are able to once again visit their beloved coffee bars, the world rejoices with them.
One of the European countries hit first by the coronavirus, Italy has spent much of the pandemic in lockdown, unable to take part in a foundational part of daily life: stopping in a nearby cafe for a quick espresso. During this time, many Italians found themselves dusting off the old reliable Moka Pot for a homemade fix. As reported by Reuters, on Monday two-thirds of the country was declared a “yellow zone,” a decreased risk status that allowed for the easing of lockdown measure, including the reopening of coffee bars.
And not just for takeaway. Table and counter service is allowed in cafes until 6:00pm, before then switching to to-go only until 10:00pm. And it goes without saying that the citizens of Rome are excited to have a little slice of normalcy return.
“We felt dead without bars,” said Rome resident Tiziana Baldo. “It is beautiful to come here and talk to the people behind the bar; they make us feel alive every morning before going to work.”
Others noted a secondary benefit to the end of the lockdown measures: less waste. With the cafes re-opening sit down service, drinks are once again able to be served in ceramic and other reusable vessels as opposed to single-use plastic takeaway cups.
You at this point may be asking yourself, “gosh, when can I feel safe returning to a cafe for an honest to goodness sit down coffee?” If you live in America, you’ve probably got a while. On February 1st, the first day of eased restrictions, Italy had just under 8,000 new COVID-19 cases; America had 140,000. Now, America’s population is about five and a half times that of Italy’s, putting an America-sized-Italy at 44,000 new cases daily, less than a third of the US’s daily count. Not to bring the room down here, but we’ve got a minute before we’re there.
But still, Italy’s slow return to normalcy is something we can all get behind. They were hit hard and have rebounded, so too can we. So brava Italy! I’m happy for you and/or jealous of you, it’s hard to tell right now. Now point me in the direction of your nearest cafe where I can get a light-roasted pour-over.
Top image from Coffee In Rome: The Sprudge Guide by Natalie Kennedy