Last Tuesday police in Rome were called to a block of flats in the Appio area of the city after someone reported hearing crying and shouting.
Four officers attended the scene and found 84-year-old Jole and her 94-year-old husband Michele in their small flat. The elderly couple hadn't committed a crime. Nor had burglars attempted to break in.
Jole and Michele had started to cry while watching television. The former had asked her husband why there was so much hate in the news that day and Jole had cried so loudly that someone in the building called the police.
The elderly couple, who have been married for nearly 70 years, felt lonely. It had been ages since someone had visited them, they told the officers.
On the kitchen table there were only some old grapes, and few signs of a recent proper meal. So as police waited for an ambulance to check in on the couple, one officer prepared a plate of pasta for Jole and Michele – a simple dish, spaghetti with butter and parmesan – while the other three officers sat down with the couple for a chat.
Rome police, who shared the story on their Facebook page, said the couple told the officers of a life spent together, but also of how their loneliness was, at times, so suffocating with only a television to keep them company.
The police said that once they were in the flat they realised there was no crime to report, or forms to fill in, but a much harder task: to reassure a couple who needed help and some warmth.
Alberto Nardelli is Europe editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alberto Nardelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.