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.
Sunday morning I woke to the news that all of Lombardia and most of northern Italy was on lockdown. The “red zone” which was previously limited to 11 towns where the outbreak was concentrated, was expanded to include Lombardia and other provinces here in the north. As of yesterday morning, the ENTIRE country has been placed on lockdown. The number of cases has risen to 9,172 and sadly the number of deaths has risen to 463.
This evening the Italian government just announced that ALL schools in Italy (the entire country!) will be closed until March 15. My son is on his second week at home from school. Thankfully, his school has organized lessons online. Many of us living here in Northern Italy were hopeful that schools would reopen next Monday and that life would return to some resemblance of normalcy. As of today, the total number of cases here is 2706, with 107 fatalities, most of which are here in Lombardy.
In need of comfort food this last week, I instinctively turn to risotto. For me risotto is the perfect comfort food. It’s warm, rich, creamy and can turn a bad day into a holiday. Risotto is king here in the north of Italy. The Po valley is one the world’s most famous rice production areas so it’s no wonder risotto is a specialty of the north.
What’s one to do when things shut down due to the Coronavirus? Try a new recipe! Last week will be remembered in Milanese history as the week the Coronavirus outbreak shut down the city and most of Northern Italy. It was a tense week as most folks stayed indoors, watching the news and trying to wrap our heads around what was happening. The week unfolded like a Sci-fi movie plot: no one in the streets, people stockpiling supplies, a rising death toll, and unscrupulous people taking advantage of others. So with more time on my hands and a desire to escape the constant barrage of bad news, I headed to the kitchen.
Sunday morning our world changed in the Milan metro area in ways that we would have never anticipated. Cases of the Coronavirus were diagnosed in towns outside of Milan and those towns were put on lock down, no one in and no one out. As I digested the news, more news arrived. The governor of Lombardy issued an ordinance for the whole region: no university classes, no school, no sporting events, no performances, no cinema, no religious meetings and no public or private meetings of any kind. Then it snowballed into museums, libraries, public offices, etc., all closed.