During quarantine, I made a list of places I’d like to visit once we were allowed to travel. At the top of my list is a place that’s only an hour’s drive from Milan. It’s the kind of place that is so beautiful, so scenic, that I’m mesmerized by it every time I visit.
This week brought horrific losses here in Lombardy. Yesterday, there were 627 deaths in Italy, the highest number yet. Sadly, this brings the number of deaths in Italy to 4,032, making Italy the country with the most deaths attributed to Coronavirus.
Of the 47,021 cases of Coronavirus, 22,264 of them have occurred here in Lombardy. To date, the hardest hit provinces with the most deaths are Bergamo (5,154), Brescia (4,648), and Milan (3,804). This week there have been so many deaths in the town of Bergamo that the Italian army has been called in to transport coffins (see the videos below). Morgues are full, cemeteries are at the brink, and because of the stringent measures in place prohibiting gatherings, the dead do not get the funeral they deserve. Mourning families who weren’t allowed to be at the bedside of their loved one, not allowed to comfort and reassure them as they suffered through their last moments, are left doubly heartbroken.
Last night the Protezione Civile, who hold a daily press conference announcing the dreaded COVI-19 numbers of the day, announced that the “peak” they anticipated would happen by Sunday, March 22, is nowhere in sight. They don’t know, they can’t predict when it will come.
The mood here in Lombardy has shifted from laughing at funny quarantine videos and singing on balconies, to that of shock, disbelief and grieving. As I write this, a friend is in the hospital, gasping for air, fighting COVID-19 alone. He is my age with a wife and two young children. Another friend, mother of 7, and her teenage son have the symptoms of the virus, fever and cough. Not a good sign, but I’m hopeful they’ll only have a mild case.
As the death toll climbs the government is cracking down on its citizens, handing out fat fines to those who are out for no good reason. Until recently, here in Lombardia, lone joggers and dog walkers have been going out (as I did) citing a health necessity. Now, it seems even those activities are discouraged. I haven’t walked my dog in almost a week. I’m thankful I have a yard where my dog can chase a ball and get some exercise and where, on a clear day, we can enjoy the precious afternoon sunshine. I know most in the Milan metro area do not have the luxury of a small yard. Most are quarantined in small, cramped apartments, their only escape is a balcony or a view out a window.
Today, I went through photos, reliving happier times. I found some beautiful photos of Bergamo (see below) taken by my son, a blossoming photographer and videographer. Bergamo is a short 40 minute drive from here and we often go there to enjoy the views from the Citta Alta, the old medieval heart of the city that sits on a hill, walls in tact, with stunning views of the valley on one side and the Alps on the other. I know one day we’ll return to take a passeggiata and eat brasato at our favorite restaurant. Until then, I pray for the city, that their citizens would heal, and that all the losses in Lombardy, and the rest of the country, would come to an end.
Last night, as all of Italia received the news of the latest COVID-19 numbers, you could almost hear a collective, national sigh of grief. 368 people died in a single day, the highest number of deaths in one day so far. The new death toll is 1,809 nationally, 1,218 of those deaths are here in Lombardy. As we approach the peak of the virus this week, we’re bracing ourselves for the worst.
Today the numbers here in Lombardy are depressing: 9,820 cases, 890 deaths. That’s a 9 percent mortality rate. For a week more than 100 people have died every day just in our region. What’s even more depressing is that we’re being told that we have not reached the peak of the virus yet.
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.