In Northern Italy, citizen spirit remains unbroken

Coronavirus has hit particularly hard in Northern Italy, where more than 17,000 people have already died. What does it feel like to watch your home country be overrun by COVID-19 while you are forced to live under quarantine? Luca, assistant editor at Newscoop, describes how COVID-19 has impacted his life in Rome.

Life under lockdown: the world will never be the same

In response to the growing pandemic Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed a national lockdown on March 9, 2020. Citizens are not allowed to leave their homes except for essential work, and for health circumstances. How have these measures impacted the everyday life of Italians?

“My life drastically changed, since I was used to being outside the whole day for work, going to the gym, and meeting friends,” says Luca. “I am lucky as I live with four other people, students and working professionals, which makes the quarantine less scary. We reinvented ourselves as a surrogate family – no one is really alone. Having the chance to eat with someone else or playing a board game during the evening feels very important now. And that’s only the beginning. After the pandemic, we’ll be forced to rethink our social connections and our attitude towards society collectively.”

Without a doubt, we live in unprecedented times. It is too early to predict what kind of world awaits us once the pandemic has passed. For the moment however, Italy continues to fight COVID-19 under the national quarantine.

“Italy’s situation is well known,” says Luca. “After having suffered and struggled during the first weeks of the pandemic, hospitals are breathing again. Intensive therapy departments are not overcrowded anymore. That’s because the infection rate is partially declining. Only Tuscany and Lombardy show a RO (share of contagion) over 1.0. But that is also part of the problem: the situation in Italy is not the same for each region. There are some which are barely touched, according to the doubtful and restricted method of testing.”

Lombardy, Luca’s home region, has reached almost 10,000 deaths by now – the highest number in the entire country: “That also raises questions about a possible mutation of the virus in Lombardy, which could explain the high infection rate within the region. At the moment, scientists and researchers are doing their best, but the political administration is uncoordinated. Different regions decide for themselves and create disequilibrium in the country. Finally, Italians find it difficult to cope with the new regulations. Quarantine is not really respected by many people, prolonging the return to society as we used to know it.”

As some citizens have refused to follow the restrictions, Italian mayors have repeatedly called on citizens to respect quarantine regulations.

Power of music unites Italians

The strict national lockdown and resulting restriction of freedom have been hard on Italians. But in difficult times, acts of unity show our humanity. Italian citizens have started to make music from their balconies and windows in order to lift each others’ spririts.

Luca shares his personal tips on how to look after your mental health while under quarantine:

“Personally, it is not the first experience of isolation and self-isolation, so I was kind of prepared,” he explained. “Still, it is difficult to have your whole life rotating within four domestic walls. The routine kills you, and the feeling of seeing and living the same situations over and over rends your life empty.”

He goes on to explain: “My strategy is to listen to uplifiting music while I work in the morning. I have lunch with my flatmates, then it’s back to work, maybe in a common area. Once I finish work, I do some exercise which has become fundamental. The flow of endorphins triggered by physical activity really saves some of my days, while you release frustration of living under quarantine.”

Physical activity is particularly important in these times: “Workouts should be a must for your mental health – not Netflix. In the evening, my flatmates and I share a beer and play some games together. Eventually, you can have some time to yourself in your room if you want.”

Despite recent concerns by citizens from Southern Italy about the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods, Italy leads by example when it comes to showcasing their nation’s unbreakable spirit in the face of adversity.

This article is part of the Newscoop series #QuarantineStories which asks people from all over the world about how they are coping with COVID-19 and quarantine. If you want to contribute your experience submit your story here.

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