A restaurateur, Giovanna Pedretti, who faced scrutiny for allegedly posting a fake review to gain publicity for her establishment, has tragically taken her own life amidst a relentless social media backlash.
The right-wing political parties, League and Brothers of Italy (FdI), criticised left-leaning journalists for treating the case as if it were the Watergate scandal or “the scandal of the century.”
Pedretti’s exposure came from Rai3 news channel Tg3, liberal celebrity chef Lorenzo Biagiarelli, and influencer Selvaggia Lucarelli.
League MP Mara Bizzotto expressed shock at the events in Lodi, saying the situation was blown out of proportion, with Tg3 and the Lucarellis treating the alleged fake review as a major scandal. He said, “what happened at Lodi is shocking and makes you think: Tg3 and the Lucarellis treated an alleged fake review as if it were the Watergate scandal.
“I only hope that those who flung so much mud now have the decency to remain silent.”
Isabella Tovaglieri, a League MEP, criticised the lack of common sense in the coverage and urged reflection on its consequences.
Tovaglieri said “common sense went missing in the case of the Lodi restaurateur, and those who unleashed the media lynching should have a good hard think about what they did.”
Giorgio Maria Bergesio, League representative on the parliamentary Rai oversight body, announced plans to file a formal question about Rai’s handling of the story. Bergesio called for a debate on proportionality. He said, “The story of an alleged fake post was treated by Tg3 as if it were the scandal of the century.
“A news desk is free to exercise freedom of the press and cover all stories but we urgently need a debate on proportionality.
“We don’t think that the factor of social interest was so high as to justify the media hounding of the protagonists.
“We voice the hope that Rai will take a stance, also in light of the contracts and compensation on which we intend to shed light shortly”.
Francesco Filini, the Rai commission pointman for FdI, agreed “a public service broadcaster must not engage in media lynching”. He highlighted the severe impact of Pedretti’s ordeal, suggesting that certain Rai programs have become accustomed to such approaches, leading to dire consequences in this case.
The centre-right party Forza Italia (FI) emphasized the need for a more conscientious use of social media to curb hate.
Lucarelli defends her stance
Meanwhile, Lucarelli defended herself, stating that establishing the truth seemed to be perceived as a fault by her critics. She warned about the dangers of spreading false information, citing a previous case where a person faced a torrent of abuse after a fabricated story.
She said that “writing false things is dangerous and can even lead to tragedies”. Lucarelli also cited another case last year in which an alleged “commuting school janitor” was “hit by a shitstorm of abuse after it emerged that her story was false”.
Lucarelli added “no one ever poses the problem that writing things that aren’t true can have serious consequences.
“In practice, we have come to the point that publishing a true story is no longer held to be a journalist’s responsibilty.
It’s worse than Black Mirror”.
In the midst of the controversy, Lucarelli’s partner Biagiarelli took a break from his Rai cooking show.
Family ‘besieged by journalists’
The restaurateur’s daughter, Florina D’Avino, on Monday told milling journalists to leave the area around the establishment at Lodi.
“We are besieged by journalists. Go away. Someone send them away.”
D’Avino also blamed Selvaggia Lucarelli for her mother’s death, saying, “Why don’t you find your next victim?
“Battening down on people is dangerous.
“Thank you dear ‘signora’ for having massacred my mum through the media.”
Pedretti’s friends and family insist she did not have economic problems.
The tragedy unfolded with the discovery of blood traces in her car, leading authorities to suspect that she may have taken her own life by slitting her wrists before drowning in the Lambro River.
What was the alleged fake review about?
A customer apparently leaves a negative review online for a pizzeria complaining they had been “placed to eat next to gays” albeit “polite” ones and also next to “a boy in a wheelchair”. The owner of the Le Vignole pizzeria in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano ( Lodi) politely and firmly replies not to return.
The review (later removed by the dissatisfied customer) and the response were published on the Facebook page of the restaurant. This establishment has for years organised the ‘suspended pizza for a smile’ for the families of disabled children alongside the associations ‘Parents friends of the disabled’ and the group ‘Il maggiolino’.
In the ‘offending’ review, the customer admits “the pizza was excellent and the dessert was excellent”. However, they also complain about neighbouring tables, “They put me to eat next to some gays. I didn’t notice immediately because they were composed, and a boy in a wheelchair who ate with difficulty. I was sorry but I didn’t feel at ease”.
“Dear customer”, replied Giovanna Pedretti, owner of the pizzeria, “we appreciate your commitment to evaluating our service through your review. Despite this I wanted to point out to you that our place is open to everyone and the requirements we ask of our guests is education and respect towards everyone. Your words of contempt towards guests who don’t seem to have bothered you, seem gratuitous and rather unpleasant malice to me.”
“I would also like to underline that your annoyed look towards a boy in a wheelchair did not go unnoticed… Having said that, given this human baseness and poor taste… I believe that our place is not for you.
“We do not select our clients based on sexual orientation, much less disability. I kindly ask you not to come back to us unless you find within yourself the human requirements that were missing in your attitude.”