On lockdown in northern Italy: “It’s like being in a bubble”

lockdown italy galway daily

By Jana Kolnrekaj in Tolmezzo, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

Being on lockdown was not one of our New Year’s resolutions but that’s what has happened, and the only thing we can do is to accept it. 

Last Monday, the 10th of March, some of the regions in northern Italy were already ‘red zones’ – such as Lombardia, Veneto and Emilia Romagna – meaning that they were on lockdown.  

Earlier on Monday, to the delight of many, Amazon decided to make Prime Video free for the people who lived in the red zones.

On Monday evening the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared that all of Italy was a red zone, or under lockdown – putting Amazon in a tricky situation.

At the beginning, the Amazon fiasco made me laugh, but then I started to realise what was happening, and it felt like I was in a bubble where everything stopped for a moment.

The colours became more vivid and the sounds muffled. I didn’t know if I could see my friends or go for a walk or look for a job. I started thinking about what I should do, and the answer was simply: do nothing and wait for the bubble to burst.

After a week I can happily say I haven’t gone mad, yet, or maybe I just don’t think so.

Anyway I haven’t had time, because my sister and I came up with this thrilling idea to clean and organise the whole house. 

We started disassembling the large dresser in the living room because according to my sister it was so ugly and had negative energy and we couldn’t do anything else before getting rid of it. Now the sitting room is beautiful and positive, but we still haven’t finished all the things we wanted to do. It’s amazing to discover how much housework there is, which can(‘t) be done in a week! 

We also decided to have a code-word for when we don’t really feel okay. Because staying in the same house with the same person for a long period of time is not healthy. So if we start feeling nervous or overwhelmed by the situation, we just say the word “Flussigseife” which is the German word for liquid soap (don’t ask, such a long story) and then we know that the other one needs space, or just a hug (even if nowadays it is literally illegal). It works! 

Among the different methods we are exploring to kill time here is also giving free rein to our creativity, as you can see from the picture here above, or from reading this article. I haven’t been so busy in a while. It’s paradoxical!

Speaking about the world outside of my house I can say that luckily it’s sunny, otherwise it would be even more oppressive. It’s sunny and quiet. 

The general provisions of the decree are that we must stay at home and we can only leave the house to go shopping or to work – well, those who still can – because most people are now working from home or not working at all, like people who work in bars, restaurants, and in other jobs that aren’t necessary for our survival (my hairdresser couldn’t disagree more).

During the first few days of the lockdown some people didn’t really get it and they were trying to go wherever they wanted but some of them received a fine, because there is a fine if you leave your house without any real need to. Some of them are still not following the rules, but survival of the fittest, I guess.

The weirdest thing is going to the supermarket though. There is a surreal atmosphere, everybody is keeping away from each other, there is no music and you feel as if others are judging you. I still haven’t discovered if it’s better to buy a lot of stuff (running the risk of looking selfish) or not to buy very much (and starve at home).

We have to stay in our houses until the 3rd of April, but we don’t know if the lockdown will be extended. Anyway it is good sometimes to stop and think about ourselves and the world around us. It is still sad because people are scared and are dying and the economy will probably collapse, but this lockdown is what we have to go through to stop this virus from spreading. Then we can carry on with our lives. I hope this story will teach us to slow down – we need a rest. Our planet does as well.

Remember, don’t panic, wash your hands, stay safe and Happy Paddy’s Day! 

Ní neart go cur le chéile.