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ITALIAN TALENT — Fire at Mariella’s laundry… Back on her feet thanks to the clients’ solidarity

A wonderful story of solidarity with Mancini Laundry Dolphin as the main character. Based in Marano in Naples province and run by Maria Castellone, the shop caught fire because of a short circuit last June. Not a month passed and the shop re-opened thanks to the support of the entire family and the many inhabitants of the town, grateful for the services offered in the territory that had been lacking it before. Luckily, the generosity demonstrated towards the laundry prevails over the threats of suing for the burnt shirts and garments

 One spark and anything can happen. Including the burning of the work of a lifetime in front of the owner’s very eyes then rising again thanks to unexpected and enormous generosity of the people. A spark is something that, in terms of seconds, is closer to a zero rather than to one. Still, it is just enough to cause disasters and revolutionize people’s existence, undermine values but also bring some unexpected surprises. There are those who have experimented the meaning of that flash of time in their lives and it is always enriching to listen to their stories, treasure them and learn from them to face whatever future we have ahead of us.

As far as telling stories goes, Maria Castellone, called Mariella by everyone, a 44-year old woman from Naples can tell us in detail how a short in the system affected her life, her husband’s life and their four wonderful daughters’ lives. Mariella Castellone is the owner of the Mancini Laundry Dolphin, an artisan dry-cleaning shop that opened twelve years ago in the San Rocco district in Marano, a small town near Naples. On 5 June, in the evening, she was closing the business together with Anna Maria, who is in charge of ironing, happy to go to dinner at a nice restaurant in Naples to celebrate Fabio’s birthday with the family.

“Life surprises you at any moment. It is actually the right moment to say it – says Mariella with her strong and trusting voice –  as we would never have thought we might receive a phone call of this type just while we were making a toast and celebrating but yes, this is how it went…They called us to tell us that our laundry shop was on fire and that the fire brigade had already intervened”. The shock, the confusion, rush, the heartbeat and fear that something irreparable was happening felt like stabbing while we were driving there. “We finally got there – she continues – and we saw the worst possible scenario we could have ever imagined: our laundry shop on fire, the firemen running up and down and people on the streets watching. The world, at that moment, collapsed. It was extremely difficult to understand that all this was happening because of a short circuit of a machine that had been turned off.  The most trivial cause ever “.

It actually seemed to be the worst ending of a film started by the owner of the Mancini Laundry Dolphin twenty years before when she got engaged to Fabio whose family was running a laundry shop in Rione Alto, a district in Naples. The young couple decided to open their own business activity of this type. Eventually, they did. First in the city, then in a nearby town, Marano.  “A real adventure – she explains – because we opened the shop in the outskirts of the town where there was not much around, perhaps a bar and e few restaurants and some shops. Yet, we had been right to open it there as apparently the quarter needed a laundry at that point. The word of mouth worked and soon, we gained numerous clients “.

On the evening of 5 June, many of those clients were there on the street witnessing and taking part in the pain of their trusted dry-cleaner. They tried to comfort her with words and solidarity. “Some of my clients actually cried. I will never forget it – reveals Mariella Castellone – as we can say they cried instead of us because the shock stopped us from tearing. Moreover, we had to focus on the situation immediately; we quickly understood that, thanks to the prompt intervention of the firemen, the walls remained intact but almost all the clients’ garments had burnt, and the machines were all gone”.

What the family Mancini-Castellone saw was an alarming scene but perhaps not completely irreparable. “Sure – Mariella continues smiling – with hindsight, if I had listened to those asking me at that very moment about their shirt worth thirty euro, I would have given up and never re-opened the business. Fortunately, others came around offering help, e.g. Mrs. Amalia who said that she was not planning on getting married again when she found out that her wedding dress, that she had brought in to refresh, was gone “.

The fire at Mancini Laundry triggered the beginning of a comedy where nothing that characterises human nature was missing. The narrow-mindedness of those who decided to sue because a suit had been burnt and gone was happily swept away by the extraordinary generosity of those who practically contributed to the rebirth of “their laundry”. “More than clients, they turned out to be friends, real, awesome friends – Mrs. Castellone comments – and just like the solidarity received from the entire family: my father-in-law, Oreste, 77 years old, came every day to help, uncle Giovanni took care of the restyling and furniture, my nephew Diego dealt with social networks. Let’s not forget about my brother Antimo and his constant support, the crucial presence of two technicians, Geremia and Marco, together with small and big gestures of many people…” “The result of all this – concludes Mariella – is that on 12 July, hardly forty days after the fire, we were all here to celebrate the opening of the shop, that rose like a phoenix from the ashes “.

Today, four months later, the Mancini Laundry Dolphin from Marano is back to delivering perfectly cleaned garments, prestigious cocktail dresses, shoes, washed blankets, cleaned and ironed shirts of grandfathers, sons and grandchildren. Just like it always has for over twelve years, with passion and artisan approach. To the happiness of a family and the entire district.

by Stefano Ferrio




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