Lockdown Italian style

Ponte Vecchio

Foto credit: Francesco Spighi www.francescospighi.com

Military take bodies out of the city

Foto credit: L’Adige.it

Almost two weeks into Lockdown in Italy for the terrible corona virus  and more weeks to go. At the moment lockdown was due to end on the 3rd April but the situation is still critical, numbers continue to rise and it is likely for weeks more.  Deaths are now more than China and the military have been called in to set up temporary hospitals at Milan Fair and here in Florence, and control the streets in some areas. A grim scene of military trucks taking away bodies as there was no more room in the cemetery at Bergamo for them to be cremated has shocked us all.

So what else can I write about? For those of you living in a country fortunate enough not to have critical numbers may never experience a lockdown so I thought I could explain what it means…at least for us in Italy.

Lockdown means home isolation, a type of quarantine with permission to go out only for essentials, emergencies and/or work, for those still working.The only shops open are deli’s, supermarkets, pharmacies, parapharmacies, tobacco shops (also where bills are paid, mobiles recharged postal service and lottery tickets) and some hardware shops. Work environments can operate respecting the hygiene precautions – distance between employees, disinfectant, masks are not obligatory although not all firms have guaranteed the precautionary measures so far.

But this is not a blog about information which can be easily found on the news, as the situation is dramatic and journalists worldwide a covering stories and developments.

It’s a personal comment on what lockdown means at a local level:

– the radio is on immediately on the mornings to get an update on numbers as well as a quick look at  world numbers.

– the days are long, and there is no rush to do anyway. Time is on hold, everything is in slow motion

– I can sit and watch the frost melt in the garden over my morning coffee or read a book in the sunshine in the afternoon.Paint job on balcony railing

– there is no need to worry about what to wear each day. I have spent most days in my beloved overalls as have many of my neighbors. There has been a hive of activity going on here as we – garden, fix the shutters, paint railings, clean up the garden furniture, redo fencing and generally potter about. The  sounds of whippersnippers, sanding machines, clippers, saws and hammers are comforting. The advantage of living in the country where we can wave and chat across fences.

– it feels like we are all on holidays, days melt into days till it’s hard to remember what day it is.

– my young nextdoor neighbor is pleased he is still able to work, and laughs at himself as he never thought he’d say that! Otherwise he’d be bored to tears at home.

Riders working during Lockdown

Foto credit Francesco Spighi

– it’s all selfies now in the sense of self haircuts, home gym or yoga routines, home schooling, digital libraries, home deliveries and massive amounts of social networking. Sharing info, advice, resources ‘virtual’ and good and bad jokes.

– using the new technology of 3D printers to reproduce broken valves in the essential ventilators. Unfortunately the Company that has the patent is threatening to sue the young lads StartUp firm for doing so!

– being resourceful and making masks at home since they are largely unavailable andHome n=made masks more needed by hospital staff than us.

– a time of solidarity, volunteers caring for those who don’t have a home to be quarantined in. A reorganization of charity/church associations to still cater within the hygiene precautions


Supermarket queue

Foto credit: Andrea Contini

– standing in a queue in an eerie silence, with a shopping trolley and face mask, waiting to go into the supermarket. That was a bit distressing, somewhat surreal,  although inside both shoppers and cashiers had a kind word of encouragement to each other.

– the need to communicate is strong amongst Italians, so there are daily flash mobs from balconies mostly in the cities, singing, and playing music or just banging saucepan lids! Heart rendering stuff with old time favourites like – ‘Volare’, ‘Azzurro, or tear jerking renditions of the National Anthem! My little village managed the noon applause for all the health workers, a sign of appreciation and encouragement to keep battling for us. But we are a little too embarrassed to sing!

– an appreciation for the solidarity being shown from the rest of the worldChina sent medical teams and an enormous amount of ventilators, masks and important equipment on a private plane. Others let us know by lighting monuments in Italian colours from Sarajevo to Dubai.

– it will make or break families, and flatmates, as 24hr isolation together is a trial

– a high consumption of hand cream from the washing

– it’s a time of reflection, on how we lived up to now and how this will change us forever.

It may be lockdown now but we have not lost the key and will reopen, resurface and recharge as will you all when this corona virus nightmare is over.

Andra tutto bene’!

It's going to be alright

Foto credit Francesco Spighi www.francescosighi.com



12 thoughts on “Lockdown Italian style

  1. Hi Sue
    This is Kerry Close, Thelma and Allan Marks’ daughter. I have been enjoying your blogs for some time and it is incredible to think it has come to this now, that you must be in lockdown while so many people are falling victim to this dreadful virus. My daughter-in-law’s family are in Sardinia and she is terribly worried about them. She and my son and grandson are not far away from me in Sydney and I get the feeling that we all may soon be in lockdown ourselves (we probably should be) although the PM is trying to avoid that. Stay safe and keep up your blog. It is great to get the news from an insider as awful as it is but I do wonder if the government here is not telling us the whole truth. We must look forward to the day when it is finally over and we can get on with things normally again and enjoy the wonders that the world has to offer. Thanks again and best wishes. Kerry.

    • Kerry how lovely to hear from you, I had forgotten you had subscribed. The situation is definitely grim but I hope that didn’t come through too much in the blog. Frightening to see the numbers escalate so quickly all over the world. I keep telling my brother and family and friends in Aust to start self isolation anyway even before the government takes action as the virus just creeps up on you. And do hope it does not take hold in Aust like it did here. The impression we get is that if we isolate as much as possible, limited and distant physical contact and wash our hands continually we should be Ok…..so that goes for your relatives in Sardegna. We will get through and hopefully be better people after it is all over.. Stay safe Hugs Sue

  2. Hang on in there, Sue. In lovely green Tasmania, we have put up the barriers – no entry to visitors at all. Only ‘approved’ people can fly or ship in. The dogs and I are bonding like never before and I’m going to tackle all Agatha Christie books – so long as the library system keeps going. My singing group stopped this week and today we had to close the local Hospital Kiosk – very sad for our customers and volunteers. We had a sale on the last pieces of cake and biscuits. We raise funds for hospital equipment so everyone wants to be back asap. Our arts group, trivia night, exercise classes have all come to a halt but we realise we are keeping safer by isolating earlier. If only people would stop hoarding food, medicines, toilet rolls! Best wishes, Bronwyn Gardner (tours in about 2014/15)

    • We will definitely hang in Bronwyn, though it is such an unreal situation. Good to hear you are already taking up safety measures and stopping classes etc. Better to be safe than sorry. It does mean you have more time to bond with those close to you and do artwork and handicrafts. Stay safe Sue

  3. Hello Sue Jane, you have a very tuff time in Italy.
    We in Australia have a change of new instructions on a daily bases. You most properly get updates from family and friends in Australia.
    Gosh Australia has changed! People cue up and fight in the streets for toilet paper. It sells out as soon as it hits the shelves at certain times of the day and if you are lucky to get some it is 1pack of 12 only. Hand Sanitiser liquid , all gone . Certain items are gone , the shelves are empty . All Art Exhibitions cancelled and so are Sports . The Footy is still on but no fans are allowed into the grounds. Cueing up 1.5 m distance from the next person and many more restrictions. Hope your ban is lifted soon. Stay save ! Looking forward to your next mail. I love the way the Italians sing and play music on Balconies. Cheers Chris

    • Thanks Chris, I think it’s going to be sometime yet before it’s all over here. We try to keep positive. I have seen the battles over toilet paper and more going on in Oz, seems to be an unnecessary panic as we still have regular supplies getting through thanks to those still working. Stay safe Sue

  4. Hi Sue. I never met you but a friend of mine did hiking in Cinque Terra in 2018. She told a few of us about you and I joined your blog. Love hearing your tales. We live over in California, USA. Last night the whole state has been put in the “Shelter In Place” mode for who knows how long. A few other states are following suit (or at least some major cities). Yes, only allowed to go outside for the essentials basically. We hear in Italy they have banned or discourage using a bike, as if there is an accident, the injured is taking up much needed resources that are needed for virus victims. Is that true?
    I agree with you, it would be smart for everyone to shelter in place as much as they can, even if not ordered to.
    Thanks for the post from the “inside”.
    Hope to be back in Italy one of these years!!!

    • Hi Michele, being in the mess we are in in Italy it’s easy for us to say to other countries ‘shutdown now’ to limit the spread. Biking, jogging, hiking or just strolling around are banned to limit contact between people, not just in case of injuries. As we are all bored at home lots went to the parks and bike groups training etc. Until we started to see dramatic photos of hospitals overwhelmed and staff exhausted and many have died because of the work they do, we treated the isolation a little too lightly. It’s such a surreal situation it’s hard to get used to. Do hope you get back here some day….drop me a line of you do. In the meantime stay safe Sue

  5. Hi Sue Jane my name is lyn , I listened to you on 2GB this morning and could hardly wait to get home to read your blog . I feel for everyone in these very trying times . Unfortunately here in Aus a lot of Aussie have adopted the attitude of “she’ll be right mate “ and really this needs to change !
    Looking forward to getting to know you and hearing more about the beautiful country you have adopted as your own .

    • Thank you so much Lyn. I really appreciate it and certainly hope Aust begins to lockdown before it is too late. My blog is a very humble one and only appears every couple of weeks, no stress! Regards Sue

  6. Hi Sue. Me again from the California. I will look you up the next time I am in your area. This blog stays with me daily. As you may have heard, the US has passed Italy in cases. Sounds like a race, which I wish we were not in.

    What I wanted to tell you is an exercise facility here BOND Fitness is holding a “BondAid” class Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (US) where they are working to get 20,000 people across the world moving and exercising and bonding together. These folks are super energetic and the positivity that the owners and trainers exude is infectious (maybe not the right word right now). Anyway, this will be on Instagram under BOND Fitness (on my Instagram it is a blue logo). Please join us, and any other friends that can make this happen. Thanks.

    • Hi Michele, thanks for the tip! We are following gym classes with our local gym as it is so easy to get very sluggish staying at home. I check the world figures every day as have friends and family staying in all over the world. We have had some encouraging numbers in Italy as they start to slow down but we are far from out of it. Stay positive, we are all in the same boat.

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