Lockdown, Italian Style
Dear Readers, Welcome to the Zona Protetta, a more cautious Italy with the same vibe as those quiet Ferragosto days of closures, but with much more temperance and some new rules. What exactly does this mean? On March 10, 2020 Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and our government put into effect country-wide DPCM 9 decree fondly known as #Iorestoacasa (I’m staying at home), deigning the entire country a zona protetta, (protected zone) where all citizens, residents and guests follow the same (understandably) rigid decorum regulations, closures and travel rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. It’s a big deal, it’s serious, and we are following these rules through (at least) April 3, 2020.
‘There is no more time – our future is in our hands” – Giuseppe Conte, PM
What does this mean for me? For my family? For my neighbors? First and foremost, it means there is nothing to be afraid of, instead everything to admire as Italy is doing its very best to shut down the virus. Our part is easy, we just have to follow through and be responsible to ourselves and our fellow citizens. This is more than washing hands and staying one meter distance apart. We’ve been asked to remain at home and make smart, conscientious choices. I know you are curious about the details so here’s what we can and cannot do in Italy.
- We workout, read, watch movies, play boardgames and do yoga at home. All public events are banned. Cinemas, theaters, gyms, spas, discos/clubs, pubs, hair and nail salons, and more are closed. Funerals, weddings and sporting events are cancelled – including Serie A matches (I told you, we are serious).
- We homeschool. All schools and universities are closed until 3 April.
- We work from home, rely on video calls and don’t bring anyone into the home office. I am already insane after two days of juggling working with homeschooling.
- We hang out solo (or with immediate family) but nothing in a group. No more dinners with friends, no gatherings, congregating, conferences, or congresses. St. Peter’s Square is closed.
- We stay in Rome. No spontaneous “hey let’s get a pizza in Napoli” travel. We must remain in town, with outside travel only for proven essential work, health or family reasons.
- We leave open the possibility of even stricter restrictions. We just don’t know what else we will need to do.
So far, so good. The streets are quiet(er), and the vibe is positive. Personally, I haven’t sensed or seen any panic or exaggeration, though I have heard reports of boredom. Yes, #IoRestoaCasa advises us to stay in but we are allowed to leave our homes. We can visit certain shops like the grocery store, forno bread shop and even random Brandi Melliville. I have a feeling we’ll see the eventual closure of non-essential shops, again Brandi [now closed].
UPDATE MARCH 12: All non-essentials are closed. All bars, restaurants and shops are closed. Pharmacies, grocery and food stores, supermarkets and markets remains open. Newspaper stands, gas stations, service areas, laundromats, banks, tabacchi, and essentials like plumbers and hardware stores (I believe) remain open.
How do we get things we can’t find at a grocery store? We rely on deliveries. Amazon, UPS, Glovo, UberEats and other food services (I imagine food deliveries wills top) are still happening, and public transport is running, but honestly, why be on a bus right now if you don’t need to be? For the curious, train service has not stopped, most airports are open though several are shutting down. We are required to provide an auto-certificate for all essential travel . Consider Italy idling in neutral for a little bit.
UPDATE: Can we get out of the house?
#iorestoacasa advises staying indoors as much as possible. We can leave our homes for groceries, pharmacies, work, health and dog walking but we must stay at least one meter apart and ideally be alone. We are advised to bring an autocertifciate- a document stating who we are and our reason for being outside. Technically, sport activities (again, not in groups) are permitted. Prior to the DCPM update on the evening of March 11, I wrote that we stroll, walk and jog the neighborhood and even practice outdoor sport. Since Thursday, less people are walking or jogging, getting out for grocery store visits and dog walking. We have reduced our personal outdoor activity to necessity store visits.
The government strongly emphasizing remaining at home to control the contagion.
Per questo motivo il DPCM prevede delle deroghe con riferimento agli spostamenti. E si parla di lavoro, di salute e di necessità. Sono deroghe che nascono nell’interesse della comunità e non dei bisogni del singolo, con l’eccezione di ciò che riguarda lo stato di salute di ciascuno. È per questo motivo che si raccomanda di non spostarsi per fare una passeggiata (se lo facessero tutti ci si ritroverebbe in massa in strada) o per andare a trovare un amico- Polizia di Stato
Translation: For this reason, the DCPM has certain travel exceptions – work, health and necessity. These are …. in the interest of the community and not of the needs of the individual, with the exception of personal health. It is …recommended not to go out for a walk (if everyone did they would find themselves en masse in the street) or to meet up with a friend. In other words, if everyone were to take a walk, the streets would be crowded so stay at home!
How to See Italy From Home
I know you want to get out of your house and see more of Italy, and so do I. When I want to take a walk out of the house and to Venice, Naples, the Alps or even Rome, I click over to Skyline Web Cams. I am obsessed with the time-lapse function, my favorite piazza watching is Piazza del Duomo, Milan. When I need some culture, I’ll hop into a museum. Italy’s Ministry of Culture MiBACt has dedicated page to aggregating as many virtual and online cultural initiatives as possible in categories: books/libraries, education, museums, music, cinema and theatre. And MiBACt has great YouTube programming. Though this is an Italian language resource, it’s a great resource in general. To get even more inside culture institutions, check out Google Arts & Culture.
When I want to go local, I can skip over to the Vatican Museums for their six virtual tours including the Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel. MuseinComune, Rome’s museum circuit, offers five virtual tours of my favorite museums: Musei Capitolini , Trajan’s Market, Ara Pacis, Museo Napoleonico and Villa Torlonia’s Casino Nobile. MAXXI is virtual and La Galleria Nazionale as well.
What about the restaurants?
UPDATE: All bars, restaurants and shops are now closed.
As you may have guessed, I love eating, I love restaurants and I love talking food. This strange time of restrictions, worry and temperance is taking its toll on Italy’s restaurants. The nationwide decree limits the hours of restaurants and coffee shops to between 6am and 6pm, and in some areas, restaurants have completed shuttered their doors. Restaurants in Lombardia, Emilia Romagna and Veneto have been empty for three weeks. Rome’s restaurants have been dead for nearly two weeks. Even with lunch openings, there are few diners eating out.
We joked that it was the best time to book that coveted Michelin spot. We’re not joking now. Right now, no one dines out as we all bunker down with #iorestoacasa. This could change. Restaurants are now closed. I am worried. Restaurants have always been networks of communities that spawn more communities, and with no guests and rent to pay, what’s going to happen to salaries? This is the same worry for every other business in every other sector and industry. But today, I feel a little bit more concerned for these spots which have become my gastro-oases. Since March 1, I have tried to visit at least one of my favorite food spots each day and share them with you on Instagram. And I will continue to do so. Yesterday, we were the only guests at Luciano Cucina, kingdom of Luciano Monosilio, Italy’s King of Carbonara. The restaurant was empty, and it was heartbreaking. I am racking my brain trying to figure some kind of initiative like a Gift Certificate/Pay It Forward program where you as Italophiles can buy someone a lunch today at your favorite Rome restaurant. I don’t know if this will be possible but it’s worth a thought. If you need some suggestions on amazing chefs and restaurants across Italy, just ask me, and listen to my podcast.
We may not be able to hold hands but we are trying to help each other. Certain cities are offering free home delivery services for groceries and other products. I am trying to find out what is happening in Rome. The government has a launched Solidarietà Digitale, solidarity with digital businesses including Amazon, la Repubblica, offering free services and platforms from Amazon, Mondadori, WeSchool, Tim, Microsoft and more. I’ll update with more when I read about them.
So I am just going to ask you in the Twitterverse – what are your favorite middle school age movies that are NOT cartoons? Because I can’t take it #iorestoacasa Day 1 pic.twitter.com/oqInhPVA10
— Erica Firpo (@Moscerina) March 9, 2020