LAST weekend, I was over in Northern Ireland at the John O’Connor Writing Festival in Armagh. It was a wonderful few days of fiction, poetry and music, and lovely to enjoy a festival where I wasn’t involved in organising it.

Getting a lift to catch my flight back with Janine, one of the festival team, we found ourselves in Belfast city centre following a traffic diversion. Janine ended up giving me a guided tour of the sights on our way through, one of which was the Europa Hotel – ‘the most bombed hotel in Europe’, Janine said, with a strange sort of pride.

Janine went on to explain how tourism in the province was thriving.

Some visited to see the settings of the TV show Game of Thrones. Others, meanwhile, came specifically to see the sights of the Troubles: mural bus tours did particularly good business.

As conversation turned to Salisbury, Janine said how it made a change for somewhere else to be in the news for once.

I was reminded of our conversation when I went to Zizzi on Monday for the official reopening of the restaurant. Zizzi had invited a selection of various people involved in helping Salisbury since the Skripal poisonings, from police to community leaders, businesspeople to hangers-on such as myself. It was a strange invite to receive: being one of the first people back through the door felt a bit like being John Selwyn Gummer’s daughter, except with pizza.

But the evening itself was an interesting one.

I found myself on a table with several members of the police who’d been involved heavily in the case. Listening to them talk about what they’d been through, they’d more than earned their supper. The speeches, from both Zizzi staff and local dignitaries was very much about moving forwards together – Zizzi loves Salisbury, said one speaker: Salisbury loves Zizzi said another.

It would have been easy, following the attack, for Zizzi to shut up shop and up sticks.

It’s not an easy time for restaurant chains: Byron, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Carluccio’s and Jamie’s Italian are just some of those who have entered administration or credit agreements this year.

Zizzi is one of many brands created by the same Kaye family: its original founders now own Wildwood; their cousin, meanwhile, set up Prezzo.

In terms of competing restaurants in Salisbury, Zizzi faces strong – and familiar – competition.

But to give them their due, the owners have stuck with the city and thoroughly refurbished the restaurant.

It’ll be interesting to see whether its unwanted notoriety will help pull people in or push them away.

But if the most bombed hotel in Europe can do a roaring trade, then maybe it will succeed.