As of last night, March 11, 2020, Giuseppe Conte ordered even more restrictions on the citizens of Italy. Those restrictions include closing down restaurants and bars, which were already operating under strict guidelines, and closing everything else with the exception of medical offices, post offices, banks, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Interestingly, tobacco/newstands are also still allowed to operate.

A sign on swing sets in my neighborhood park stating the park is closed.

Conte appealed to the civic duty of Italians. In order to protect the most vulnerable, he called on citizens to respect the ordinance and stay at home as much as possible. Every evening the Dipartimento della Protezione Civile reports the day’s numbers. Yesterday’s numbers are staggering: 12,462 cases in the whole country, with 827 deaths. Here in Lombardy there are 7,280 cases and 617 deaths. Just since my last post the number of cases have increased by 3,290 and deaths have increased by 210. Most of those deaths have occurred here in Lombardy.

This piazza is usually full of life; both young and old gather here but today it’s eerily silent.

The local news is full of stories about tragedy; fairly young people (40s and 50s) in ICU, the lack of hospital beds and ventilators, and the new sad norm of the elderly dying alone because their loved ones are not allowed to be at their side for fear of infection. Those same families are then told they can’t have proper funerals to honor their dead.

A line of people waiting to enter the grocery store. Stores are open but they only allow a small amount of people in a time.

When there is so much bad news and the only sound outside is that of the occasional ambulance, it’s tempting to panic and live in fear. Here are some things I’ve been doing to help my mental health:

  1. Pray – I’m a Christian and prayer is a huge source of comfort. I can go to my heavenly Father and tell him all that concerns me and pray for others. He listens and is sovereign over all. I trust that I belong to him in body and soul, both in life and in death.
  2. Read the Psalms – At such a time as this the Psalms are like a healing balm. Lately, Psalms 23, 46, 91, and 121 are favorites.
  3. Gardening – I’ve planted fresh flowers that were for sale at the grocery store and put them on my window sill so I have something pretty to look at.
  4. Studying Italian – I have more time to dedicate to my studies. It’s great that my tutor is available via Skype.
  5. Walking and bike riding – We’re not prohibited from taking a walk or biking so long as we don’t do it in groups and stay a meter away from others. Yesterday was a beautiful day so I went on a hour long bike ride.
  6. Trying new recipes – I got an air fryer a few weeks ago and it’s been fun to try new things. My favorite so far are bacon-wrapped mushrooms. Yum!
  7. Turning off the TV and listening to Motown – Motown makes everything better.
The view from my window.

As I think about what the next few weeks holds for us here in Lombardy, I remember the wise words of Elizabeth Elliot, “When you don’t know what to do next, just do the next thing.” Meals needs to be prepared, the floor must be mopped, and laundry awaits.

  1. Dear Janie…Ciao!

    I hope you and your family are staying healthy. I have been reading your extremely informative, sometimes disheartening news (about the spread of the virus in Italy), heartfelt and well-written posts on the Mamma in Milan blog. It is great that you can keep us personally posted from one of the epicenters of the worldwide disruption. Here in SD there are various opinions about the virus…and not necessarily founded in fact. As you can guess, some people are freaked out, while others are not concerned. That’s why your updates are so welcome. I, too, am impressed by Italy’s “action” and ability to work together for the greater cause…the health and welfare of the populace.

    Funny, (ironic?) I had intended to write to you months ago about your wonderful posts, but never found the time to sit down and compose. However, your post this morning with your suggestions about “what to do during this uncertain time” moved me to write. It was excellent advice and basically all we can and should to at this time. We must continue on…keeping our spirit alive, exercising, cooking (this is how I relax and feed my soul ((and Dave)), being immersed in nature. I loved the pansies on your window. Domenica and I used to go to Weidner’s Gardens in Leucadia and dig up the pansies to bring home and plant in colorful pots. So beautiful and cheery.

    On your advice, I think I will take the time to study my Italian. I haven’t studied since I returned from Lucca (Oct. 2019!) I have recently submitted my Family History to an agency (IDC based in Northern Italy) for the possibility of Italian Dual Citizenship. It appears I am eligible through my mom’s family line…both my Nonni immigrated from Verona, Italy, in approximately 1919-1920. Since they did not naturalize in the U.S. until 1944, and my mom was born in 1930, and I was born after 1948, I am eligible. The sequence of the dates is critical. They will determine exactly what documents I need to procure and present to the Italian Consulate. Only drawback is that we live in the Los Angeles jurisdiction and I would need to apply to that particular consulate. I was informed there was a 3 year wait to obtain an appointment. However, that was BEFORE all this corona virus episode started, so perhaps the timeframe has changed?

    I hope you and your family continue to remain healthy. I look forward to visiting with you one day in Milan… Con affetto, Elena (Burgeno-Berman)


    1. Ciao Elena!

      Great to hear from you! Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you’ve found my recent posts helpful. Three weeks ago we thought the government was over reacting to this virus. Now we understand the gravity of it and why the government has taken such swift action. I really pray that you all in the US will be spared the chaos that Italy is enduring.

      If I had Italian blood as you do, I’d pursue dual citizenship. Yes, it’s a long and complicated ordeal but if you plan on spending more time here, it’s worth the trouble. My advice on dealing with the LA Consulate is be prepared. Read the website carefully, have your ducks in a row, and be ready for your patience to be tried. Verona is one of my favorite places! That whole area has so much to offer.

      Thanks again for reaching out. Say hello to your marito for me. Yes, the next time you’re here, I will give you a private tour!

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