Self Isolation: Italian Style

Just adding my own thoughts to the many many already existing blog posts, Instagram posts, newspaper articles, TikTok videos, Facebook posts etc. that already exist regarding the current world health dilemma. Hope you enjoy what's happening in my head!

I saw the first impacts of COVID-19 back in early February.  February was supposed to packed with work travel, I had 6 or 8 electronic tickets sitting in my Apple Wallet, eager to be scanned at Rome Fiumicino.  Berlin, Istanbul and Dubai were waiting, and by February 15th, hopes of travelling to all were lost!

Instead, I welcomed the idea at being in my beloved Roma with no work travel scheduled for the foreseeable future.  I carried on life as I normally do, my home office routine, broken up by walks to the river or trips to the Testaccio Market, and bookended by long walks into the city center to find a new aperitivo spot or restaurant to meet at with friends. 

I knew the news buzzing around us was real, but despite that, my parents were due to arrive for a week of eating and fun, we had a half marathon to run, and our plans remained unchanged we just decided to wash our hands more frequently and avoid sick people.

La mezza maratona di Napoli was stupendous, we had the best and the most difficult time running the 13.1 most beautiful roads on the coastline of Naples, Vesuvius looking down at us and encouraging us to take just one more step.  We were exhausted when we finished, but accomplished! And now, our food and wine tour of Rome could commence, hell yeah!  All the while we tried to have a normal vacation, the media kept whispering in our ears... something is going on and shit is about to hit the fan.

Had the best week with my genitori as usually, laughs, walks, pasta, vino... REPEAT.

They left, and self quarantined in the states for 14 days due to the fact that they were returning to the states from an area of high infection.  The week following their return home, we continued to hear of the rising number of cases and deaths in the North, but the impact in Rome hadn't yet been felt and the PM of Italy hadn't put restrictions on the entire country yet, just on the most impacted regions in the north, the so-called "Zone Rosse".

I didn't actually do much that week as I was restauranted-out from the time with my parents. But Sunday I did manage a quick escape to Santa Marinella with Alex:

And then Monday, 9th March. Shit hit the fan!

I don't really know how to describe it, but by the time I had fallen asleep sunday evening, and woken up Monday morning, Italy had been filled with panic and a sense of urgency.  We were all listening. And that evening Conte went on the air around 9:30 pm and set the first wave of restrictions on mobility in place. I was calm as long as no one took my long wandering walks and runs on the Tevere away.  Most of Italy was freaking out, and there wasn't much to be said. I focused on myself, my well-being, and the little thing I could do to avoid exacerbating the problem, because the information was there, this thing is contagious and people are dying.

That week, I've walked and run more than I have in a LONG time! It was a beautiful week of weather. Sunny, warm, blue skies.  It was so great just wandering around or going on a long run on the banks of the Tevere, because frankly there wasn't much else to do.  I exchanged thoughts on the matter with my family, with my friends, with my boss.  Everyone remaining calm and remaining reasonable about the implications of what was going on. Avoid people, social distance, practice good hygiene, wash your hands, wash them again, etc. The week with the new normal ensued, we started talking by phone, facetime, whatsapp, video calls, skype, zoom, etc. to keep social and to see our friendly faces. I walked a crap ton alone and at a safe distance from others. I got stopped casually by carabinieri once, they just wanted to see if was close enough to my home, and then casually shooed away in the opposite direction from a carabinieri a second time while running on the Tevere.  No fines, no write ups. Just polite interactions to ensure I wasn't doing anything crazy!

Home Office
The following week, the week of 16th March, I kept questioning whether or not being alone outside was even an allowed thing to do! But for me, who has always worked at home since I've been on this side of the pond, knew that for my own sanity and health, running/walking alone was something I needed to continue to do, so I continued :) As no law came out explicitly stating otherwise.  To that point, work from home is something I've always done, so for me, the transition from an office to a home office, to learning new platforms etc., wasn't a challenge I had to tackle like many of my friends who had never worked from home full time, and especially for my teacher friends who were now trying to learn to manage a classroom of children virtually... so it wasn't a crazy difficult transition for me work wise as that remained the same as always. What was difficult, was that I hadn't realized how important my previous daily work from home routines had been.

Usually I start my day at the bar in Piazza Testaccio, where the Fratelli Capone serve me up a deliciously foam cappuccino for 1,00 euro, then hand me a chocolate filled fagottino for another 0,80 euro cents. They joke with their other morning customers, and I just sit there taking it all in, their accents, their jokes between each other and the clients, their amazing ability to remember the Dottore's order of caffe lungo al vetro, and the Tiziana's cappuccino caldissimo al banco and two cornetti to take away. The routine and the sociality of it all just makes me smile!  I get online at my home office desk by 9:00 or 9:15 usually and get to work.

Now my days are much different. There is a lot of pressure, blame and bullying going on in Italy and in the rest of the world now via social channels, so I've changed my ways a lot. Feels silly to have to feel guilted into staying inside my home 24/7, where there is no scientific proof that says, me, as an individual, stepping outside to take a walk in a safe manor, is threatening anyone. There is probably more evidence built up that would prove not doing it puts me in danger. Anyways, I continue to try and respect others and keep myself safe and sane by doing the small things I can.  I don't go on long runs on the Tevere, but I do make loops within a safe distance of my home in my neighborhood. I buy my wine online instead of going to the enoteca. I do make trips to the supermarket which is more than allowed, and I wear my gloves, disinfect and keep safe distances while I do. I speak with my friends in the US a lot more now that this situation has been brought also on them.  This is a wonderful bonus of the situation we've been put into. My friendships at home have never changed despite the fact I bail on them frequently to chase this thing called love I have for Italy. They are great, and we love each other and keep everything normal no matter how long we don't hear from each other because, well, LIFE. But, these weeks I get to talk with them frequently and I just cherish them so much.

Nonna Bella
The other perk is I have time to call my Nonna Vita. I've always called her on a semi regular basis, but now, since I know she is also more lonely and only accompanied by terrible news broadcasted across US and Italian TV channels, I make an effort to call her everyday and check in on her. For those who haven't set up an iPad to FaceTime or one of those smart call devices that older folks can figure out, check it out, because it has CHANGED my life being able to see my Nonna and chat with her over FaceTime while I am far away from her, and I think it has changed hers even more (I say a lot of stupid shit that makes her laugh).  We chat about nothing, the weather, how she's feeling, what the news said, what she is cooking, what I am cooking, what stupid things I've done during the day, and she teaches me sooo much! Italian words I never knew, and how to throw seemling random stuff in a bowl and make delicious carciofi or meatballs.  If you don't have an ingredient, who cares, just cook it some way and it's tutto buono. She appreciates good food for sure, but I think her WWII time makes it clear that, who cares if you don't have all the ingredients to make something perfectly, you improvise with what you have and if you're creative... in the end... e tutto buono :) God I love her and am so lucky to have her still. However, I do wish I had Nonno standing next to her to insert his corrections he feel are appropriate into whatever he has said, and I wish I could do the same with my Nonni and Grampy who I miss their kind kind kind souls so much in these days and just would love a nuggie and an over sugared ice coffee and a good game of gin rummy or rummikub together.

Throughout self-isolation so far, I've read zero books... some pages though. I bought acrylic paints and made a few prototypes on paper, but haven't had the balls to move to a canvas, because quite frankly, I suck, I am not artistic at all! I've jumped around like a crazy person in my bedroom with pizzica music blaring. I've celebrated two of my favorite people's birthday's over Zoom. I've only ordered take out once. I've participated in Zumba Live classes, led by my favorite Bolognese Zumba instructor. I've cooked a lot and a lot of pasta based dishes. Instagrammed for hours. Tried to complete a Booty by Brabants workout, nearly died. Spent hours video chatting with friends and family. Watched four whole movies, a couple FRIENDS re-runs, and am staying up to date with my Grey's Anatomy episodes... I feel like I should be more productive, but that's all I can say for now. Maybe in the self-isolation extension, phase 2, I will commit to putting acrylic on canvas despite the outcome, and catch up on my pages read. Vedremo!

Prime Minister Conte will re-evaluate the self-isolation rules after April 13th!

empty Testaccio streets 

Andra Tutto Bene :)

Until the next blog post which will probably consist of a list of restaurants and places I want to go when there is freedom again!