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Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

Bergamo’s Blunder: A Hotelier’s Hoax

Signboard at the entrance of the municipality also in Bergamasque dialect (Wikipedia Commons)

The tendrils of the Israeli-Palestinian tangle have reached the picturesque streets of Bergamo, Lombardy, where a rather outspoken hotelier in the Upper Town decided to stir the pot, claiming, with all the nonchalance of a tea-drinking Brit, that “the Jewish state should cease to exist.” In a move that would make even the most seasoned diplomat choke on their Earl Grey, he proudly announced he’d “given the boot to any potential Israeli guests.”

But, lo and behold, when the fine folks at Corriere di Bergamo came knocking, he performed a volte-face smoother than a seasoned politician caught with his hand in the biscuit tin. Suddenly, his previously bold assertions melted away like ice in a G&T on a summer’s day. It seems his initial outburst was more akin to a damp squib than a roaring bonfire of convictions.

The brouhaha began on a rather unassuming Thursday, as Paolo Maddaloni, the proprietor of the charmingly named “Le Funi” hotel, decided to offer his two pence on an Instagram post from Il Giornale. Quoting Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani’s assertion that Israel’s annihilation was not on the cards, Maddaloni, in a display of ignorance as towering as the Alps themselves, proclaimed otherwise.

One can almost imagine the collective gasps echoing through the digital ether as another user dared to challenge his misguided musings. Undeterred, Maddaloni doubled down, unleashing a verbal torrent akin to a drunk stand-up comic performing at a political rally. From the assertion that Israel’s birth was a mere scribble by nefarious politicos to the rather blasphemous suggestion that the Jews had a hand in an event roughly 2000 years ago, his statements were as sensational as they were ludicrous.

Yet, just as the clouds gathered on the horizon and the storm threatened to break, Maddaloni’s social media sparring partner decided to raise the stakes, threatening to inform the powers-that-be about his tirade. Suddenly, our hotelier’s bravado vanished faster than a soggy bottom on Bake Off.

In a move reminiscent of a schoolboy caught raiding the marmalade can, Maddaloni swiftly deleted his incendiary comments and issued a mea culpa smoother than a dollop of clotted cream. Suddenly, the fiery rhetoric was replaced with a rather more subdued tone, complete with apologies and explanations that his comments were merely a reaction to the tragic loss of life in the Palestinian territories.

But fear not, dear reader, for all was not lost. In a twist worthy of the finest farce, Maddaloni revealed that he had not, in fact, barred any reservations from our Israeli friends. Oh no, it seems the reality was as flimsy as a Devonshire scone – one was due to grace his establishment that very evening.

Thus, with the drama subsided and the storm clouds dispersed, we are left with a tale as rich and varied as the tapestry of Bergamo itself. Oh, the folly of man, the twists and turns of human nature, and the enduring allure of a good old-fashioned social media spat. Truly, dear reader, ignorance has never been so entertaining.

About the Author
Giuseppe Levi Pezzulli ("Bepi") is a Solicitor specialised in International financial law and a foreign policy scholar. His research interest is economic statecraft. In 2018, he published "An alternative view of Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), which investigates the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. In 2023, "Brave bucks" (Armando Publishing House), which highlights the role of private capital in the industrial policy mix. Formerly an Editor-in-Chief of La Voce Repubblicana; is a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; a pundit for the financial TV channel CNBC; and a Middle East analyst for Longitude magazine. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD).
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