Flaiano, a great italian satirical writer, wrote once, describing the political
situation in Italy during the 50s: “The situation is desperate but not
serious”. His words, always quoted and misquoted in Italy about practically
everything, apply to the current coronavirus emergency as well. The situation
is desperate: you all have seen images of cities and roads empty and lonely
with shops shut and no people around.
yesterday nobody has been allowed to go out except for urgent and necessary
reasons: medical checks, shopping food, and going to work if it is not possible
to work from home.
If you go
out you must carry a form downloaded from the Interior Ministry website where
you declare was absolutely necessary for you to leave the house. The hashtag
#iorestoacasa (I stay at home) is trending in Italy and famous actors and
singers are advertising it on TV.
shops open are supermarkets, pharmacies and tobacconists (because there you can
also pay bills). Public offices and banks are open, but they allow people to
enter only after checking that there's enough space to ensure one meter
distance. Same for supermarkets, where you see people queuing for a couple of
hundred meters because we are allowed to enter only one by one.
remind the older people of the queues during World War II, along with the
scarcity of goods. And this is not because goods are not being supplied but
because people are stocking food in their houses like during wartime.
Yes, it is
a national emergency but I don't want to talk of despair. I prefer to tell you
how we Italians are coping and why for us it is “desperate but not serious.”
The sale of
flour has increased by 82% in the past few days. It is understandable. You are
stuck at home and there are little children around: what do you do all day
beside watching TV, reading a book, or place the child in front of television?
Bake! Bake a cake, bake biscuits, bake a pizza. The child is happy and busy for
a while helping, and the house smells good.
in lockdown, bake a pizza!
baking pizza almost every day, and some bread too. And I’ve been cooking,
cooking, and cooking.
We all have
started to send around funny Whatsapp messages and jokes. Like this one, from
Naples, in which somebody would hire a Chinese with cough to skip queues at the
post office! Or that other one depicting a lady with moustache and chubby
are closed and so are beauty parlours. Don't even talk of gyms! The most
practised sport is eating: we'll end up being overweight and looking quite
uncouth. In theory, you could go out for 'open air sport activities' like
jogging, but nobody does.
making little children draw rainbows and sending them via Whatsapp to their
friends: hashtag “everything will be all right”. We are trying not to scare
them telling ugly stories on why they cannot go to the park and meet their
watched ‘Life is Beautiful’? Our lives are something like that. We have
rediscovered or, better, discovered, the neighbours. Shopping food for the old
ladies upstairs or sending just one person to shop food for two-three families.
there's the front called ‘love in the times of coronavirus’. In the past days a
certain number of people have been stopped and fined because they could not
give explanations for their trip outside the house. Truth came out later: they
were clandestine lovers that could not resist being away from each other after
being forced to stay home all day with their respective spouses.
walking together have been advised by police to go home and anyway keep a meter
of distance. Cafes have been closed to prevent young kids from going out and
share hugs and a 'Corona' beer in the squares. Yesterday a small group of old
people was sent back home because they were playing cards sitting outside the
house even though they were keeping a regular distance. Daily life has been
affected, yes, but we try to see the bright side of it.
of ‘Decameron’, a fourteenth century book written by Giovanni Boccaccio and
usually studied (and hated) in schools, have gone up like it was the latest
Harry Potter. It is the story of a group of friends locking themselves up in a
villa just outside Florence during a plague epidemic, and telling stories day
and night for ten days to entartain each other.
think it’s a good idea to do the same, others are having get-togethers on
Skype: wine or drinks, and a conference call with friends, each one in his own
house but pretending to go on as usual.
even started a new kind of flash mob, and we'll go on doing it. At six in the
afternoon we open our windows and balconies and start singing together.
Ordinary people, famous singers, even the opera divas: all croon in a chorus.
We sing the national anthem or Italian songs we all know and love.
six in the afternoon, we’ll be singing an old 60s song called ‘Azzurro’ (Blue).
The blue of our sky, the blue of hope. The situation outside might be
desperate, but, like many things in Italy, it is not serious. Not because we
don't take it seriously, but because we love life. And friends, and being
together. And making lemonade when life is giving you lemons is one of the
things we do better. And as we say in Italy, “Ashtag
Marino is a journalist and a South Asia expert who has written ‘Apocalypse
Pakistan’ with B Natale. This is a personal blog, and the views expressed above
are the author’s own. New Age Islam neither endorses nor is responsible for
Headline: Coronavirus in Italy: How Pizza & Songs Are Keeping Everyone Sane
Source: The Quint