It’s been seven weeks since I posted anything here. I simply haven’t been inspired to write. In early March, when Italy’s coronavirus outbreak escalated to large numbers of cases and deaths, predominantly in the northern regions, I felt an utter sadness deep in my heart, and a strong worry for my Italian friends who live and work in Bella Italia, my home away from home.
You know from this blog and my writings how passionate I am about Italy and the Italian people. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to write another blog post about all my wonderful travels to a place that now is experiencing a massive epidemic and total disruption to businesses and lives. People were told to quarantine and in a few short weeks, by March 10, 2020, the entire nation of 60 million people was on lockdown. They were only allowed to go to the grocery and the pharmacy. Today residents risk fines and possible jail time if they are caught walking their dogs more than 200 meters from their home.
As a retired critical care nurse, I knew this virus, COVID19, wasn’t just like the flu. Despite others’ Pollyanna comments that everything was okay, and that this was just media hype and fear-mongering, I was afraid. Afraid for Italy and what was to come. I had the sense that life was changing and would get worse before it got better.
I tried to communicate and stay in close contact with my friends and family in Italy. They all painted a picture of things not being good. I felt bad, helpless to do anything for the Italian people I’ve come to know and love. All I could do was pray and offer my support, to assure them that I was with them in spirit, and that once travel was allowed again, I’d be there to support their businesses again. At the time I was sure that my planned fall trip would not be in jeopardy.
Now, today, March 30, 2020, Italy is still in full mandatory strict lockdown, and at present, over 75,500 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Over 25,000 of those cases are in Lombardia, and almost 11,000 are in Emilia-Romagna. The regions of Veneto and Piemonte each have over 7,500 cases. But the entire country is affected, as the virus moves south. According to official statistics by Italy’s Civil Protection Department Headquarters, 11,597 people have died. Many of my friends have lost jobs and the situation is dire. I fear that it will take quite some time, many months, before Italy can return to some semblance of normalcy. I now believe a trip in late September looks doubtful.
And now, in the US, the situation that Italians have warned us about, is beginning to happen too. Sadly people still are not listening to the Italians who warn us to stay at home.
I assure you I will do whatever I can to instill encouragement and positivity during a bleak time, a global pandemic. You know I’m an optimistic person and not one who worries needlessly, I try to be realistic, and encouraging too. So, you might wonder, what can we do together? For not only ourselves, but for Italy?
Stay in contact with those who mean so much, who’ve touched your heart in some way. You’d be surprised how much it means to the owner or manager of a small hotel, one you stayed at and hoped to one day return again. An email or a message with kind words to a shop owner, or a tour provider goes a long way toward helping them know they are not alone.
They count on us, and it’s the least we can do. Let them know you’ve learned from their experiences, and tell them you will take proper precautions here to not further spread this contagious virus.
I also think it’s helpful to post images as memories of good times in Italy to inspire hope that better days are ahead. I know the Italian people to be resilient. I have to believe that better days will prevail at some point.
In the meantime, here, take precautions against a rapidly-spreading virus. Stay home as much as possible. Tell someone you love them. Call your friends to check in on them.
Take the time to write or paint or make music, whatever you do that’s s creative. We all wish we had more time. Well, without a job, or somewhere to go, since most places are closed, we have time. Now is a good time to teach yourself something online, or read any of those ten books you bought and haven’t touched in months.
And take a moment to thank anyone who is out there working to save lives, even at increased exposure and risk to themselves. Hopefully we all might end up a little kinder and a little more appreciative of life as we used to know it.
These are my thoughts, my words from the heart. Maybe not everyone agrees. I invite you to comment with your perspective. We are in this for a while and we are in it together. Let’s remember that.
One day we can celebrate being on the other side of this nightmare with a glass of prosecco.
Grazie a tutti.