I went downtown yesterday, for the first time in six weeks. A few more shops have opened, and I needed a replacement for SodaStream (the one thing I missed during isolation!) So I was allowed to venture outside the 400m-limit currently imposed in my town for simple walks (a doubling from the initial 200m!)
It was a beautiful, melancholic walk through Bolzano’s quiet streets. It’s hot – as is normal now, we moved straight from winter into summer. Normally it would be difficult to move around in the city’s most narrow streets, as it would be the peak tourism season, before the crowds choose the mountains’ cool weather over our sizzling summer. Looking at all the empty outdoor tables I wondered if we will be able to welcome back visitors in a different way. Safer, for sure – this is what everybody is talking about. Tourism is too important for us and for Italy not to take this very seriously. But we cannot think only about how to limit its infection rates when we think about reopening tourism – we could also use this tragedy to think about how to limit overcrowding, exploiting nature to the point of no return, emptying the souls of our wonderful towns..
Tough day – 368 deaths today, over 20,000 infected, and, in other otherworldly news, Germany is closing its borders… It is very, very hard to look at Europe right now, with the tragedy unfolding across the continent and every leader handling things his or her own way… So one hopes against hope that all this will be temporary, but it takes a long time to build trust and only a moment to destroy it. When it is gone, how do your rebuild it? For instance, wil parents in the future have the same confidence that their Erasmus student will be able to travel back and forth freely across Europe, at any point in time?
There are currently no flights between London and Vienna, just one of many examples of flight suspensions, and there is no way to know when they will resume.
In all this mess, Alex has decided after much deliberating that he will bunker in London with a roommate, and weather the storm in the UK This only adds exponentially to the anxiety and heartbreak of these tragic times.
I hear that in DC people still go out and about. So am adding a chilling “show and tell” that has already circulated widely on social media: The obituary pages of the local newspaper in Bergamo, a town in Lombardy that has been hit particularly hard.
Stay home. Stay home again, and maybe a little bit more. Good night, and good luck.
Only a quick note tonight to say that we are ok. Everything looks quiet outside as well as very orderly. Supermarkets are well stocked I hear, like bakeries, produce shops, and so on. Life continues as well as it can in Bolzano, Alto Adige Südtirol, in the year of the pandemic.
I feel mentally exhausted – so am not adding more tonight, as I would only repeat what I said already, and I imagine that some of these are things you will now start seeing in your local news (bar the worst numbers, I pray).
A moving moment today: at midday in the whole country clapped from our balconies to show support for our medical staff. And you might have seen videos of people singing together across buildings as well. A wave of optimistic anxiety (something that a Danish sociologist said we should all need now) signaling that we are all fully aware of what is asked from us while supporting those on the front lines.
In the picture below: this is the closest I have been to my older sister this week. She visits my parents regularly, so we are being extra careful at keeping our distance … My other sister walks up to my door and we chat briefly from afar …
But yes – everything will be alright, like doctors keep telling us, if we do our part … Optimistic anxiety indeed.