Locked Down in Italy: Day 4 – A Sense of Calm

It’s the morning of Day 4 of being locked down in Italy in order to fight the spread of the covid-19 virus, when I realize how profoundly calm I feel.  It is a good feeling, and I embrace it, just sitting still and relishing the sound of birdsong in the garden.  But there is something oddly familiar about this feeling.  When have I felt this way before, I ask myself, and then I remember.

Six years ago nearly to the day, I was diagnosed with cancer.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, my life had changed.  All of the superfluous details and worries of daily life just fell away, and a doctor was outlining the next steps I would be taking.  My life, and its outcome, were no longer in my hands;  I was now just following instructions as to what to do.  And I felt calm.

When the Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte spoke on television to the nation last Monday, and outlined our new reality of living a locked down life,  I tried to listen and grasp the enormity of what he was saying, in the same way that I tried to shake off the sense of shock and comprehend the doctor’s words when he told me I had a tumor.  In the same way that I followed the doctor’s instructions, I was now following the new rules set forth by the Italian government.  My life was once again out of my hands, its outcome unsure.  The difference being that now 60 million other people were living this same life along with me, while we try to imagine a future when this will all be over.

Today, I can look back 6 years ago, and feel my good luck –  I am well, cured, healthy.  But today I cannot leave my home unless it is a medical emergency or I need to buy basic food or medicinal supplies, which must be done at the nearest store, and I must carry paperwork to have the right to do that. I cannot see friends or family, every non-essential shop has been shuttered, but wait, even restaurants? In Italy? Yes.  So, I stay home, along with 60 million fellow citizens, and we wait and hope. It is all we can do. We watch the number of infected cases of the virus climb, and reassure each other that this must happen before the peak is reached, before things will get better.  There will be a positive outcome, we tell ourselves, we will recover.

And then we hear that more countries in the world are heavily infected, and the same strict restrictions in Italy are now being put in place in other countries.  A pandemic is officially declared.  We are no longer 60 million citizens going through this, and I realize we never were – it is the whole world.  And we don’t know where we are headed.

And yet I am calm.  Because I think that this virus will touch everyone, and finally we will realize that we are a global community.  And the disaster that this virus is causing affects all of us, but unlike cancer, the outcome is in our hands.  This is our chance to step forward and create a better world, one of global solidarity.

With love from Italy –

Anita Iaconangelo

11 thoughts on “Locked Down in Italy: Day 4 – A Sense of Calm

  1. Dear Anita and Emanuele, It has been many years since my husband and I travelled with you on 3 or so fabulous trips. You graciously found a spot for us in Tuscany walk immediately after a Cinque Terre walk with you when we were headed to Sicily but ran into a thief that unsettled us. Ron passed away 10 years ago this May 20 on our 50th wedding anniversary from multiple myeloma. It was tough time for all and I can appreciate your own challenges with cancer. When we are down at the bottom of the barrel, the climb back up is hard but the joy of getting there and seeing that glorious light is nothing short of stupendous. I think of you and the time this will give you for reflexion. I have moved to a city 2 hours drive north of Toronto and live right on Georgian Bay with it’s wild storms and calm sunrises. It is fabulous. Anita with your Canadian roots, I hope to stir some if your emotions and lovely memories. Winter is ending a bit soon for us, this virus is in full swing but we are not in complete lockdown yet. I have time to get out my photos of fabulous trips with you and fabulous cooking. You are in my heart with lots of love.

    1. Dear Joan, Thank you so much for your heartfelt note. We remember you and Ron very well, and the great times we shared togther. Ron had such a great laugh, and we recall a wine-filled lunch in a trattoria in Noto where he broke into song! It sounds like you live in a beautiful place and I am happy to hear that you have re-found joy in your life since losing Ron. Emanuele continues to cook for me, and now we are living day to day until this, too, shall pass. Stay well. Anita

  2. Absolutely beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. It is very much appreciated that you are thinking of us as we in Western Australia a remote part of the world are thinking of you in these very uncertain times.
    My parents were from San Stino di Livenza so I feel my italian heritage comes to the fore when I hear any news from Italy and the news hasn’t been so good recently. But like you I feel we are all in this together and we will come out of this situation and the world will be a better place. Lots of love to you and your family xxx Marina

    1. Dear Marina, Thank you so much for taking the time to write. We love Australians and hope to visit your country some day. But for now, we are living day to day, and wish you all the best. Stay well. Anita

    1. Hi Joe and Jane – Thank you for your note. We have good memories of traveling with you both. Right now, we are taking it day by day, and are so lucky to live in the quiet countryside with a garden. Emanuele is cooking a lot, and I bake and write. Being quarantined can be a break from stres in many ways! Take care, stay well, and hope to see you again. Anita

  3. Anita, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Walking trips with Italian Connections were some of my favorite vacations. It is distressing to see what is happening in Italy, and to wonder what awaits all of us. I hope we will finally realize we are a global community and work together to solve this.

    1. Thank you for your heartfelt response. We fully intend to come back from thi, though as yet do not know how….we are taking it one day at a time. We hope to travel with you again through our beautiful Italy. Anita

  4. Anita and Emanuele, I’ve been following news of Covid-19 in the Italian press for several weeks, and it has been truly frightening. Yesterday, Montgomery County, PA, where I live, closed all schools, colleges and universities, entertainment venues and fitness centers. Two shopping malls near me also closed. Thank you for your thoughts on remaining calm when life looks bleak and the importance of creating a world of solidarity. Be well. Maria

    1. Thank you for your note, Maria. We are alright, and staying in touch with our friends and family. We can hardly wait for this to be over with so we can all just have dinner together! In the meantime, Emanuele cooks for us, I bake and write. We will get through this, and so will you! Stay well. Anita

  5. Anita. Didn’t know about your cancer. Been there too. Know exactly the feeling… eleven years ago.. When they tell you the news and you just want to hide because there is not much that you are in control of. But suddenly all the strength comes from within and there
    You are, resilient, trying to make the best out of what you’ve got!!! Try to take advantage of the delicious cooking of Emanuel ( no capuchino after lunch of course!!) and you bake and enjoy your reading. I sincerely hope we all get over this soon. It’s like a nightmare!! Love from Costa Rica Sandra and Samy

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