Day 5 of lock down in Italy: I like a list. I always have lists in different places around the house. A shopping list in the kitchen where Miss S sneakily adds things like chocolate, cacao and ice-cream. Another list for things that I want to remember to do. There is also a list that currently sits on my bedside table of places to visit in Italy.
Many of them were places I thought we would visit in March and April as the only other thing on the calendar was my 50th birthday celebrations at the end of April. In my head I had a day trip to Pompeii planned. A hike up to the Vesuvio National Park. A trip to see the new exhibition at the Royal palace at Capodimonte. And a whimsical tour of the Royal Palace in the historical centre of Naples. A weekend trip to one of the island in the bay of Naples. A visit to the Vatican......
A close friend of mine suggested today that I'll probably need to postpone my 50th birthday. If anything it means I'll get to celebrate three or four times in different places with different groups of friends.
I've been thinking about couples who had weddings planned for this time of year in Italy. All those arrangements and the bride and groom not allowed to leave their respective homes. I was also pondering about families that don't normally spend this much time inside, sharing space, and whether domestic violence is potentially going to see a spike. I guess the other possibility is a spike in the birth rate in 9-10 months.
Back to the lists …. I've got a lock down list. Things I often think about doing but don't usually find the time to do. Cleaning out drawers and cupboards. Sorting through papers and files. Reading the pile of books beside the bed. Spring cleaning. Spending time on the phone....the list is long but certainly achievable under the current conditions.
Today involved cleaning said bathrooms, laundry, tidying drawers and dusting. Miss S had an online lesson with her teacher here in Italy (Saturday is still a school day!) and 2 Maths lessons with Mr Gigi. I may or may not have watched Mission Impossible 4.
Miss S did what any inventive 10 year old does when you have time and inspiration strikes. She raided the recycling bin and started an enormous DIY storage craft project. It's kept her busy for a good part of the day, cutting, taping, designing and repurposing. She also had lengthy video chats with friends in Australia which is always a great way to start the weekend.
The highlight though was talking to some of the people I love most in the world. My parents, having arrived in Tasmania today, regaled me with stories of Mum's broken nose and black eyes and assured me that they had back up plans to get back to Brisbane in case of a lock down in Australia. My sister Kim had updates on her gluten free cooking successes and plans to reduce her domestic travel for work. My childhood friend Helen video called to check in on us and suggested we listen to an interview with Dr Karl about Coronavirus on radio station 9.3 with Robin, Terry and Bob. It's been added to my list for tomorrow.
I normally dip in and out of the news, skimming headlines and rarely reading anything much about what's happening with Italian politics and the economy. I currently feel compelled to try and keep up with the news cycle, but there is just so much going on around the world that it's hard to keep up. And that's just re COVID-19.
I receive travel alerts from the Australian government and about 10 days ago subscribed to also receive the UK government travel alerts. Each morning my inbox is littered with dozens of UK govt emails re COVID-19 alerts from different countries somewhere around the globe. I think Antarctica is the only continent not affected at this stage.
NZ is completely closing it's borders. And why wouldn't they?
The Italian government is set to approve a range of fiscal measures in response to COVID-19. As reported on ANSA.it "The culture ministry proposed providing a voucher that could be used by the end of 2020 to reimburse any performances that were cancelled due to coronavirus, including tickets for concerts, cinema, theatres, and museums; as well as a 100-million-euro fund to support to cinema and live theatre.
The interior ministry is requesting 58 million euros for overtime funding and sanitary expenses and the deployment of police 4,000 officers for activities of control and public order related to the coronavirus epidemic.
The education ministry proposed abolishing medical board exams for medical school graduates and qualifying them for the profession based on their performance during their internships.
The foreign ministry is requesting one million euros in funding to protect the security of Italian citizens and civil servants working abroad. Another proposal is to provide 10 million euros in funding in 2020 and 2021 to the country's prison system to repair damages sustained during recent revolts, when prisoners reacted violently to bans on visitors due to the coronavirus emergency...." Insert eye roll here.
Currently, the only mention of supporting families is to suspend mortgage payments (what about the majority of people who may rent?) and reducing utility bills for 2020. No mention of extra funds for hospitals or establish rive through COVID-19 screenings like in South Korea.
News that Spain's Prime Minister has confirmed there will be a 15-day nationwide lock down has just pinged on my screen. I'll be surprised if Italy's lockdown is as short as 15 days.
Gigi showed off cooking pasta fagioli according to his grandmother's recipe for dinner. It turned out to be completely different to the recipe his grandmother taught me some 15 years ago. I'm sending him out to brave the empty streets and buy a few groceries tomorrow.
But the nicest thing I did today was to stand in a shaft of warming sunlight with the balcony doors wide open and look down our quiet alleyway this morning. There is a feeling of spring in the air. A neighbour smoking on her balcony spotted me and called out a greeting and we exchanged a few exasperated comments.
It feels a bit like we're in a bubble, protected inside our homes, as the silent virus marches across the planet. But it's also clearly evident that we are all connected in our humanity. Hopefully the experience of dealing with COVID-19 will leave the world changed for the better in the long run.
Day 6 of lock down in Italy: We went old school today. Card games, checkers, puzzles and dolls. We changed beds, mopped floors and Miss S tidied her desk. The scissors and glue came out for some mosaic art.
The Italian school Whatspp group has been pinging all day (yep, Sunday!) as parents try to log onto the school portal to access tasks. Without log in or password we haven't even bothered yet.
I aired out bedding, shook out rugs and opened windows today to let some warm, spring air into the apartment. Miss S spent 20 minutes reading an Italian comic on the balcony in the sunshine this morning. Having outside space and a garden as part of our living space is something I've really been missing this week. I reckon Australians are much better placed as a general rule for a lock down scenario as most homes have some sort of outside space in which kids can play and parents can potter in the dirt.
Friends in Israel and Germany are preparing to be locked down. I worry for my friends in UK and USA where the governments' responses have been very different to elsewhere.
Italy has reported 368 deaths in a day - the record daily death toll to date. Nearly 25 000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Italy to date. So imagine the actual numbers including those that have had no symptoms, or minor symptoms, and haven't been tested. Italian health experts are expecting these numbers to increase as it will take two weeks before the lock down measures start to have an impact on the spread.
The north of Italy, especially in Milan and the province of Lombardy, continues to the hardest hit area. They have run out of ambulances and artificial ventilators and ICU beds. A shipment of masks arrived for medical staff from China today but ventilators and other medical equipment is still on its way from overseas.
Rome's Ciampino airport is closed as off today and from Tuesday only one terminal will be operating at the other international airport in Rome, Fiumicino.
Gigi ventured out today. He repaired the bicycle that belongs to the landlady to go to the ATM, fill up water bottles at the community water filling station and buy some groceries. He said he saw two people walking, three people on bicycles and five cars driving in town. He also a saw the local police driving around. They gave him a wave of acknowledgement. We are known to most of the locals in town - that Australian family - especially since Miss S has been attending the local school.
Thankfully the police are not stopping people in our village to check why they are moving around. Regardless, most locals are staying at home But it seems that in more populated areas police have set up road blocks and are checking that you are 1. alone (as only one person from each family can leave at any one time) 2. have a legitimate or urgent reason 3. have the correct documentation. I've read that the government may impose a curfew if people continue to flout the Stay at Home decree.
It is indeed a strange time. Around the world school classrooms are empty of chattering children. Sporting stadiums usually filled with cheering fans are quiet. Airports have no one queuing to check in. Museums and art galleries are gathering dust. Pizzeria ovens haven't seen wood nor fire for 6 nights. The gondolas in Venice are moored in an unprecedented shut down. The historical centre of Naples, usually filled with scooters and cars and pedestrians, is almost devoid of activity. Now is the perfect time to get that photo in front of the Trevi Fountain.
Australian supermarkets have seen an unseasonal surge in profits...more than their usual Christmas period rush. The cruise ship industry has come to a rude halt as countries ban them from entering ports. The only masses held in Italy today were those conducted virtually. Italian tourist officials are worried that the COVID-19 could do more damage to the tourist industry than the Sept 11 attacks. In Australia the prediction is that COVID-19 will cost the community more than the recent devastating bushfires did. Even the city that never sleeps, New York City, is starting to close down.
And on this day today in 44BC, Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was murdered by Brutus, Cassius and other conspirators.