rome Vatican fountain

Weather’s great, at least that, because everything else is out of kilter. The news from the north has been on TV non-stop for a couple of weeks now, with ghostly pictures of Milan, Brescia, Venice et al, but we somehow thought it wouldn’t touch us here in Rome.

Then last weekend came a mix of government declarations, and no less than some 20.000 people rushed down south on Sunday, to be “home” when the worst of the restrictions would hit. Trains, buses full, even someone apparently took a taxi all the way to Rome and it cost her some 1.200 euros.

What all these people didn’t realize was that, apart from apparently “bringing” the virus down to the rest of the country, they would be placed in automatic self-quarantine for 14 days. Anyway.

Reaction locally hadn’t been very noticeable until today. Yesterday you still had people crammed into coffee bars, hogging space, pushing to get served their cappuccinos and cornetti. Today people have started to pay attention to signs, which go from general information, to notices to keep at least a meter between people, to other ones saying the place could get closed down if rules aren’t respected.

As all bars and restaurants have to close by 6 pm, the pizzerias in the area have put up signs saying you can order take-out later, go by to pick it up or have it sent home … on condition you don’t touch the person delivering. Yes, don’t touch.

As I said, good thing the weather’s nice. The local supermarket is open, but only lets about 10 people inside at a time, so there’s the longest queue outside. Pharmacies are open too, but there, only 2 clients can get in at a time: the area around the closest one looks more like a football crowd waiting outside the stadium. And old-fashioned habits are back, not new-fangled modern push-buttons: when you get there, you holler “who’s the last person?”  and take it from there…

Everyone I know is working online. Some behavior I find strange, like the friends who decided to go back up north for the next 3 weeks. North? Yes, because that’s where their relatives are. Others I heard about left Milan last week (the northern quarantine was already ongoing) for Lecce in the deep south, just to attend a family First Communion, and then calmly drove back home. Their relatives were livid.

Apparently it’s now officially a world pandemic.

Haven’t managed to find a protective “mask” yet, but today maybe one person every twenty did have one. I’ve been given the address of a pharmacy where I might (maybe) find one. I’m setting off at daybreak tomorrow. Wish me luck.


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  1. Hi Bea! I’m glad you’re still safe. Here in France we just watched a speech by Macron. The government can’t find a way to equip and test the whole population. So, while they keep us home they’re unveiling some “plan” to let some people to go out starting from May 11th. I suspect another peak at this time.

  2. Hi Bea dM,

    How are you doing? We, over in the States, are getting the reports about Italy and it doesn’t look good. I hope you are well and safe.


    • Bea dM says:

      Thanks Nancy. So far so good, though it’s getting a bit trying. They say it’s for another few weeks… I’m concerned about the news from the USA, where it seems like there’s nothing like any centralised policy?

  3. eswini says:

    It’s heartbreaking 😦 I am so, so sorry. I hope things get better soon. In Jordan we are under a very strict curfew. Unfortunately, I think this is a sacrifice most of Europe should also consider making very soon 😦

    • Bea dM says:

      We’re still allowed to go to the nearest food shop (long queues, one person every 1.5 meters) at least we get a minimum of exercise, which I think is necessary…

  4. bernard25 says:

    Bonjour mon ami amie

    En ce jour de deuxième jour de printemps je viens te saluer
    C’est le plus beau jour ou tout renaît
    Les arbres vont fleurir , la nature vas prendre de la splendeur

    Dommage il faudra attendre pour en profiter

    Aujourd’hui le plus gros handicap la peur
    Mais pensons que
    La plus belle chose et l’amour
    Je te souhaite une belle fin de journée ou de nuit ainsi
    Qu’un agréable weekend
    Bisou Amical Bernard
    Que le réconfort de ses amis amies et
    Sur cet air de printemps

  5. Ellen Hawley says:

    Here in Britain, we’re now just as thoroughly unprepared and the government’s hopelessly bungling everything it possibly can. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

  6. equipsblog says:

    Fascinating reading. Hope you are continuing to do well and that you found that mask.

  7. joliesattic says:

    Stay well. It’s amazing how one week, it was a concern and now everything is being shut down. At least you have good weather and perhaps a walk in the fresh air possible? We’ve had nonstop rain which is unusual for California, so we can’t even venture out. At least you have that.

    • Bea dM says:

      It would be really yukky if we had nonstop rain, sorry about that. Weather has been great here. But walks are theoretically a no-no unless it’s to your nearest supermarket or pharmacy.

      • joliesattic says:

        Oh no, that’s awful. Well, they’ve not outlawed the outdoors yet. I’m sorry. Today we got some sun though but tomorrow, more rain.

  8. Thank you Bea for letting us know how you are doing. I work at a grocery store here in Toronto Canada and the shelves are getting empty and people are complaining and also quite panicked and over shopping (that is why the shelves are empty). I am calm and trying to keep others calm. No restrictions on numbers of customers allowed to enter yet. ❤️to you.

  9. Bea, thanks so much for your update and a glimpse into daily life in Rome as the coronavirus makes its path around the world. It looks like here in the USA we’re about to get a taste of what you’ve been going through. Stay safe and we’ll look forward to your next update. All the best, Terri

  10. Thank you for this update. Stay safe.

  11. Ellen Hawley says:

    Here in Cornwall, it all has an odd sense of unreality still. A lot of people are downplaying it–no worse than the flu, etc. When the guy in the hardware store gave me my change, he looked at it and said, really, he should boil it. The supermarket was just about out of flour. And yet, life seems so oddly normal.

    • Bea dM says:

      It’s happening though. I think I read Johnson has or is going to quarantine over 70s for … 3 months??

      • Ellen Hawley says:

        From one day to the next, no one–I suspect including Johnson–knows what he’s going to do. He started out saying they were going for herd immunity, in other words trying to slow the spread but only relatively minimally. They weren’t going to shut down large public events. Now suddenly they are. They weren’t going to close schools. They may close schools. They weren’t going to test people. They’re still not going to test or trace contacts. They’re going to quarantine the over-70s. Maybe. Who knows.

        In the last day or three, though, people are starting to take this more seriously. It is hard at this stage. The people around us seem to be fine, so it’s hard to imagine they could get you sick.

      • Bea dM says:

        I know, also in the area of Rome I live in. But anyway, we do keep distances, and inside food shops (the only ones open, and where you enter 5 at a time, so big queues outside) salespeople are all masked. Where on earth did they find their masks? None to be found, apparently only black market…

  12. ellenbest24 says:

    They have proven that masks make no difference so sit tight. Bars of Soap and really hot water are best. A cloth soaked in dettol for opening door handles and wiping hand sets and keyboards. Tissue for cough and sneezes. Stay in, order on line and be safe. X

  13. equipsblog says:

    Fascinating story. Stay safe and please keep us informed.

  14. Stay safe. We’re hoping that things will resume to some sense of normalcy in the coming months.

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