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Smiley (Italian) Faces

Jul
25
2006

In New York, I made a pleasant rediscovery of the American smile factor. You smile at people, they sometimes smile back.

You may think that, in contrast, that all of those “sunny” Italians are not big smilers. You’d be right. It’s just not done, not the way it is with strangers in the U.S.

So when I saw a newspaper article the other day, I couldn’t help but smile.

The head of the tourist office of Codogno, a small town here in Lombardy, has instituted a “smile campaign.”

To show that it’s not just lip service, Emilio Gnocchi has had smile-starting posters put up around town with slogans like, “He who never laughs is not a serious person” and “A smile costs little but is worth a lot…Let’s make this investment.”

He told daily Corriere della Sera that, after visiting some stunning tourist spots in Italy, he was unpleasantly surprised by all the long faces. This grin-and-bear-each-other crusade is the follow-up to another one Gnocchi came up with a few years ago, to remind locals to say hello to each other. The “Just Say Hello” drive was enough of a success to warrant a better-living offensive each summer in the village of about 14,000.

What would visitors see in Codogno? A few Renaissance churches, a sanctuary and an old library, but Gnocchi doesn’t just want to emphasize the town’s sights.

“After a quarter of a century at this job, I’m convinced there’s more to it than just organizing exhibits or concerts,” Gnocchi said. “It’s about well-being and creating a good atmosphere.”

Amen.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 12:20 PM | Permalink

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