The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Italy’s economy and the livelihood of its residents. While most of the cases have been reported in Northern Italy, the entire country has been on a lockdown to further prevent the spread. We spoke with Fabiana Calcagno about how her life in Rome has changed as a result of this pandemic.
Could you tell us a little about your family?
We are a family of 4 from Rome. My husband and I are both engineers and we have two boys, ages 6 and 2. We have always loved traveling and have been lucky to travel around the world for both pleasure and business. We’ve continued to travel with our kids, both of whom took their first plane rides at 3 months old. In fact, we traveled to China this past January.
What has been the response of your government to the pandemic?
Initially, the Italian government only locked down the northern part of Italy, which was identified as a “red zone”. After 10 days or so, they announced that the whole of Italy would be in lockdown. The public was asked to remain home and only go out for essential reasons like food shopping and medical appointments. Only a few establishments had been allowed to stay open such as grocery stores, transportation hubs, etc.
Where were you when the outbreak started?
We were in Rome, where we live and work.
How would you describe the situation in your area?
We have had more than 3,600 cases in my area. Luckily, the number of new cases is slowing down, although we were expecting a much bigger fall of new recorded cases with this complete lockdown.
What has been the public response to the quarantine in Rome?
Initially, we all thought a total lockdown was a bit over the top as the majority of the cases were in Northern Italy. Everyone kept comparing Covid-19 to the seasonal flu but once everything got shut down, we knew it was a lot more serious. Everyone started to stay in and police started monitoring the streets and businesses to make sure people respected the orders.
How has your daily life with your kids changed?
Our daily life has changed drastically. Schools, daycares, and preschools are all closed and both my husband and I are now working from home. Luckily, we have a garden and we try and get the kids to stay outside as much as possible. We have friends who live in flats and their kids have not been outside for more than a month now. The eldest has online classes to follow and homework to do. It’s a difficult situation and we now have to work and homeschool at the same time. My husband and I take turns based on our video conferences and work commitments. Usually I get up very early and start working while everyone is still asleep and my husband stays up late to catch up on his work.
Are your children aware of what is going on?
Our eldest boy is more aware. We read a book and watched a video recommended by his school that explained the circumstances in a way that children of his age would understand.
What has been the impact of the virus in your area?
As I mentioned, there are over 3,600 cases in my area. The hospitals are managing to handle the situation as best they can for now. New hospitals have also been built to help carry the load.
What is happening now?
It’s like being in a movie! Everything is closed, there is barely anyone outside and the few people who go out are looking at each other in fear. Even food shopping has become quite a surreal experience.
We Italians are used to a lot of physical contact with our friends and family by hugging or kissing, so having to keep a social distance goes against our nature. I believe this experience will change our world and how we relate to one another.
Many families are experiencing economic hardship and I am proud to say the public is showing solidarity by giving free food, offering help to do grocery shopping, and showing kindness.
What type of precautions are you and your family taking?
I am the only one who goes out to do grocery shopping. Usually, I go about once a week, and wear a mask and gloves. I clean my hands often with sanitizer while I am out and we leave our shoes at the door too. We have very supportive neighbors so we try to buy food for each other to limit exposure.
Do you know anyone who has been infected?
Some of my colleagues have tested positive, but luckily they have only experienced mild symptoms.
Would you like to add anything else?
The strange thing is that, despite this situation, our family life has improved. The kids are especially happy to be home with us. I have more time to cook, I am not rushing to go anywhere and I am grateful that we are all healthy. I really believe that we will come out of the other side changed for the better.
Has your experience been similar or different to the quarantine in Rome? Leave a comment below and let us know how you have been handling the Covid-19 situation!
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