Rome embraces hug culture as pandemic sparks need for human contact

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COVID containment has triggered a new type of activity in Italy: hug shops!

They emerged after closures triggered by a pandemic showed that physical contact can never be taken for granted.

Professional and paid hugs now offer their services, such as at Cuddle Place in the center of the Italian capital Rome.

“The pandemic has allowed us to understand what really matters in life, whether it’s being taken by the hand or just a pat on the shoulder at the right time,” Laura Nardini told Euronews , the founder of Cuddle Place.

“Some of these gestures don’t come naturally anymore. Being able to find a place or someone that allows you to find peace of mind, is such an added value in our lives … That’s why the demand has increased”, she added. .

The sessions last from half an hour to an hour and the cost of the first 30 minutes is around € 60.

Walter Tabbì is a regular customer of Cuddle Place. He started coming here from the start of the pandemic.

He told Euronews that the practice is not just about relaxation and that “the benefits are long term”.

“Being in a situation where you have nothing to do except listen to yourself and being present is very helpful when it comes to focusing and setting goals,” Tabbì said.

But given that the toughest national lockdowns have disappeared almost everywhere and life is almost back to normal, Euronews asked Sebastiano Maffettone, professor of political philosophy at Luiss University in Rome, why people still want to be cuddled.

It seems that for many, the problem just wanted to be recognized.

“The need for affection was already there. The pandemic made it an acute problem because people had to isolate themselves and today it has become chronic,” Maffettone noted.

Italy was the first western country to be affected by the virus and the first to experiment with this type of trade.

“No one would have ever thought that this type of company would exist in Italy. But we were the first to face the emergency, and this certainly pushed Italians to react and find solutions before the others”, said the professor.

Anxiety and depressive disorders are set to increase in the post-pandemic era, and this type of business is a reminder that containing the spread of the virus to get our lives back on track has had a significant impact on society and human relationships.

Watch the full video report in the player above.


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