A Few Words from the Heart



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.

Bergamo An inclined street.

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?

With my friends Sarah and Simona Photo by Margie Miklas

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.

Marco Jovon - Photo by Margie Miklas

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.



30 Responses

  1. stellalucentellc

    Beautifully said: “We are in this for a while and we are in it together. Let’s remember that.” Maybe if nothing else this pandemic will teach more people here in the US that we must remain in touch with those in other countries. Isolationism doesn’t work. We all have so much to learn from each other and of course there are times that we all could use outside help.

  2. Italophilia

    Such a thoughtful post ..I feel so sad for the Italians..You are right about it, its not easy to see it from afar.. MY anxiety has been over the roof. But right now we can only hope…

    Hope things turn around for everyone. Stay safe bella. xx

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you Ishita. It’s definitely a challenging time for the world and hope makes each of us able to get through the days, one at a time. Stay healthy

  3. Tony Staffaroni

    Thank you Margie for this excellent post. I completely agree with everything you have said. Andra tutto bene!

    • margieinitaly

      Grazie, Tony. I know we’re on the same page. Stay safe. We’ll get through this

  4. Debra Kolkka

    I have been in lockdown in Italy for 3 weeks, with more to go. I am fortunate to be in a lovely place with a garden. I know many are not as fortunate.
    I go down my mountain once a week to the supermarket to buy supplies. It is strange to see few cars on the road and even fewer people walking about.
    The supermarket is well stocked and everybody is keeping their distance and the supermarket staff are doing a great job.
    Watching the news is awful. Our area is not badly affected, but I can see what is happening elsewhere.
    Stay home and stay well and we can all do our bit to stop the virus spreading.

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you Debra. I think of you a lot since I know you’re on lockdown in Italy. Having been to your beautiful mountain home, I know what serenity it provides. Very much needed during this crisis. I hope you’ll be out of lockdown sometime soon.

  5. karenincalabria

    Beautifully said, Margie. Having been following the situation for over a month, I, too, put the blogposts I had prepared on hold as they didn’t feel appropriate. And then today, Tomie DePaola passed away, not of the virus, but there seems to be such sadness all around. I think that we need to find inspiration, such as in DePaola’s playful children’s stories or in great art or literature, to cherish family and friends, and this, too, will pass.

    • margieinitaly

      You’re right, Karen. The news gets to be too much sometime. It’s important to find something positive to focus on. I love the idea of reading one of Tomie DePaola’s children’s stories. Thank you. And stay safe

  6. Un po' di pepe

    I felt the same way Margie, not feeling i could write, but as a fellow nurse, i ended up writing a post 2 weeks ago after overhearing too many conversation with comments like ‘it is so overblown’, ‘the regular flu kills more people’ and ‘only old people are dying’. Well—i had to set the record straight. Now i feel like we are all in a terrible low budget horror movie. My family members in Italia are feeling like this will never end. i don’t understand why the rest of the world has not responded sooner, seeing the devastation. Mannaggia. But we will get through this together #insiemecelafaremo! Stay safe, Cristina

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you Cristina…I will read your post….it must be even more difficult knowing your family in Italy is going through the worst of it. Stay safe, stay positive. We will get through this eventually.

  7. Phyllis@Oracibo

    Thank you for this post Margie…those of us who adore spending time in Italy are heartbroken. Having made an emergency exit from Rome only 2 weeks ago, not being able to visit with friends due to the lock down, seeing owners of restaurants and shops having to close down was devastating to watch. It’s difficult to express the sadness and sorrow we all feel…

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you Phyllis for your very personal perspective. We are in this together. Better times are ahead

  8. Ashley

    Thank you for your message, Margie. It is heartbreaking but I know that Italy will come back stronger than ever. Un abbraccio, Ashley

    • margieinitaly

      Thanks so much, Ashley. We both know how special the Italian people are. I know both of us will return there as soon as possible. Stay safe my friend.

  9. dollygoolsby

    Thank you for posting this message. As a fellow travel blogger and traveler, your words reflect many of my own feelings. As a nation, we, in the United States, should look at what has happened it Italy and learn from the Italian people’s experiences. Social isolation, for us, is not a handicap. It is a life-saving measure. I love that you feel comfortable posting pictures of some of your previous experiences in not only yours, but my second home. I am encouraged by you, and I will post on my blog site some of my experiences. The Italian people that I know and love need our emotional support. I will continue to keep in touch with them. I appreciate your comments.

    • margieinitaly

      Hi Dolly. I know from reading your blog that we share the same love of Italy. I’ll look forward to your next post.

  10. Paul Oliver

    I was hoping to visit Italy in the Fall – my first trip! Sounds like it may be next year. I’ll say a little prayer for them

    • margieinitaly

      I’m saving a little bit of optimism for the fall, Paul. But each day it waves a bit. I think we will know more in a couple of months. Thanks for commenting

  11. Bonnie Davis

    Amazingly enough I was allowed to post today. I sent this on to Facebook to remind people that it could get much worse here if we fail to heed the rules. And I will continue to pray for Italy and all the world that is being consumed by a runaway viral particle that kills.

    • margieinitaly

      Thank You Bonnie. I’m so happy you’ve been able to leave a comment. I also posted this to FB but the more people we can reach, the better. Take care of yourself

  12. Travel Gourmet

    I feel so much the same, loving Italy too and having Italian friends and often holidaying there. I’ve been in touch with a couple of favourite hotels to check on them – one in Venice. I do hope they manage to survive. I wonder how much things will have changed when we can eventually go back. Here in London I’ve experienced a greater sense of community and such kindness from people. There has been a positive side to this. But of course it’s terrible how many people are dying too. Take care and stay safe.

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you for your perspective, Kay. And I hope you are staying safe….I think we all look forward to the day we are on the other side of this pandemic and can travel freely again.

  13. Florence

    Thank you for your wonderful touching post!
    There really is nothing I can add to what you’ve already said.

    • margieinitaly

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Florence. Stay healthy and safe, my friend.

      • Florence

        Thank you Margie! Trusting that you & your family are also well & safe.
        Congrats on your audiobooks my friend!

        • margieinitaly

          Yes we are fine. Thanks so much Florence. A labor of love. I hope you’re finding time to write these days

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