March 15, 2020

Taken at 0619 this morning from my bedroom

Its day 13 for me in #SplendidIsolation and to say the least, it’s been an interesting time.

An enormous shout out to the hundreds of people who have enquired after my wellbeing. If anyone tells you social media doesn’t work, or that your posts are limited to 25 people, don’t believe them. It’s simply not the truth. I’ve been inundated with wonderful messages of support from the four corners of the globe. Grazie mille my friends. I so appreciate you.

Only twice have I been past my driveway in these past 13 days – driving out of my village to a supermarket in the next town to buy food; fresh lovely Sicilian oranges to juice in the mornings, vegetables to bake and grill, salads to enjoy with almost every meal, firelighters for my fire which I light when it starts to get chilly, cheese, pancetta and prosciutto and a solitary bottle of vino. Not a single roll of loo paper. Niente. Nulla. Nada.  My Italian plumbers made much sense in installing 3 bidets many years ago.

I’ve been shocked by the crazy and selfish gobbling up of supermarket shelves in Australia and now some parts of the UK. Especially in Australia. My countrymen and women so wonderfully pulled together for the greater good in January when such terrible fires ravaged the country and now they couldn’t give a toss for their neighbour who might be too old or too frail or too busy getting their kids off to school so they can earn a living to get to the supermarkets at dawn.

On the other hand, I’ve been in tears a dozen times watching the amazing spirit of the Italians. Whoever thought up the notion of the 6pm, and then the 12 noon ‘get out on your balcony and make music’ ought to get the highest honour this country issues.  This is the stuff of heroes in a time of complete lock down. Whether it’s been kids banging pots and pans, or amazing opera singers who we’d pay hundreds of Euros to see at La Scala, or just mum and dad waving the Italian flag, it’s been extraordinary.  Tonight, #Flashmob has urged Italians up and down the country to light up their windows at 9pm so we can be seen in space.  To hell with the electricity bill, I have a dozen windows facing down my valley and every one of them will be lit up tonight.

I am allowed out to go to the supermarket. To the pharmacy. To the doctor. But if I go out of my Comune (town hall area) then I have to have a Self-Authorised Declaration to show to the polizia or else I could end up with a criminal record. As my Comune has no supermarket, this paper stays in my bag when I venture out. Probably, because I am in a remote village, I can go for a walk as my neighbour does, in the woods but I have so far desisted. If I go in a car, there can only be two people, one front and one back. And in the supermarkets there are lines drawn with tape on the floors marking how far you must be away from the next person.

Duct tape on the floor at the supermarkets

My daily routine is pretty similar. Sometimes I wake up to a beautiful dawn, as I did today, sometimes not, as it is still spring and some days are cold and misty.

I am immensely thankful for my brand new boiler, King George, which stands proudly beside the luscious red Queen Mary in my cellar, good for 32 years but who retired from, at least the hot water stakes, at the end of last year. I have a long hot shower, put on something comfortable and oil my face with the magic elixir from the Istanbul Spice Market. I can hear my skin applauding a month of no make-up. Or maybe longer, who knows?

Breakfast is my yummiest treat of the day: freshly squeezed Sicilian oranges, crunchy pancetta, sometimes a rich yellow egg, sometimes mushrooms although they are in short supply at my supermarket, and sometimes fried up veggies from the night before.  Toast, from wonderful bread made by my neighbour, with my long black …. if its sunny, on the little Linda Balcony, named after my darling girl Linda Blair who contracted lung cancer and left us almost 2 years ago. I think of her often; her damaged lungs would be a worry at this time, and I feel her sending me love and strength, saying, ‘you’ll be fine darling, I’m glad I didn’t have to go through this.’

Breakfast this morning in wonderful sunshine

The day goes on. I read; I potter in the garden if it’s a nice day, digging up a few weeds and envisioning my planting when spring really comes and I can actually shop for baby vegetables; I’ve done the ironing, and I set the fire to be lit about 4.30 each day.

I’ve spent a large amount of time on social media – too much probably – but there are so many caring people out there and I’ve loved the humour in the face of this crisis. Posts on Tinder of a goofy looking guy surrounded by piles of loo paper as his pull to a bird! Its pure gold! And with my Brits in Italy group who formed to support each other during the Brexit crisis (as indeed it has been for many) and who now connect hour by hour to share experience and wisdom and humour and their personal fears about businesses going under and family illness at home in the UK which they can do nothing about.

I’ve spent time connecting with my generous step daughter in Oz who, with a heart of gold, is arranging a movement to support her street and has already put loo paper in the ‘library’ she set up on her fence ages ago.  This is a time when resourcefulness becomes one’s greatest resource.

My internet based TV is overloaded because of #iostoacasa (I’m staying at home) which is the official hashtag, and I can’t watch anything. But hey, I have a thousand books and 400 DVD’s and I can always stare into the fire and contemplate my good fortune to have chosen this country, which has taken such a strong stance, in the face of economic disarray for a long time, to protect its citizens: mandatory with the second oldest population in the world.

So Day 13, and another 10, at least to go.  I’ve got 6 flights booked over the next 2 months and wonder if I will take any of them or whether I’ll get my money back. Che sará sará…whatever will be, will be.  I worry about the Italian tourist industry in particular. There is nothing I can do but spend, once we can get out again. Perhaps I’ll cancel all those flights and stay at home, here, in my adopted paradiso, spending my Euros where the people I have come to love will benefit most.

It’s a challenging time globally. I read of the situation in Britain and in Australia especially, where my dearest friends and family are and wonder how their various policies will work. Or not. It’s a time of fear for many and we must understand that fear breaks down the immune system and when, combined with selfishness, becomes the second virus.

Stay well, my friends. This is a game changer. Be sensible and be positive and connect. Connect with people, ask them how they are, give what you can and enjoy the peace of being alone. Listen to the birds singing and the church bells chiming. This too will pass.

From #CoronaCentral  #SplendidIsolation  #IoStoACasa

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