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Italian restaurant offers free wine for ditching phones

A newly opened restaurant in Verona has offered a bottle of wine to diners who agree to lock away their phones during the meal.

Recently opened Al Condominio restaurant in northern Italian city Verona said it was offering ‘a bottle of good wine’ to diners who temporarily part with their mobile phones in order to ‘dedicate themselves to the pleasure of the table and company’. 

A ‘digital detox’ special offer promises a free bottle of wine in return for allowing staff at the Verona restaurant to lock phones in a drawer.

One bottle will be given to each couple taking part, although the offer changes to one bottle per four people in the case of groups, said the restaurant’s website. 

‘The restaurant offer in Verona is already very broad and valuable, [so] we had to propose an alternative,’ said Al Condominio’s cofounder, Angelo Lella.

‘We then worked on the #DigitalDetox concept to present something new and curious, dedicated to those looking for novel and satisfying experiences on a gastronomic, wine and social level.’

He added, ‘Freeing yourself from technology is a luxury…a luxury because today the true value is time, even more so if spent in the company of a good glass of wine and friends, loved ones or new encounters.’

He told Decanter the concept was proving popular with diners, some of whom had travelled from other parts of Italy to visit.

Al Condominio restaurant, Verona

Photo credit: Courtesy of Al Condominio restaurant.

Al Condominio takes inspiration from the social aspects of ‘condominiums of the past’, where residents knew each other and held communal summer dinners, said Lella, a Veronese entrepreneur who also founded Maia Wine in 2019 and now co-owns the label with Cielo e Terra Spa group.

Dishes on Al Condominio’s menu are named after the sorts of characters that one might find in such a residence, including ‘the gardener’, ‘the ones from the first floor’, and ‘the spy’, the restaurant said.

Some top restaurants have taken a hardline stance on phones in the dining room in the past.

London’s Evening Standard newspaper reported back in 2016 that some leading chefs in London had softened their approach, however, reflecting the impact of social media and an understanding that some diners wished to photograph dishes.

A 2018 study published in the journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that diners were more likely to report feeling distracted if they used a phone during a meal with friends and family. This also dampened their enjoyment of the occasion.

‘This research suggests that despite their ability to connect us to others across the globe, phones may undermine the benefits we derive from interacting with those across the table,’ authors said. 


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