Gaspare Morgante, 59, and his wife, Laura Terdossi, 56, are still shocked by the emotion of the phone call: it came, it is true, from the secretariat of the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella. As a result, an official invitation to the owners of the Ubik bookstore to come to Trieste, to the Quirinal Palace, in order to be decorated with the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. “I thought for a few minutes that it was a joke”, says Gaspare Morgante.
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On November 29, the Head of State presented them with this distinction for their “Original initiative of solidarity vis-à-vis those who live in conditions of solitude and isolation”. One year after the start of the “Books on the telephone” operation, the two booksellers humbly savor the glory of this recognition and the great success of his idea across the country. “In December 2020, many Italians spent Christmas alone, due to strict confinement to fight Covid-19. This is why, with the help of our two employees, my wife and I decided to share our passion for books by offering free readings over the phone ”, explains the bookseller.
Many volunteer readers
They first communicated their initiative to the Diocese of Trieste and to the local press. Then social networks took over. “We were inundated with unsolicited applications from volunteer readers, which made it possible to respond to the many requests from isolated people, especially elderly women and young blind people.”, develops Gaspare Morgante. From now on, links have been created beyond the reading between these volunteers and their interlocutors.
For security reasons, each of them has a secret code given by the Ubik bookstore that they exchange when they make their calls. In Trieste, booksellers have made a telephone and books available to readers aloud seven days a week. In the other towns, volunteers, largely made up of retirees with a keen interest in literature, collect books from media libraries or from the shelves of their own library. “People especially like to be read a novel, a history book or poems”, notes Gaspare Morgante, who accumulates letters of thanks for this chain of solidarity.
“Feeling that you are useful to others is one of the greatest joys, he admits. The warmth of a voice that becomes familiar soothes moral and psychological suffering, exacerbated by the health situation. “ It is the magic of speech through books …