As of yesterday the number of cases of COVID-19 in Italy reached 105,792 with 12,428 deaths. Here in Lombardy there are 43,208 cases, and 7,199 deaths. As bleak as those numbers are there has been one encouraging sign in the last few days. Yesterday we saw the lowest amount of new cases in the last 13 days. Although the number of deaths continues to hover between 700 to almost 1,000 a day, the rate of infection has slowed down. On March 21 there was a daily increase of 6,557 new cases. Yesterday, March 31, there were 4,053 new cases.

The experts tell us the reduction in new cases is a sign of two things: first, the lockdown measures are working and second, it signals we are close to a decline in the number of deaths. In other words, we are finally at the much anticipated peak. Sadly, here everyone knows someone who is sick, or worse, someone who has died. It is a relief that we are finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel.

As we enter into week five of the lockdown, I find myself day-dreaming of places I’d like to visit once we are able to travel again. One of the places I’d like to return to is the town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore. Stresa is a beautiful resort town which is bustling with vacationers from all over Europe in the spring and summer months. Just a week before the virus outbreak, my family and I visited Stresa for the first time. The town mostly shuts down in winter and given that tourism had, by February, slowed significantly,it was virtually empty when we visited. Aside from being a quaint town with glorious lake views and grand hotels, there are three little islands a short boat ride from town worth exploring. These islands, bought by the powerful Borromeo family in the 1600s, were originally just clumps of rocks which were transformed into livable places. The most famous island, Isola Bella, named after Isabella Borromeo, is where the Borromeos have their summer palace along with a magnificent garden. Unfortunately, the day we visited, Isola Bella was closed but we were still able to take a short boat ride to Isola dei Pescatori (Island of the Fishermen).

Isola dei pescatori and Stresa, lake maggiore

We were blessed with sunshine and clear skies.
Isola dei Pescatori is a small collection of houses, restaurants and fishing boats.
The highlight of my son’s day was skipping rocks on the water.
The island’s little empty alleyways are a photographer’s dream.
The pedestrian streets of Stresa are generally empty in winter.

While this lockdown continues, I’m looking forward to returning to Stresa and I’ll continue to day-dream and plan future trips to explore “Il bel paese.”

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