People in the United States are waking up to the news about a containment zone in New York State. I know how you feel. Here in Italy, we are weeks ahead of you. Just last week Rome was very quiet but the thinking was if you can come visit, please do. Things changed quickly.
On Saturday I flew to London for a travel conference. I see now in retrospect that I was cavalier about how serious this virus and its knock-on effects were. I woke up in the middle of the night to the news about severe restrictions in Lombardy and the Veneto. It soon progressed into the declaration of a complete nationwide lockdown. On Facebook the other day I talked about how we like to make fun of Italy and the general chaos of everyday life here but make no mistake, when it comes to a crisis you want the Italians making the plan. Italy has been extremely organized in its response.
My time in London had a surreal quality. My pal Agnes put it best. I too felt like I was a few episodes ahead on a television show wanting to shout at everyone to stand a meter apart and to stop touching everything. I canceled my meetings and got one of the very last flights from London to Rome.
When I landed, Fiumicino airport and Termini train station were almost empty. My street which is normally very busy and full of people in wine bars and restaurants was shuttered and silent at 9pm on Tuesday evening. Mark is teleworking from the guest room. We have all been asked to stay at home only leaving (alone) to grocery shop or take walks. We must keep at least a meter away from each other and everything shuts at 6pm. This article explains why doing this is so important in containing the effects of the virus.
Your plans have probably been dramatically altered too but while we wait, there is plenty that you can do to help Italy during the Coronovirus lockdown.
How you can help Italy during the Coronovirus lockdown
Here on my blog, I will share resources and ways you can help businesses all over Italy.
People to follow for daily, on the ground updates
Mountain Butorac, the Catholic Traveler
Elyssa Bernard, Romewise
Agnes Crawford, Understanding Rome
Abbie Stark, Devour Tours
Jennie Oh, Jennie Oh Crafts, Sustainable contemporary studio ceramics
Georgette Jupe, Girl in Florence
Tracy Russo, Dolce Vida Photography
Venice by Bridge
Tours to Take in Rome, Florence, and VeniceTour guides have lost months of business. If you can, plan a trip to Italy and book a tour.
Cassandra at Travel Italian Style can help you plan an itinerary.
Walks of Italy i
Plan ahead and book a week in Naples with Culinary Backstreets for October. Use the code gillianslists for a discount.
Artist Kelly Medford gives sketching tours in Rome
Molly McIlwrath offers custom family tours and workshops in and near Florence
Explore Florence (or Rome or Venice with art historian Alexandra Lawrence
In Venice take a cichetti tour or a cooking class with Monica Cesarato
Explore the Venetian lagoon in your own electric boat rented from Classic Boats Venice
Cook in Capri with Holly and Gianluca with their new interactive cookbook and a bottle of Caprese wine.
Private tours with Clam Tours
Italian businesses and artisans who offer online shoppingIf you can not travel you can shop!
Order coffee from Sant’Eustachio
Stock your Italian pantry with pasta from Gustiamo and wine and tomatoes from Ristorante Michel’Angelo
Add some Ponzese sparkle to your life with a piece from Cala Corallo
Cook Italian with books from my good pals Elizabeth Minchilli (her daughter has a book coming out soon too!) Valeria Neccio (her daily updates from the hard-hit Veneto are thoughtful and important viewing) and Maria Pasquale. Carla Tomasi is sharing what she cooks and bakes on Instagram
Artisans in VeniceVenice has been hit particularly hard, first with the severe damage after the November Acqua Grande and now the Coronavirus Italy travel restrictions. These are artisans I personally know and whose I work I have bought. This is just the start. Check out the lists compiled by Dream of Venice and Natural Epicurean for more.
Pieces of Venice - Handcrafted items made from recycled bricole from the Venetian Lagoon
PlumPlum Creations - Prints and etchings
Eredi Jovon - Handcrafted cameos
Alessia Fuga - Handblown glass beads and jewelry
Paper Owl - Intricate paper jewelry and gifts
Thank you for all of your sweet messages of solidarity and concern. In the meantime, I am #iorestoacasa (staying at home following the Italian government's instructions) but the sun is shining, my pantry is full of pasta and passata and I have plenty of Campari for negronis. I look forward to keeping connected here in the virtual world and hopefully very soon, in person, here in Rome.