March 20


The Coronavirus Crisis in Italy – FCI 041

By Rick

March 20, 2020

To date, I’ve resisted weighing-in on the coronavirus crisis in Italy on my blog. For one reason, the situation changes significantly on a daily basis. So anything written today might be totally irrelevant (not to mention inaccurate) by next week. But also, I’m not living there at the moment, so I don’t feel that I have the first-hand experience to make any credible commentary (although it now seems I will have first-hand experience soon enough).

So instead, what I thought I’d do is to speak directly with people, both expats and Italians, about the situation on the ground at the moment. I’ve tried to get a good cross-section with regards to geography and role/job in the daily life of Italy. 

Five Takes on the Coronavirus Crisis in Italy

In this episode you heard five stories. I actually spoke with a few more but didn't want to add any more length to the track. I would like to add a second part to this, and so I will update this page as needed.

So here they are, three Italians and two expats representing the hardest hit areas of the country. Three of them are directly involved in tourism, and two are not. However, nobody in the country is unaffected by this pandemic. Let's meet them.

Judy Witts Francini - American Expat Cooking in Tuscany

I offer a Tuscan week based in the Chianti Wine Region, where I have been living for the past 12 years, and The Sicily program is based at the Planeta Winery in Menfi. But my true love is creating custom programs for clients.  I hope to share my passion and love for Italy through these full immersions in everyday life, where you will feel like a local, not a tourist.

I have opened a Patreon page, where I will sharing my video cooking demos on the site. You can sign up for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

CLICK for More Culinary Resources from Judy!




John Henderson - American Expat Writing in Rome

On Jan. 5, 2014 John Henderson retired after nearly 40 years as a sportswriter, the last 23 with The Denver Post, and moved to Rome Jan. 10. It was a one-way ticket. 

At The Denver Post, he wrote a traveling food column for eight years called A Moveable Feast. Before going to Denver, he worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 1980-90 and the Fournier Newspapers chain in suburban Seattle from 1979-80. He is originally from Eugene, Oregon.

His latest blog article reports on the Coronavirus Lockdown in Italy.

Contact him at [email protected]Facebook  or Twitter.

Lorenzo Bonoldi - Art Historian & Tour Guide in Mantua

Lorenzo is an Art Historian and dedicated Tourism Professional. And he's lucky because he's been able to transform his passion for the History of Art into his full-time job.

He has a strong educational and professional background, and is always more than willing to share his knowledge with tourists visiting his hometown. I can personally vouch for his expertise, as I was a guest on one of his tours a few years ago. Incredible!

So, if you are planning to pay a visit to Mantua, you can count on Lorenzo to make your guided tour a day to be remembered!

Visit him online during this period of lockdown:

Visit Mantua Website

Lorenzo's Instagram Page

The #Corona Diaries: Dispatches from the Front Lines in #Italy

Click to Tweet

Emma Mafalda - Professional Photographer in Milan

Milan is Italy's busiest city and its economic hub. These days, it seems deserted, which only underscores the secondary effects of this horrible situation. That is to say, the long-term devastation on Italy's economy, which was already weak. 

Emma is a professional photographer in Milan, and she's obviously not working at the moment while she's quarantined inside her house. So even though she has not contracted the virus; even though she's not in the tourism sector, she is still effected, like everyone else. 

If you check out her Instagram account (below), you'll see that she does a lot of portrait work. Fashion photography, professional head shots, weddings. So yes, not much work at the moment.

Mafalda Elle - Italian Photographer

Monica Cesarato - Culinary Guide in Venice

My name is Monica, I am a native Italian from Venice, Italy. I am a Food and Travel blogger talking about Venice, Veneto and Italy, a Culinary guide and a Cooking instructor offering cooking classes and catering with Cook In Venice

In 2018 I won an Award with The Luxury Travel Guide for Best Unique Unique Experience in Veneto and also I was included in the Lonely Planet list of Activities to do for Food and Drink in Venice, both as myself and as Cook in Venice with our cooking classes.

Here's the latest post from her blog (in English) about the current plight of the glassblowers of Murano:  Murano's Broken Glass

The Spanish Flu of 1918

For perspective, and to learn a lesson from history, experts have been pointing to the 1981 Global Pandemic named "The Spanish Flu. 500 million infected (1/3 of the global population). Estimated 70 million dead. So if you do the math, the mortality rate was around 14%, which is huge, even compared to coronavirus. Then again this was before the advent of modern medicine, notably antibiotics to treat superimposed infections, which was a major cause of death. 

Credit: The Washington Post

Also, most people back then (even public health officials) didn’t understand the importance of hand washing. They DID, however, understand the importance of social distancing and “flattening the curve.” Indeed, the suggests that social distancing is even more important than personal hygiene with regards to limiting the spread of a contagion.

You may have already heard the tale of two cities; Philadelphia and Saint Louis, as referenced in this graph by The Washington Post. Fast forward to 2020 and swap out Philadelphia for Italy, and Saint Louis for South Korea. 

Now the question being posed to the leader of the Federal Government in the U.S. is, "Two months from now, do you want to look like Italy... or South Korea?" So far, it looks like we're opting to take the same path as our Italian friends. Alas. 

Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

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