Historic ‘literary’ cafe in heart of Naples, a Covid casualty

 NAPLES – The historic Caffè Gambrinus coffeehouse that can count among its patrons the Irish writer Oscar Wilde and famed author Ernest Hemingway, has become the latest casualty of Covid, announcing it was closing its doors.

 The southern Italian region of Campania, which includes Naples, has been declared a yellow zone, allowing its bars and restaurants to remain open until 6 p.m., but co-owner Massimiliano Rosati said the surge in COVID-19 cases has kept customers away.

 “With the increase in infections, people do not enter and sit at tables, despite the same price at the counter as at the table,” Rosati said.

 Another owner, Antonio Sergio, said they couldn’t continue “with the restrictions laid out.”

 “I have exhausted all possibilities,” Sergio said.

 For the first time in the cafe’s long history, 15 employees have been laid off and there are another 30 to pay.

 “We can’t do it. We have decided to close regardless of national and regional measures,” Sergio said. “The hope is to reopen as soon as possible, when we can return to work at the usual pace.”

 A member of cultural association Historical Places in Italy, Caffè Gambrinus has, over the years, become a literary ‘salon’ and art gallery.

 Since its opening in 1860, the cafe has served visiting heads of state and the likes of philosopher Benedetto Croce, Italian poet D’Annunzio and Italian-French author Filippo Tomasso Marinetti, whose works are on display.