Dispatch 1—We’re Now the World’s Red Zone in Lombardy, Italy

On line at Esselunga Supermarket, Rubattino, Milan, Italy

We’ve mostly been in a state of denial for two weeks, here in Milan. We thought this wasn’t critical, that we were going to get better soon, that we weren’t going to end up like Wuhan.

We stayed home in the beginning, but then, when we got tired of staying home, we went out.

This is what’s circulating online right now.

“I escaped the Red Zone / Aperitivo-dinner in the city center to vanquish (coronavirus) fear”

Meanwhile, the numbers of the ill kept climbing.

Now, on Sunday, March 8, we find we’re in a red zone. We’re quarantined. We can’t leave Lombardy. If we do, the penalty is 3 months in prison.

We can still shop for food, although authorities advise that only one member per family venture forth. This morning at Essenlunga supermarket, my husband went alone. He found people were let in, through the turnstiles, a few at a time. Those who waited their turns, stood in an orderly fashion, actually leaving space between themselves and the next person. This is unheard of in Italy. Here we usually line up like a knot of unruly school kids.

My husband found there was a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables. Still no sign of masks, no gels. Pasta could be had, at a discount, along with jars of tomato sauce. There is always one brand or another of pasta on sale at Esselunga. That this was still the case this morning was comforting.

Although today is International Women’s Day the usual festive vibe is missing.

No one is selling sprigs of yellow mimosa at street corners. No one is making plans to go out tonight. Usually groups of women go out for a pizza and prosecco and toast each other.

There are messages though on Whatsapp:

These are difficult days for everyone but today a thought for all women must not be forgotten. Happy International Women’s Day to all women, mothers, friends, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, wives!

I’m feeling a little chilly, sitting here at my desk. I’ve measured my temperature; it’s normal. I suppose you can’t help wanting to measure your temperature from time to time, to make sure you’re still healthy when you’re living in a red zone.

14 thoughts on “Dispatch 1—We’re Now the World’s Red Zone in Lombardy, Italy

  1. Saw woman— Trump supporter—on TV. She says this virus stuff is a Democratic hoax. She believes none of it.

    Guess she’s not washed her hands.

  2. Oh, my, Natalia. Even though it feels so extreme and intense, it strikes me as more sensible than the current U.S. tactic which seems to be only to hope for the best. I do hate how the fear of it creeps in in spite of our best intentions. I have a feeling letting go of the fear again and again needs to be my main task. Wishing you all the best in this endeavor and the whole of it, too! Thank you for your post and updates.

  3. Thank you for reporting. In the US people seem to be a) speculating wildly and trading the latest news or b) trying to be sensible and soldiering on or c) scariest of all—denouncing scientists and doctors and proclaiming their assessment of the virus to be ‘fake news.’ I waver between a) and b) and have trouble imagining what’s in store for us. Please take care and be well.

  4. May you stay safe, even if it means not going out. I get it. I love traveling, being out in public here at home and feeling fulfilled. Sometimes, though, it is best to stay in place and wait things out.

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