May The 4th Be With Italy

And so, today, we switched back on. Not every shop or every profession, but several million Italians are back in business and at their desks. 

Our cities have been slowly coming back to life for the he past couple of weeks, and today they eventually lost that unique, almost sacred look of meaningful emptiness that we will miss while also celebrating its demise. 

I was a bit emotional when I greeted the owners of the kebab shop and the pizzeria around the corner who reopened today, albeit for takeaway only. It was like seeing a long-lost friend, somebody you thought you might never meet again, a collateral damage of the pandemic, who will hopefully weather the storm of the new economic and social normal. Which looks much scarier than the lockdown now!

Gone are statements like Everything will change! Everything is the same – but uglier, with masks, gloves, queues in front of every shop and supermarket, long lines to get on a bus, no place to enjoy live culture or art, dreadful financial prospects for many family and businesses, and, still, very much unreal.

And yet, every key indicator (contagion, ICUs occupancy, deaths) shows that we hammered that freakin’ curve, that the lockdown did reach its goal. We did it. We managed what looked so difficult. And so we must now with some confidence wade into a new uncertainty – en masse, with byzantine rules about whom we are allowed to visit, and very much unsure about what will happen when cases will rise again, or if a second wave hits, and with no sense of the herculean task ahead of changing a whole educational system in just a matter of months…

So, for now, the known unknowns – the real contagion rate and the number of asymptomatic cases – mandate a very cautious approach. 

And the lack of a systematic and well-communicated tracing, testing, and treatment protocol suggests that isolation and social distancing is, for those who can afford it, still the most sensible and responsible way forward  – especially if I want to keep visiting my parents (they are still ok!).

Plus, with schools closed and telework still mandatory, we can keep on with our very limited but comfortable schedule – Alex is whizzing through his online exams and Anna through her online classes, as if that’s what they have been doing for their education all along.

On the plus side, we do get to enjoy walks and bike rides. We are having a stunningly beautiful spring weather.  And as we all know, hope springs eternal!


The sign of my neighborhood kebab joint, owned by a Kurdish refugee family. Was glad to see them reopen today, and am looking forward to their fabulous kebabs.

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