Dispatch 4: Severa & Luigi, Two Old Lovers from Albino, in Italy’s New Red, Red Zone

Albino, Lombardy, lies in the Red, Red Zone. A town north of Bergamo located in a valley of the Orobie Alps, Albino is picturesque. Evergreen clad mountains with snowy, slate peaks hover while the Serio river tumbles through, carrying run-off from the ski slopes forty kilometers away. Pretty stone bridges span the river and connect the two banks. In the spring and summer, cedar boxes with geraniums decorate windows and wrought iron balconies. In the fall and winter, you might find purple heather and holly.

This is where Severa Belotti and Luigi Carrara lived. A housewife, she was 82. A construction worker, he was 86. Married for over sixty years, with children and grandchildren living close by, sometime in February they, together with many other of their townspeople (60 as of March 10), fell sick with the coronavirus. Although both Severa and Luigi were in good health with no particular problems other than age, they spent eight days quarantined at home, with fevers of 102 and higher. Medical personnel couldn’t visit, but tried to help them nevertheless (over the phone?). When they took a turn for the worse this past weekend, they were brought to the overrun Pope Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo. Luigi died yesterday at 9:30; Severa shortly after, at 11:00.

“I’m not angry,” said their son, Luca Carrara. “I’m just so sad […] Your loved ones are alone and you can’t visit them, hug them, try to comfort them even with a white lie: ‘don’t worry, you’ll make it.’ People have to understand that they need to stay home, because while they keep telling us that the victims are old, and already ill, when it’s your parents, it’s devastating.”

Adapted and quoted from Corriere della Sera, March 11, 2020.

“People, time to come together by staying apart; social distancing is social solidarity. We are in this together and how we get out of this depends on our care for each other. No matter how robust you are, you have an obligation to those who are not, as do I, to limit the spread of the disease by avoiding unnecessary mingling, contact, circulation, travel, and crowding.

Rebecca Solnit, Facebook, March 11, 2020

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