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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Waiting Out the Coronavirus in Ostia

Waiting Out the Coronavirus in Ostia

by Marcello Massatani (3/27/2020; photos likely 3/7/2020 or before)

This is the 4th in a series of accounts of living with the coronavirus in Rome and environs.  It takes the form of a letter/email to William and Dianne, the administrators of the site. The author is Marcello Massatani, the genial and knowledgeable man who is usually at the front desk of the superb Anglo American Bookshop, Via della Vite 102, not far from the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Marcello has worked at the bookstore for many years--longer than any other employee. He lives in Ostia.  

Dear William and Dianne,

I am very well and Healthy at the moment, and you?

I know in New York and in other parts of US, the situation is getting worse and worse because the coronavirus.

Here we are living a surreal situation. No one in the streets, all the shops are closed except grocery, supermarkets, newspaper stands and pharmacies.

Seems to be during a war, and yes we probably are in war, fighting against an invisible enemy.

Via delle Vite
Since the 7th of march the bookshop is closed (see photo at left of the street on which it is located), so it is almost a month that I cannot see Rome with my eyes but only on television, as I live in Ostia, just 30 km from Rome at the seaside. Also here everything's closed and we are allowed to leave home only to buy food and medicines, waiting your turn in long lines of people, taking care to be at the right distance from each other avoiding  any contact.

To be positive at the moment it is really hard, but personally I rediscovered the meaning of staying all day with family and share everything, doing gym [exercises at home; the health clubs are closed] in the morning with my wife, preparing lunch and dinner together (for the first time I did homemade gnocchi which were delicious), take really good care of my hobbies like magic, music, reading books, etc. Also the schools are closed and my son is taking online lessons from his teachers, discovering a new way to study.

All things that keep me from thinking about the terrible situation caused by the coronavirus. Many old and young People are dying with covid-19 so all of us could be infected by the virus if we do not respect the restrictions made by our Government and stay at home.

Inside the bookstore - when it was open.

Inevitably Italy will have a bad economic recession and I really don't know what will be the future for our bookshop and for everybody. I hope the Government will be able to give us a big help to start again. Same as after a war where a country has to rebuild everything step by step.

But in spite of everything, I am still positive about our future.

I look forward to see you again in Rome when the coronavirus will be only a bad remembrance for everybody.

All the best and stay well you too waiting for a global resurrection.

Marcello Massatani 

Along with his letter, Marcello sent a photo of Via delle Vite, where the bookstore is located (above), a photo of the inside of the bookstore when it was open, as well as photos of some of Rome's most famous attractions and spaces--likely taken before Marcello left Rome on March 7.  Here they are:

The Spanish Steps, with Santissma Trinita' dei Monti at top.

Piazza Navona

Piazza della Rotonda (Pantheon)

Campo de' Fiori

Looking toward Piazza di Spagna

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