Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Monday, April 6, 2020

Waiting Out the Coronavirus in Piazza Bologna

The fourth in our series of accounts of life in Rome under the coronavirus is by Chiara Midolo, who lives with her husband Massimo, and their two children in an apartment not far from the Tiburtina train station. Massimo teaches political science and other subjects at UNINT (a university on viale Cristoforo Colombo on the way to EUR); Chiara teaches English at the Liceo Statale Maria Montessori (a high school near Piazza Vescovio). Their son Luca, 20, is studying physics at La Sapienza; all his classes now are taught online. Irene, 17 in May, is in her third year at Liceo Pilo Albertelli, near Santa Maria Maggiore.
Waiting Out the Coronavirus in Piazza Bologna

by Chiara Midolo  (3/27/2020-3/28/2020)

March 27th, and I’ve already lost count of the number of days since the beginning of the lockdown.

At first, I thought I was going to have a lot of free time but, as things turned out, I don’t.

Partly because teaching has become more challenging, what with keeping track of technologies I’ve never needed so far, reassuring students that, Yes, It’s OK to send their homework via WhatsApp –AGAIN--planning the next class with my colleague Susan, or trying to come up with a weekly schedule we can all agree on.

Partly because, being at home 24/7, just the four of us (plus Pepper [the dog]), means spending part of our days actually TALKING to each other. Seriously, sometimes, as when the kids discussed at length whether anything that matters can (or will) actually be explained by science (Luca) or if it is precisely what science can’t account for that matters more (Irene).  Sometimes, on the other hand, our conversations are just silly, and we laugh a lot.

We watch some TV, but only in the evening (Netflix, mostly); Irene and I are watching "Doctor Who" and having a lot of fun.

I’ve been working out every day (thank god for YouTube fitness videos), and Massimo has joined me in the last couple of days. In the first phase, when parks were still open, the kids used to go jogging in Villa Torlonia, but all parks are locked now. Then of course we take Pepper out, but that’s just for 10 minutes 3 times a day.

Market at Piazza dei Vespri Siciliani
Queuing at the market
Shopping for food is a bit of a problem. The farmers’ market (above) has been shut for a few days, then fenced and opened again, but only a few people at a time are admitted to the stalls, so there is always a line. So, I text my shopping list to my favorite (Moroccan) greengrocer, and then send Luca.  Once a week or so, one of us goes to the supermarket (only 1 member for each household is admitted). There is a long line to get in, and a certain furtive air in everyone, as we all go about our business
to pick it up. Same with the butcher. We make our own bread, but that’s not new.

This is the thing I dislike the most. When I’m out walking the dog, for example, I follow the unspoken rule of crossing the street every time I see someone coming from the opposite direction. And that seems sensible. But I can’t for the life of me see the reason why most people avoid even GLANCING at passers-by, as though a simple look might infect them.

The Italian flag joins the laundry
The singing and dancing at the windows at 6 pm was short-lived. As the number of casualties increased, most people felt there was little use for that; so the neighborhood is very silent. What’s become more frequent, at least in my daily routine, is video calls with 3-5 friends or relatives round 7 pm, just in time for “aperitivo virtuale”.

Chiara's street, now decorated with Italian flags--a new
phenomenon for Rome
As I write this, Luca comes back from Policlinico Umberto Primo, where he went early this morning to donate blood. His temperature was taken before the donation, and he was given a face mask and asked to sanitize his hands, but other than that everything was normal. On his way home, I asked him to stop at the pharmacy to get me some aspirin, but the queue was very long.

A sign on via Apuania. "To all doctors and nurses: Thank you! You are the pride of Italy. You are not alone: have strength and we'll get through this. We are staying home."
My brother and his wife, up in Torino, are in all probability infected: about a week ago my sister-in-law’s mother was hospitalized, tested positive, and is likely to die soon. They both have all the symptoms, but no tests are available, so they are quarantined, a bit shaken, but trying to keep their spirits up. There is nothing to do but wait, so we wait….

No comments: