Le porte stanno iniziando ad aprirsi, grazie a Dio. (The doors are beginning to open, thank God).
My Flight Crew colleague, Daniela, explained very succinctly today that in Italy, “…finalmente abbiamo ricominciato ad uscire, ma con cautela.” “We have finally started to come out again, but with great caution.”
Italy’s viral protection measures are quite different than ours in the US. For example, during the 10-week stay at home period all over Italy, no visits of any type and no outdoor exercise were allowed. Restaurant takeout service was forbidden all over the country. Now that Italy is in Phase 2, takeout service, some visiting, and some outdoor exercise is allowed, but social gatherings are still forbidden, and masks, gloves and social distancing are still mandatory and will remain mandatory for later phases as well. Italian Phase 2 regulations allow visits to “congiunti” (an old term for certain relatives, up to your spouse’s cousins and your cousins’ children). Taken together, these regulations explain why we sometimes see Instagram photos of Ignazio out hiking around alone with Nina, or Gianluca on the beach with doggie Luna but no people, or playing tennis under a mask.
In the spirit of the new Phase 2 conditions, Gianluca was invited to participate in honoring the staff of Abruzzo’s Ospedale di San Liberatore di Apri. Abruzzo in general, and this hospital in specific, have seen a remarkable reduction to the numbers of COVID emergency cases and a high recovery rate, due to their efforts. The hospital staff to be honored included representatives from all levels who have been serving through the crisis, from nurses to emergency room staff to cleaning crew (one of the most high-risk hospital jobs during infection emergencies).
This ceremony shows how much the Il Volo boys have accomplished so young. San Liberatore is the same hospital where La Signora Eleanora Ginoble gave birth to her first son, Gianluca, in 1995. Some of the people Gianluca came there to honor could probably remember when he was born there, not long ago.
San Liberatore, by the way, is the nickname of Saint Eleutherius, one of Abruzzo’s favorite saints and martyrs, from the second century. He’s venerated among Albanian, Greek, and Roman Catholics and Abruzzese Italians. There’s a famous basilica built and named in his honor that is also nearby in Abruzzo, called San Liberatore a Maiella.
Abruzzo seems to produce men who achieve great fame very early. By one tradition, Eleutherius/San Liberatore became a bishop when he was only 20 years old. We Sicilians insist he was bishop of Messina, Sicily so we can lay claim to him, too. We can’t lay claim to the other Abruzzesi heroes (like Dean Martin and Gianluca Ginoble, to name a few); but we Sicilians have enough notables of our own. (OK, that was for the fans of Piero and Ignazio).
On to the Television Clip.
Everyone has their own style and preferences – apparently even in medical protective equipment. I once heard Gianluca as a teenager being asked in an interview about his taste in colors. His reply? “I like it black and white.” That probably explains his house interior decor, his white car, and a lot of his clothes. So of course, when he appears in public with a re-usable personal mask for this event, it’s black. Somehow you could tell who was under the mask, even if he wasn’t surrounded by TV cameras and crew shouting his name. It must be the hair.
In the clip I saw, the interviewers didn’t identify themselves before starting their cameras rolling, so I will refer to them as “Interviewer 1 or 2.”
Interviewer 1, after asking Gian how is father is: We were just saying that in some cases, stars don’t get behind this kind of thing, but that isn’t the case [with you].
Gianluca: You know that I am really proud of being Abruzzese, but more importantly, we should all be proud of the work that some of these superheroes are doing – doctors, nurses, medical staff who are saving lives. When there was an opportunity to honor them, I couldn’t miss it. I’m really happy to be here.
Interviewer 1: So a rose for each of these “signore in gamba” (a lovely Italian idiom for “great ladies and gentlemen,” referring to the health workers who are to be honored shortly.)
Gian: A thousand roses, but at the moment I don’t have any on hand, so spiritual roses, in a manner of speaking. This makes me feel I’m a little more of a “Rosetano,” too. (People from Roseto d’Abruzzo, like Gianluca’s family, call each other “Rosetanos”).
Interviewer 1: So, you’re also waiting for all this to end?
Gian: We’re going through a difficult period. We’re anxious, waiting for the end of this tough time. For the moment, I want to act really responsibly. The message I want to send to people my age, and those even younger, is that they also should act responsibly, to grasp the seriousness of this situation, above all for the safety of our loved ones. This small break in the isolation doesn’t mean it’s over. We need to remain cautious for ourselves, but more importantly for the health of our elders. I very rarely see my Grandfather, Ernesto, the love of my life, but unfortunately at this time we have to continue to be careful, especially for the health of our loved ones.
Interviewer 2: Gianluca, is it true that you were born in this same hospital?
Gian: I was born in this hospital the 11th of February 1995.
Interviewer 2: This hospital has waged such a great battle against this virus.
Gian: Something for Abruzzo to be proud of.
Interviewer 2: A very emotional moment, true.
Gian: [These are] powerful and compassionate people. We Abruzzesi are strong. I’m really proud of these heroes who are continually saving lives.
Interviewer 2: What do you want to say to these health workers of our hospital who have labored with courage, with a sense of duty, to confront this Coronavirus to bring it to an end?
Gian: A gigantic thank you, because without them the situation would really have been much more dangerous. They’re already dear to each person and family whose lives they have already saved, and they’re still at it.
(At this point, a technician attaches a collar mike to Gianluca, while the second interviewer introduces the ceremony to come.)
Interviewer 2: Right now, we are in front of the hospital of Apri, San Liberatore di Apri. As we were discussing, there are representatives here from the medical staff: doctors, nurses, other medical workers, and others who run the business of a hospital. The hospital is re-opening in a sense, after the COVID emergency, offering services for the many other more common illnesses and medical needs we’re familiar with. This means that the viral emergency is starting to come to an end, and we of course are really pleased. This is a lovely moment to linger over, along with the world-famous young artist and lyric singer, Gianluca Ginoble, who has accepted an invitation and came here to give honor and thanks to all the personnel who have labored with great courage and determination during these weeks and months of serious emergency. It will be Gianluca, who will thank each of them. He’s being interviewed at this moment by my colleagues from RAI and other stations. We are recognizing together this moment that marks the end, we hope, of the emergency and the hospital’s return to less stressful and more normal hospital routine. There are also medical experts present who have followed all the stages of this emergency and are here just to celebrate this moment. We are proud of Gianluca Ginoble who recalled for us that he was born in this hospital and remains very attached, a son of this land, and he himself is proud of this community who courageously faced down this very difficult and tough challenge.
Gian (to another interviewer in the near background): This is one truly positive thing that has come out of this quarantine – living with your family in ways we’ve never done before.
The basket of eight roses for the ceremony is brought to him and he and the film crew exchange instructions for how to do the presentation safely. He gives out the roses while thanking them and making jokes about air hugs (“un abbracio al volo”) and the interviewer jokes about air kisses. Some of the representatives receiving a rose tell him they will be sharing the rose with their teammates and co-workers inside. Then they assemble to take “qualche bella riprese” (some nice shots), which are done with proper social distancing of course (see the pictures).
It almost broke my heart to watch what an Italian group photo looks like now – no hugging or Italian-style draping all over each other, no cheek-to-cheek selfies. You can see a small line of people two meters apart, all covered in masks, standing with gloved or ungloved hands at their sides or their arms crossed. This is definitely NOT how Il Volo, or any Italians, normally behave. And with those masks, how can you even tell if they are smiling? Rabbi Aiello of Calabria, Italy, way south of Abruzzo, said this week that now we all have to learn and remember to smile with our eyes. She demonstrated behind a really cool red, white and green Italian flag mask. (I want one).
On the other hand, it’s warming to note how close the Abruzzese locals in the film clip are to one another (obviously not physically). None of the TV crew needed to introduce themselves to Gianluca, since they all knew each other. At least one of the hospital staff, and one of the TV crew, wanted Gianluca to send their greetings to his dad, Ercole (“Salute a Papa”).
I’m personally fond of Mr. Ginoble, Sr., myself. I really like his funny postings contemplating random things like the speed of light being faster the speed of sound. (That explains why some people seem intelligent when you first see them, until they eventually open their mouth and you hear what stupidity comes out…) But I was really touched by one of the most poignant images Mr. Ginoble posted: a cartoon of DC and Marvel superheroes all bowing to the real superheroes, front line medical workers in masks and scrubs walking down a hospital hallway (see the picture below).
Anche questo deve passare. This too, shall pass. We all share in extreme gratefulness for all the front-line health worker heroes in Europe and at home, who are staying on the job at risk of their own lives, to protect ours. Una grazie gigante. An enormous thank you!
Poscritto (Post Script): As we were preparing this article, Gianluca’s dad, Ercole posted a Facebook clip of Gianluca’s appeal for support for the Italian Red Cross of Roseto’s efforts against COVID-19. The Ginobles are Rosetone to the core, and as a whole family are very involved in Roseto, the Abruzzo region, and its needs. The Red Cross focus in Roseto is to provide protective gear to workers and the needy, and to teach them how to use the equipment properly. Other Red Cross branches in Italy and the US are making a push to collect blood from recovered COVID patients for blood antibodies to aid in treatment. (My elderly friend recently survived COVID, even with her pulmonary hypertension, thanks to one of these blood antibody treatments, and a whole lot of prayer.) That is such great news, Jo Ann! Jana…
I’ve translated Gianluca’s appeal below. The ad shows where to support the Italian Red Cross through the local Red Cross Committee of Roseto. You can also go to www.redcross.org in the US.
From Gianluca: https://www.facebook.com/CRI.Roseto/videos/258308015537040/
“Hello to everyone. I invite you at this time of great difficulty to support the Italian Red Cross Committee of Roseto. The funds are being used to provide personnel protective equipment for all the volunteers engaged in the fight against the Coronavirus, who in addition to helping our community are now helping the people most affected by the virus. I just wanted to let you know how much we all need your support. Thank you.”
Il Volo also performed in the on-line special “Fatto in Casa” (Made at Home) for Dolce & Gabbana’s fundraiser to support virology research. B&B are funding Humanitas University’s work to understand the immune response to SARS-COV-2 and to accelerate a vaccine. You can support them at www.dolcegabbana.forfunding.it