On March 9, Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown. The Italian government did this to prevent the spreading of the Corona virus.
For millions of Italians, life as they knew it changed a great deal. This means that everything is closed down, except for supermarkets and pharmacies.
Tons of people stopped going to work, and they restricted all forms of public gathering. The atmosphere, they say, is surreal.
Life in lockdown
Let us explain what exactly is going on and how well are the Italians handling all these changes in their lives.
First of all, the whole country is in the red zone. What does this mean? No one that’s currently there can leave the country. If you’re a stranger, you’re kind of just stuck in Italy. All schools and universities are closed. All stores are also closed. A lot of people work from home, but some people do go to work. But they work fewer hours than they regularly do, or they work only a couple of days in the week.
Generally, most people stay at home, and they only go out to buy groceries from supermarkets or medications from pharmacies. When you do go to stores, you need to wait in line and keep a social distance from other people.
You don’t greet people anymore with a handshake or a hug. There’s less traffic in the cities, and everything’s quiet.
All celebrations are canceled, all restaurants and coffee shops are closed.
So, they don’t go to work, and they don’t go out, they’re just stuck at home.
What is life like in quarantine?
You’d probably think, what do Italians do then? What’s life like in times like these?
Well, of course, they’re worried about their health and the economy, but it seems that they’re not letting fear control their lives.
The Italians are coming together in a lot of ways, and they are hanging inspiring posters and singing from their balconies. They are applauding health care workers on the front lines every evening.
It seems they remain pretty positive in these challenging times.
What’s their secret?
Some Italians explain that they have a phrase that goes like this “the sweetness of doing nothing.” What this means is that they are easy-going and relaxed. They know how to live in the moment without having anything to look forward to.
While people all over the world lead busy lives and have crazy schedules, Italians have a different approach to life. They know how to slow down and enjoy doing nothing. So, perhaps this is how they find a way to be happy when they have to stay at home.
You see everywhere the slogan “Andra tutto bene” meaning “Everything is gonna be alright.”
You remember that things will get better.
You can feel the solidarity and the hope they share.
The Italians embraced the hashtag #iorestoacasa that translates into “I’m staying home.” They are active on social media, and they try to stay in touch with their friends and family.
They share what they are doing at home, what movies they are watching, and what books they are reading.
They say that it’s not too difficult to get used to staying at home because everyone’s doing it. It’s the new normal. Staying home became a new way of living your life.
You can’t celebrate your friend’s birthday in the usual way. So, you celebrate it online, on video calls. And you call your friends more often because you don’t get to see them.
Some people say that the boredom at home made them reach out to old friends that they lost touch a long time ago. More people are reaching out to see how their distant relatives are doing.
Even though cities may seem like ghost cities on the outside, there’s a sense of community and togetherness that the Italians feel from their homes.
In many cities at a certain time in the afternoon, they open their windows and sing Italian classics. It boosts morale and creates a warm atmosphere. People who play musical instruments also join these improvised concerts.
They sing songs like Nino Manfredi’s “Tanto pe’ Cantà” (Just for singing), Al Bano and Romina Power’s “Felicità” (Happiness); and Rino Gaetano’s “Ma il cielo è sempre più blu” (The sky is always bluer).
Some villages and cities play the Italian national anthem. It reminds them how proud they are of being Italians and that together they can rise above the situation.
They dance and drink home-made cocktails. It’s like little private parties in all the apartments are coming together as a massive festival.
In Rome, they spotted a couple dancing in their living room, and they projected the scene on the side of the building. It could be a super-romantic photo to show their grandchildren when this is all over.
A lot of people say that they have more time to work out and focus on the things they never had time to do before.
There are a lot of online courses for learning languages. You can learn French and watch all the French movies you always wanted to see.
You can learn yoga and how to be more mindful and present.
We all know how much the Italians love eating out in restaurants and drinking aperitifs in bars. Since everything is closed, they started cooking more at home.
They became more interested in old recipes from their grandmothers. It seems that a lot of the forgotten old recipes will come back to life during this lockdown.
Many Italians share the recipes they learn nowadays on social media for everyone to try some of the traditional delicacies.
Some Italians say that they are having a hard time finding flour, yeast, baking powder, and stuff like that in the supermarkets. Obviously, everybody’s making pizzas, pies, and cakes at home.
They sure enjoy their time at home with all the family gathered around the table. And of course, the richness of Italian cooking is shared on social media and admired all around the world.
There must be a lot of happy grandmothers whose recipes came to life after decades.
And we hope that all these old-new Italian dishes will remain on people’s menus even after their lives go back to reality.
But what about all the lonely grandmothers and grandfathers who don’t have anyone to share their recipes and no one to look out for them?
Well, there’s a phone number for people over 65 to call if they need groceries. And volunteers will run the errands. Most of the volunteers are students who are out of school and have nothing to do, so they choose to help the ones in need.
Even in difficult times for Italy, the Italians show their kindness and compassion in millions of ways.
They bring faith in humanity with every song they sing from their windows and every inspirational post they put on social media.
The ancient Romans had a saying that goes like this “Dum vita est, spes est” which means “While there is life, there is hope.”
And it certainly feels like that’s never felt more true than right now.