Masseria Moroseta, a bed and breakfast based in Puglia, Italy, was accused of posting racist and Sinophobic messages about Chinese wet markets on Instagram.
Featured and promoted on Elle Decor, Perfect Hideaway, and allegedly Vogue Living, Suitcase Magazine, and countless publications, travel agencies, and photographers; the property holds a fairly reputable and large following on Instagram.
Former follower, Jen Choi, who appears to be an avid world traveler and food enthusiast from her Instagram, documented the entire exchange she had between the business owner and manager. She posted it to her Instagram highlight titled, “BAN Moroseta.”
On April 22, Choi told NextShark that the business posted a story saying “Stop Chinese Wet Markets” in red letters. The business allegedly hadn’t posted Sinophobic remarks before.
Choi’s intent was to point out the misinformation associated with wet markets and potential ramifications of hate speech and racism toward Asians due to COVID-19. She reached out in a private message to the account to do so.
“In these times, wet markets may conjure up images of slain kanagaroos [sic] and bloody bats to some,” her thread began. “But to many, wet markets are simply places where meat, seafood, and fresh produce is sold.”
The CNN article she linked, shattered the notion that a wet market automatically meant illegal wildlife trading. A wet market simply meant a location where fresh produce can be obtained. In the video, CNN interviewed the Director of Conservation for the World Wildlife Fund in Hong Kong, Dr. David Olson, who acknowledged the rise in petitions to call for the end of wet markets due to fears brought about by COVID-19. Such as the one Masseria Moroseta posted on their Facebook page on April 6, claiming these markets are a cesspool and breeding grounds for disease.
However, Dr. Olson also noted that the problem lies in the illegal trade and not in wet markets as shown in the video.
Wet markets are often under “mandated cleaning regulations, regular inspections and [have] loyal customers who return again and again,” the reporter added.
Choi noted that she does “not support the sale and butchering of exotic animals,” yet, Masseria Moroseta (which later was claimed to have been its property owner, Carlo Lanzini, responding) replied on April 23 asking her to unfollow the page and sent “several gross and sensationalistic photos of wildlife trafficking.”
“Chinese with their stupid beliefs have infected the world!” Masseria Moroseta said.
“As a business owner, Carlo has a responsibility to own and acknowledge that what he said was wrong and racist instead of just saying ‘he didn’t mean it,'” Choi later wrote. “The latter is a response I expect from a six year old. Carlo is a grown man.”
As a business that “depends entirely on tourism,” she found it shocking that they felt comfortable with posting these beliefs.
“This is the same business that proudly posts they put kimchi in their crackers to show how cultured and hip they are,” she wrote.
A week later, on April 30, the Italian bed and breakfast allegedly blocked her. Several of Choi’s followers informed her that within the hour, Masseria Moroseta also allegedly “posted a new story of a video of a raccoon in a cage that says wuhan china.”
Instagram user Emiliana Sucre also slammed the remarks as being racist, where the business defended their disdain towards the wet markets and China. Fashion blogger Helen Yu Kuo has also followed suit with an Instagram highlight titled after Choi’s, documenting Masseria Moroseta’s past replies.
By May 3, Alessio Manca, the manager of Masseria Moroseta wrote back and expressed that it was a mistake and that Carlos wrongly expressed his thoughts, as they are all animal lovers.
“So, I kindly ask you if we can stop this ‘fight’ here with our [sic] sincerely apologize from all Moroseta Team as none of us is against any race or culture,” he said.
Choi wrote five lengthy messages back condemning the situation and Lanzini’s responses. She had three main points she wanted Masseria Moroseta to acknowledge: (1) a public apology from Masseria Moroseta as a business, (2) for the apology to recognize what was posted and said to Choi was “harassing and racist,” (3) that the posts bolster rhetoric of “hate crimes and violence against Asians.”
As of this writing, Lanzini posted an apology on the reactivated Masseria Moroseta Instagram Story.
Feature Image via @masseriamoroseta