Dreaming In Italian


The Rant (Lo Sfogo)

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

There is a video that has gone viral (appropriate term) here. It is a young mayor of a smallish town in Sicily. He blows off steam about the casual manner the citizens of his town are making light of the mandate to stay at home. Unless you understand Italian you really can’t follow what he’s saying so with a lot of effort (and help from Laura) I transcribed at least a significant portion of it.

I am posting it because you can see feel his sincerity and frustration and above all it you can watch his expression and gestures. He get’s pretty worked up to the point that I gave up trying to transcribe it about 2/3 of the way through.

So here is the transcript as best I could do with a little paraphrasing here and there keeping the same meaning.

———————————————

Many you have made posters saying ” everything will be alright”. Lots of people write on Facebook and with text messages. But I would like to understand how everything will be alright if we continue every day to go out grocery shopping? Grocery shopping should be done once every 10 days. How will everything be alright if lots of people go out every day and buy cigarettes? Instead of taking care of yourself, ah, OK  you have a vice of smoking, I’m not going to go into that.  You buy a bunch of cigarettes and take them home. Don’t leave the house every day to buy cigarettes.


How will everything be alright if the people go the the filling stations? What good is this gasoline if you need to stay at home? How will everything be alright if lots of people ask to have their hair done at their house? But what good is that? How will everything be alright if lots of people ask to have their hair done at their house? What good is it? This hair done at the in this time, what good is it? Make me understand.

How will everything be alright if lots of people call me to go out for a little run because they are stressed out? Guys I’ve been running for 20 years. Where I run there are a maximum of 20 people running. Now everyone wants to run. But where are you going to run if the last time that you ran was when you were in elementary school. (obviously just an excuse to get out of the house). But where will you go to run?


Today on Sunday many people are in the countryside to roast meat. To barbecue? Are you kidding me? You are risking our life and that of all of our citizens! Having a party in the condominium! But the contagion is right there! Stay at home means stay with your own family, not with the neighbors. – At this point I gave up. It’s harder to understand when he really gets worked up.


Andra’ tutto bene – it will be alright

BTW a glimmer of hopeful news today. The rate of infection increase was only 10%. The previous 3 or 4 day it has been between 13 and 15% and before that it was between 20 and 30%. So 10% is hopeful. I hope it continues to go down. By the way in the US the rate of infection increases has been pretty consistently at an average of 30%.

  • Share/Bookmark

Almost the third week.

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

Now it’s Sunday, March 22. In the last blog post 4 days ago I said that I’d do another post on the next day. Well, I got lazy. It’s really a strange phenomenon being cooped up in the apartment for days. Now it is the 6th day that I have not left the house except to take out the recycling which is only something like 100 meters from the door to the building. Not very interesting and not much exercise.

I wanted to go to the supermarket today but the ones closest to me are closed. But I think that I’ll go anyway. I’ll take the carello so that if I’m questioned by a policeman I can say that I didn’t know that both the supermarket and the pharmacy are closed. Yes, as I said in my previous post, they are really clamping down here. In the last week there have been 9000 fines issued to people who are flaunting the rules. This is serious business with as of today 53,578 cases recorded. This includes those who have been cured or have died. The rate of increase is still at 14% but there is hope that we’re approaching the peak since many of those being reported were actually infected before the start of the lock down but were asymptomatic. We’ll see – I certainly hope so. Still I’ve gotten some interesting videos from friends here. A little humor helps relieve the stress.

When in the space of two hours you’ve already taken the dog out 8 times
Everything will be alright
After the quarantine

This next one is pretty long. It has artworks usually by well known artists with titles for this time of the coronavirus. Without knowing Italian you can probably guess at many of them. In the first one, “starnuto” means “sneeze”.

Here’s a quick list of painting titles in order: The Sneeze, Patient Zero, Epidemic Hotspot, Red Zone, Identify the virus strain, Here there’s Purell,Quarantine on the water, Integral masks, Bars open until 6PM, Closing of the parks, The gathering,This is what you do all day?, Fleeing from the north, At the supermarket, No more service at the bar, A stroll downtown, At least a meter (apart), The closure of the beauticians, I’m staying at home, Just need a document to go out, Finally at home together, Flash mob, Don’t return to the South, Without pilates.

Art in the time of the corona virus

Let me know if you made it all of the way through the video – admittedly without Italian language it’s a bit of a chore.

Good neighbors in times of stress

And God is getting into the act with Purell (or equivalent)

Oh yes, given that much of the US has been asking (and not enforcing) social distancing for at least a week now. I’d like to share a photo from New Orleans on Saint Patrick’s day – March 17. As of today there are 763 cases in Louisiana.

How do you define stupidity and irresponsibility?
  • Share/Bookmark

Week two locked down in Italy

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

As probably everyone knows Italy is on a countrywide lockdown. Supermarkets, pharmacies are open as are tobacco shops (we don’t want rioting in the streets). The last time that I went out for a walk was last Friday, 5 days ago. I didn’t realize it at the time but that walk was actually illegal. Now apparently the various police forces are stopping anyone they find walking around and ask them where they are going and why. You risk a fine at minimum if you can’t show a real need to be out.

Two days ago I went to the local supermarket. I went at about 11:30 thinking that there wouldn’t be many people there and besides there is a guard in front of the place that is limiting entry so that seemed safe. But frankly the guard wasn’t really doing a great job. There were at least 50 people in the store and while it is a pretty good size market, especially for the center of Bologna, there were definitely too many people for my taste. Anyway I had taken my little carello and a small backpack because I wanted to buy a bunch of stuff. The carello is one of those things that you see people using in cities where they either go on foot or using public transportation. Mine is like the one below but I think prettier.

IKEA KNALLA Carrello della spesa
Ikea Carello Spesa (grocery shopping cart)

In any case I tried to keep a distance of over a meter from everyone in the store which was pretty easy because everyone else wanted to maintain that distance. I filled up both the cart and backpack to overflowing with all of the necessities; beer, wine, chocolate and also some food. I then used the self checkout and paid with my bancomat card (debit card) using Applepay on my phone to avoid touching things as much as possible. I was relieved to get back home and thoroughly washed my hands before doing anything else.

The city is absolutely deserted. I commented to one of my friends here that even the pigeons were either absent or inactive – that’s a very unusual thing in any city. I guess that they are highly dependent on the population to leave a trail of edible stuff for them. Despite all of this spirits are good although it is stressful being sort of under house arrest. I’ve exchanged messages with friends here and also called them with WhatsApp; it’s free and you can also have a video call.

There is a little light at the end of the tunnel. The rate of new infections in the last two days has fallen. Here’s the graph. First let’s start with the scary graph. Keep in mind that this is only 4 weeks.

The number of identified cases have gone from 20 on February 22 to over 31,000 today (March 18). Keep in mind that many of these cases had either no or mild symptoms. Severe restrictions were mandated just over a week ago countrywide and few days earlier in the “red zone” of highly infected areas – especially Lombardia where Milano and Bergamo are located. It looks like we’re starting to see some positive results.

Rate of infection increases


The % of new infections has started going down in the last 5 days and the last two are at 13%. The average during the last 4 weeks has been at about 30%. The date at the start of the graph is suspect because as of the 22nd of February there were only 20 identified cases in all of Italy so the first 3 or 4 days the data was not very good. The current prediction is that the number of infections will peak by Sunday. After that the number of currently infected, that is the total infected minus those who have recovered or, unfortunately, died will start to go down. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

That’s enough for now. This post is getting pretty long but I will have more to say tomorrow so stay tuned. If anyone would like to talk via WhatsApp, leave a comment. Please do not leave a phone number on any public site, I can email you and we can exchange phone numbers.

  • Share/Bookmark

I’m proud of you Italy

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

It is a common (and true) conception that Italians are furbi. “Furbo” is an Italian word that is a little difficult to translate but it mostly means “clever” often in a good way but sometimes it’s negative. Many years ago, in the 80s, on my very first time in Italy on a business trip I was in a car with an Italian sales representative and saw a driver stop briefly for a red light and then continue across the intersection. My driver explained that many Italians viewed a red light as a “suggestion”, being furbo means finding a way around the endless rules here. So when the Italian premier, Conte, addressed the nation when imposing severe travel restrictions to and from the Red Zones at the time (now it is all of Italy) he apparently said don’t be “furbi”, ie, don’t evade the restrictions. There were some but not many that did at that time. When he later instituted the sweeping restrictions on March 10th for the whole of Italy, there was almost a miraculous transformation. People rose to the occasion. And also the various police agencies made it clear that they would enforce the rules when necessary. Everyone realized that the reason for such restrictions were absolutely necessary to stop the rapid spread of the virus. The buses were half full at most, stores were generally empty and few people in bars, restaurants and in the gym. Then came further restrictions with today’s announcement that only pharmacies, grocery stores and banks would be open for business. The banks actually will pretty much remain closed for walk-in customer (they were already significantly restricted).

I did a little spreadsheet and found that if the same rate of increase of infected people continued at the same rate (about 20% per day), then the number here yesterday, 10,000, would become 383,000 after 3 weeks and 1,373,000 after the 4th week. That’s a pretty sobering calculation given that probably about 2% of those numbers are expected to die.

So I lift a glass of prosecco to the citizens of my adopted country.

I am doing my part. I’m pretty much holed up in my apartment. Yesterday I went to the nearby supermarket when it was not very busy and bought a bunch of stuff to add to my pantry so that I should easily be able to avoid shopping for about 10 days. The next time that I do go I’ll probably go as soon as it opens (I think at 8:30) to avoid as much as possible any contact with others. Of course I’m also doing this to avoid getting sick. While I’m strong and healthy I’m still in the demographic more at risk.

I foresee similar restrictions happening in the U.S. since they don’t seem to be doing a great job right now with limiting the spread of the virus.

  • Share/Bookmark