What I’ve Learned From Being in Italy During Coronavirus

90 days ago I watched with disbelief as Florence shut down. Here’s what my friends and I think now we’ve emerged from lockdown.

Image: Argo Images, Pixabay

Coronavirus: My Unlikely Muse

I wrote many more pieces. My suspicions of a link between air pollution and the viral epicentres,( which turned out to be the case according to the latest research), about what it was like to be the first country in lockdown, about moving from Florence back to the countryside just in time. I described Italians singing from balconies and how I felt guilty because I was quite enjoying the peace and quiet as the natural world hit the reset button.

Image Jill Wellington, Pixabay

The Lifting of Lockdown

Italy has had the toughest and longest lockdown in Europe. I was lucky enough to escape Florence on the first day, March 9, when police checks were just being set up and the “reasons for travel” forms had just been released. We wore masks and social distanced before anyone else. The country was the guinea pig and for a while had precious little support from other nations as it contended with a massive death toll, mainly in the Po Valley region in the north of the country.

When I ventured into the local bar I was greeted by a neighbour extending an extended pinkie finger which I tapped with mine

The president of Tuscany, Enrico Rossi, thinks the premier should have stuck with the plan of staged reopening and also to the two-metre social distance advice. “One metre distance makes no sense,” he said. “You might as well not bother at all.” He described Monday’s reopening as a “bomba libera” which I think is best translated as a “ticking time bomb”.

Image: Mircea Iandu, Pixabay

The Numbers Now

The implication in the reader’s question, or at least the one I drew from it, was “look at the huge death toll. You were mistaken weren’t you, to tell people not to panic?”

Image: Rottonara, Pixabay

How I Feel Now

Three months down the line, was lockdown the right thing to do, considering the collateral damage to economies and individuals, and all the hidden victims?

What People are Saying

This week I did an unscientific poll of my Facebook friends, from a number of countries across the world, asking them how much of a risk they thought the coronavirus was now, how sure they were of the real facts and were governments right to lockdown.

Image: Tumisu, Pixabay

Is the Risk Real?

One thing that I noticed from the comments was that almost everyone accepted that the threat was real and felt at risk to a greater or lesser degree. When pressed about what convinced her there was a real risk, one lady replied: “the death count works for me … and it’s probably not accurate, at least in the US.”

Fear and War

My first article (you know, that one) called fear “the real virus”. Is that how I feel now? Obviously there has been — there is still — a real virus out there which is complex, changing and not fully understood. It has killed people, lots of people. Am I seriously still saying that fear is more dangerous?

Image: Jesse Bridgewater, Pixabay

It’s not new to use military metaphor about contagious diseases

In Italy, as in other countries, the pandemic has been classed from the outset as a war. The language has been combative: we are fighting an invisible enemy, our health staff are heroes on the front line, the human race is under attack, but we have a winning strategy and we are going to win the battle.

The Way Forward

Something that has emerged over the last three months is the speed with which we adjust to a situation, no matter how surreal or initially unacceptable.

Image: Annca, Pixabay.

British Writer, Editor in Tuscany, Italy. Topics: Nature, Ancient History, Spirituality. https://www.twinclianpress.com twitter: @writerinitaly

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