Author Archives: Nancy Hampton

Corona virus 15

247 new positives in Umbria for corona virus. 25% increase. 2 new deaths.

I got out for some much needed fresh air and a solitary walk yesterday.  I took some pictures as a nice break from all the dire news. It was beautiful out. But I did feel a little weird. Then I reminded myself, we are allowed to go out for exercise alone. We must immediately return home. We must carry ID and the autocertificazione form. I complied with those rules. We are hearing rumblings they may stop all outside exercise because some people are not following the rules and are ruining it for us all.

I started off going straight out of town towards the river. I’ve always loved this path. It is directly behind our apartment and it is, strangely, called Via Grilli — the same name as our street. We know this because more than one visitor was sent down this path by their GPS…worse…it ends in a concrete ramp and metal railing. You must back out..😂

Along this path is a small corpse of trees. Bright green spring growth. It was the home of a colony of feral cats until recently.

Here is a sign, made by children in a nearby apartment. It says andrà tutto bene —- everything will be better ❤️

I went to the ATM. In our Piazza. Normally a beehive of activity with two bars,  stores open and people mixing … it is sad to see it like this.

And finally the churches of Piazza San Francesco. I sort of got trapped by cordoned off path so had to cut through here back to my casa.


I am following the news from the US and other countries. I am happy to see some US cities are putting into effect the same type of shelter-in-place regiments as Italy has. But, sadly most of the country has been slow to adopt these measures.

About 10 days ago we went into full lock down here. Not just suggestions that we stay home, or that just the elderly have to stay home. Or that we can’t have a gathering of more than ten people…or 50 people or whatever damn random number they decided was “safe”. No one is kindly asking us to “please stay home”. Here, we get arrested and charged with a felony if we are caught out with no good reason. Here, it is a serious quarantine where the only reason we are allowed out is to shop for food or medicine.

I realize no one wants to hear this, but the way forward has been made clear by other countries facing the same epidemic.

I hear people in the US say “Italy looks like us except they are a week or two ahead” but that is ONLY true if you enact the (admittedly draconian) measures we have taken here, and enact them, right now, today. If the US doesn’t take these steps it will have missed the opportunity to save thousands of lives. The time is now.

I’m very sorry to write that. But please, you must realize your reality is no more. Your everyday life has changed for the foreseeable future. It is time to accept and embrace your new reality. I want you to be OK, and for all of our lives to go back to normal…but that will have to wait. Forza America, forza world…

Corona virus 14

197 positive cases in Umbria yesterday. Still growing by 20% a day, or thereabouts.

2 new cases here in Umbertide. We got notice they will be disinfecting all surfaces around town. And to keep our windows closed.
Public Service Announcement: Good source of info sent to me by a friend who works at Johns Hopkins University.

I feel I’ve strayed from relating my own story here, so I’m going back to that primarily. Luther and I were just saying, as we arose to another day in our house…it is just like being under house arrest but we don’t have the ankle bracelets. 😂

I think today’s post will be stream of consciousness….

There has been a very heated debate (mostly on Facebook expat groups) about whether people are allowed to go out of their houses to walk or run for exercise. Tonight on RAI One, one of the main TV stations here, they said that people are allowed to exercise, inside or outside, as long as they do it by themselves. I’ve been worrying about my inability to exercise my recently replaced knee. I don’t feel it is good to sit around the house all day, every day without exercising it. If this thing was short lived that would be OK. But we are hearing rumors it could go through the whole summer.

Here’s another thought. We are in an agricultural area. I’m happy to report that the farmers are working their fields and planting. These are large scale (one crop in the field) farms. This reminded me of our lost Saturday Local Produce market. Where the people who come have farms around here to sell to us, the customers. And there is bound to be food in their fields which they would be selling to us in normal times. So what are they doing with this produce? The chain has broken. How can we facilitate the movement of the local food from the farms to the consumers here (who want it) with no venue? We need to come up with a new plan to help the farmers, so they will plant new crops at the proper time dictated by the season. We want them to keep planting. We don’t want them to go out of business. We need the chain to be unbroken. It is to everyone’s advantage to keep this going. I think I will post this on our local Umbria Facebook page…maybe we can come up with some ideas.

Hmmmm. I was looking in the mirror today. Not a good idea, in the best of times. And I realized I’m overdue for a haircut. It occurred to me, since all the hairdressers are closed indefinitely, that we are going to be – ONE shaggy nation! OMG we will look like cavemen when we emerge from our casa caves. Whenever that may be…

I’m still following the news from the US. Most of it is heartening. People are taking this all more seriously I think, finally. Except for one report from Florida…they’ve closed all the bars and clubs. Yay! But they let the restaurants stay open half capacity….Noooooooooo. 😱 If you are trying to limit transmission of this thing then go the whole way. Half full still transmits the contagion. Bad idea. I’m sure they are hoping to keep the restaurants solvent. I totally understand that. But I’m afraid our way of life will not be the same for a long time. Our businesses and economy will take huge hits. Inevitable. But more important are the millions…and I mean millions, who will die. We all need to act now.

An finally, and I’ll shut my trap after this, but a quote from our leaders. (What are they thinking?! 🤦🏻‍♀️)
“ Over the weekend, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a leading ally of President Trump, dismissed concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and said on Fox News that “it’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant.”

Oh my god.

Gosh, this is not a good note on which to end. So let’s talk about lunch. I made a big soup today. It will last days. It has tomatoes, carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms, cabbage, one jalapeño, mixed grains and a little pasta. Very healthy, very hearty and filling. I serve it with a drizzle of good olive oil. 🙂 Picture!


All y’all stay safe. Wash your hands! And Anderà tutti bene!

Corona virus 13

164 positive cases in Umbria. It continues to grow, here and in all of Italy. The new cases and deaths continue to set daily records. We have not yet turned the corner. But we are hoping we will soon.
Another day has passed. And a beautiful spring day it is. I couldn’t ask for a prettier place to be stuck!


I keep in touch daily, mostly through email and Facebook, and it makes me feel more connected. It is a real help to me. I also read multiple news sources every day. In my conversations I’ve noticed a very big difference in the way people are handling this enforced lockdown. A lot of it depends on ones personality. If a person feels the need for personal contact, they are having a hard time! If a person feels they need to always be busy with a project, it makes it more of a challenge. If a person is happy in his/her skin and with being solitary, it is easier. If a person can entertain themselves with reading, cooking, chatting with friends, it is not such a trial. I understand these differences and realize this whole thing will be different for each of us. But we hang together, and we hang in. The Italian saying is andrà tutti bene — it will all be better. You will see this everywhere here. Most of these signs are made by children. They don’t understand what is going on, so keeping their spirits up is key.

People are still not taking this seriously enough.

Today I read a post by David Lebovitz. He writes a food blog from Paris. He said…” We are on day #1 of a fifteen-day confinement. Bars, cafés and restaurants were closed Saturday at midnight (which were packed in my neighborhood, as usual, with twenty- and thirty-somethings), and people were told to keep a distance between them and avoid public places. But the revelry continued on the streets around here through the wee hours of Sunday morning. Later in the morning, people waited in line, shoulder-to-shoulder, shopping at the Bastille market, and Sunday afternoon, people filled parks in Paris, or sat by the canal to have a beer with friends. To be honest, it was disheartening, and a little frightening, to watch the news and hear people being interviewed, talking about how they didn’t care, that they were going to do whatever they wanted. So here we are, with talk of the military coming in to make sure people stay indoors.”

And I said yesterday that Americans were not taking the virus threat seriously. To my point… I saw a poll today by NPR which said: “…only 56% of Americans consider the coronavirus a “real threat,” representing a drop of 10 percentage points from last month. At the same time, a growing number of Americans think the coronavirus is being “blown out of proportion.” This means 44% DO NOT consider it a threat.

This is dangerous thinking people. You put others at risk, not just yourself.

I’ve been following the news from around the world from multiple sources. Finally countries are taking necessary steps.

France banned travel outside the home except for essential travel.

The Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Spain have closed their borders to all foreigners.

Air travel is all but shut down. Countries are concentrating on helping to get their citizens back home.

The US and the UK both have changed their policies as of yesterday. The messages from the leaders are unambiguous at last. But the messages were quite different. One difference, Boris Johnson told the British people to prepare for it to last a year. Trump said for two weeks, but it could last into summer.

I’m sorry to hear the UK is still encouraging the schools to remain open.

Both the UK and many parts of the US are discouraging gatherings of 10 or more people. This is still too many people gathering together. At least according to my daily existence. I wonder how they come up with that number? Like 10 or less won’t transmit the virus? I don’t think so…

I noted the UK is “encouraging” people to stay home and they expect that most people “would accept that we are a mature and grown-up and liberal democracy where people understand very clearly the advice that is given to them”. But they said if necessary the powers to enforce the restrictions would be used.

I mentioned a few days ago that life has changed in so many ways here. One was no gatherings, to include Mass, Weddings, Funerals. The very sad consequence of this is that, with so many deaths right now, the grief is compounded by the fact that people are being buried alone, with no loved ones attending the funeral which is attended by a Priest and the funeral home employee. Families are devastated.

On a brighter note…The Italian papers are talking about the environmental changes happening here. The air pollution is practically nonexistent in the industrial North. And they said this morning, the canals in Venice are clearer that anyone can remember.
My sister said to me the other day…
“Crisis is the best impetus for change. Maybe the world will emerge from this a better place. We can hope so.”
Andrà tutti bene…

Corona virus 12

143 positive cases in Umbria.

First case in Umbertide! An old man who has been put in isolation. He lived in a casa di riposo or nursing home. Now all the staff, residents and families are quarantined. Had to happen sooner or later I guess. I hope he gets better soon.

The nightly concerts from windows and balconies around Italy continue. It raises the spirits and makes everyone come together. A man named Oliver Clark wrote a very moving tribute…here is just a piece of it…

“You can take away their livelihoods, their cafes, restaurants, theatres and even their beloved football, but nothing it seems can dampen the joy for life of the Italian people.”


Now I’m on my high horse for a bit…Listen to me!! I speak from experience. In reality the US should be thinking of themselves/yourselves! What is it with people there? They/you are all solicitous of us here (thank you…) but don’t you realize that our world will be your world shortly? I just shake my head. I keep trying to tell them/you. Sadly, you are following in the footsteps of Italy. People there are still not taking it seriously. OMG the spring break pictures!! Geez…bring it back to your family and friends! This will result in many more infections 😢. You are a few weeks behind us here. You need to close all venues where people gather. ALL of them. Restaurants, bars, discos. Please people…my friends…self isolate. No restaurants, no bars, no gatherings of any sort. Stay at home. It’s not that hard. And if everyone does it, it “shouldn’t” be that long…We hope…
All my good thoughts! Stay safe 💕

Corona virus 11

107 total cases in Umbria. You can see it jumps exponentially.

I noticed yesterday that my YouTube video was not in the email link to my post. I guess embedded links don’t work in emails.
To see it go to —

The flash mobs are very uplifting for us here.

So they think this will peak in Italy at 92,000 cases next week and then decline.

An interesting fact —- 35 people under 60 died in northern Italy yesterday. The median age of hospitalization this week is 40-49 years. So it is not only the old who are dying.

I had a lovely Skype chat with my niece (thanks Rachel!). She’s a nurse at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. I got some insight into how they are preparing. They have two large areas dedicated to Corona. And I found it interesting that they have their own test for it and it takes 24 hours to get the result. All done in-house. They can test any amount of people as necessary. I wish this could be done more. Anyway, I can’t help but be concerned for her but she will be careful, I’m sure. The nurses and doctors on the front lines are amazing! Stai sicuro Rachel!💕

The Italian Air Force and Pavarotti put on quite the show yesterday. The little plane is the virus. And it is vanquished by the flying “V” – which then release their green, white and red smoke. It was uplifting, and tear inducing…

If you can’t see this go to – it doesn’t always show in the email.


And last…I got to walk outside for a few minutes!! It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining, there’s a brisk cold breeze. We threw away some trash in the piazzetta near us. Everyone in their apartments has their windows open. And I could hear the children screaming. Please shoot me! I’ve got it good. I don’t know how the moms cope. I told Luther, in the two weeks we have left, how many murders will occur?

We walked out and across the bridge over the river. We were making a buy…😀 Perfectly legal! Calagrana has gotten creative and is making meals-to-go. We bought two, fully prepared and scrumptious, dinners! One a curry dinner, the other salmon with chili beans and roast potatoes. A break from cooking. And who knew we’d be resorting to Meals on Wheels!

Here’s a shot of the Tiber. Beautiful color today, and very clear.

Stai attento, listen to the authorities, stay far from crowds and, of course, wash your hands…💕

Corona virus 10

Hard to believe I’ve been posting about this for ten days! The infected count as of last night was 76. It continues to rise. We are all waiting to see it begin to curve back down. Here is the chart I got yesterday so you can see the numbers for all over Italy.

A few thoughts, yesterday, and today, I noticed the amazing silence. I can hear the birds chirping. When I walked to the grocer yesterday, I actually noticed I could hear my own footfalls. They echoed off the walls of the piazza. I was the sole person out. And from our terrace, all I can hear are the birds. I miss the arguing old men downstairs in the Piazza playing Briscola. I even miss the music, bands and discos at the two nearby Bars. I cannot know how hard this must be for the teenagers and their parents cooped up in their houses!
Italy has been keeping up our spirits by having “balcony flash mobs”. It has been fun watching. And a little sniffle producing. Everyone is hanging together in this crisis. 🙂 Forza Italia!


And for my friends and loved ones in the US. Please stay safe. I am keeping up with the most recent news and it does not sound good. Take measures now…
Ciao…and remember…wash your hands!

Corona virus 9 – first death

Pretty big jump today. 64 positive cases in Umbria.
First death. 67 year old man. Musician. Lived in Città di Castello

Città di Castello is a town just north of us. Only about 15 miles. So now we know it is very near. It becomes more real.

Today is Friday. Our intrepid Italian teacher still came to teach us here at our house. Her whole family is home. 3 kids (mostly grown) and a husband. Her husband is a very well known tour guide in Rome. But, as we all know. There are no tours anywhere. And no people allowed out.
Until today, I have felt fairly normal. But it has come home to me. Going out, even for a walk, kind of lets the team down. We are not supposed to go out AT ALL unless absolutely necessary. I heard about a man who was arrested because he foolishly thought he could go to the car wash. 🙄 What was he thinking…

A friend had a nice post today about her mind shift. She had been anxious staying at home. But suddenly, she feels safe. Her casa is her nest. Her cocoon. She feels safe there. I feel the same. My casa in the sky is my eye upon the world. And my safe haven. I have my terrace. I can get fresh air. I uncovered my table and unstacked my chairs. The weather is beautiful, early spring weather with highs in the 60s.

My newly uncovered table on the terazza.

Finally, I had heard all the grocery stores would be closed for the weekend. So, this afternoon, I went out to pick up a few things I am low on. I went to our nearest store. The Gala market. I noted on the door, they are open tomorrow and also Sunday morning. Good to know! I saw a bunch of people standing around the door, everyone keeping about a six foot distance from each other. A woman was passing out numbers and plastic gloves. When someone left the store, she called the next number. So, eventually, I got my shopping done. I did not get near anyone. Ever. I also paid a visit to the farmacia. They have newly installed glass at the counter and they want you to stay a few feet away. They slide your product under the glass. I passed my credit card. They no longer accept cash. The town itself is like a ghost town. I feel very sorry for older folks living alone. No longer able to go out and interact with friends, it must be very lonely for them.
That’s the news from the front!
Stay safe…and wash your hands!

Corona virus 8 — lockdown

46 positive cases in Umbria.
This was yesterday. I’m amazed at how everyone is obeying the 1 meter distance thing. These old guys usually play cards but it’s hard to do that from a distance. I guess they are taking a break. But look how well they observe the distance rules!

Late last night, around 10PM here, Conte announced new stricter lockdown rules. All stores restaurants, bars will be closed. The better to restrict gatherings of people. I immediately lost it. I am always one to be fully prepared…and I had let the all important cat litter run out!
Just about this same time we heard from our friend Vera. She said they’ve been ordered to remain home with windows closed. The entire town is being disinfected between the hours of 11pm and 5am. I asked why. She said Cortona has cases of the virus. Their comune is Cortona. You may remember this town from Under the Tuscan Sun —- the book and movie. This is quite close to us…
So, a new dawn. Under more complete lockdown. We weren’t sure what to expect. We filled out the autocertificazione that we are required to carry, and headed out. Here’s what we found…

Good news…pet stores are considered food stores! So we got food and litter. All is well. Relief. I noted the green grocery stores are open, the fresh pasta shop, the rosticceria with ready made meals, the bakery, the butchers. The regular groceries have lines of people outside waiting their turn. All keeping the meter distance. I also saw the electronic store was open. That one confused me. We went OUT OF OUR COMUNE to buy pellets. (But just a little outside). This is against the rules. The stores selling pellets and firewood are open, a necessity. The worst businesses hurt are the bars and restaurants. You cannot congregate. But we also noticed 2 restaurants with big signs saying they are doing takeaway lunches and dinners! Thinking outside the box. Too bad bars can’t do that. I’m sorry for Bar Mary…and others.

This is the shuttered Bar Mary.😢

After we unloaded our cat litter, and a bunch of pellet for our stufa, I parked the car and paid a visit to our Alimentari downstairs. I was surprised to see he has a table blocking access about midway up the middle of the shop. The proprietor (Angelo) was behind a newly installed glass barrier at the counter. I needed cheese, he held it up (he was about 10 feet away) I said “va bene”. He told me the price. He came near the table and leaned out to leave it for me and retreated. I put the money on the table…luckily I had exact change. Very strange.
I’m sure doing this lockdown will in the end get control of this virus. All my friends in the US I advise you to self quarantine and limit your contacts with others. Even if there’s no official edict. I’m heartened by the reactions of everyone I know here. We are all in this together. And it will get better if we all work together. 💕

Baci e abbracci my friends…and wash your hands!🙂

Corona Virus 7

New count for Umbria as of yesterday…38 positives.
Last night I watched the news with pictures of empty cities across Italy. Florence, usually chock-a-block with tourists, totally empty streets. Rome and Venice the same. St Marks in Venice … a vast empty space but for the pigeons. Sad. Lonely.
Our Piazza is empty. There is no market today. An unheard of occurrence. Even in the case of a holiday they usually move the market forward a day.

A photo showing people are taking the edict to keep a meter distance between individuals seriously. These three just randomly met in the Piazza.

Today we took a break from our enforced solitude and had lunch with friends at a nearby restaurant, L’Abbazia di Montecorona — named after the virus…kidding! It is just near Umbertide,  at the foot of Montecrona next to the Tiber river so it was within our Comune and legal for us to visit. Lunch is all you can do now since all restaurants are closed after six. It was a gorgeous day. Just like spring. Brilliant cloudless blue skies and temperatures in the 60sF.

Samantha, the proprietor. She said it was un disastro. So many bookings canceled. It’s hard for a restaurant to survive on lunch trade alone.

Look at the size of our table. It felt like we were miles apart. That one meter thing is a “Thing”.

It is a beautiful space in the old Abbey.

I ordered two custard flans in Gorgonzola sauce for my first course.

Outside, you can see the whole complex with the attached church and crypt. The upper church was consecrated in 1105.

The octagonal campanile, it was perhaps adapted from a pre-existing defensive tower in the 14th century.

Stay safe everyone, and…wash your hands! ☺️

Lockdown! Corona virus 6

Well, as they say, this is one fine kettle of fish we are all in! Last night our Prime Minister decreed all of Italy is a Red Zone. So as of this morning we are all locked down.

To put this in perspective. We are restricted to our own Comune, (the locality that governs our neighborhoods near here). We cannot leave unless we have an urgent medical or work reason. And we’d need proof and a certification to leave. We can still go out for a nice walk outside…which is beautiful right now by the way…

But, within our Comune, are plenty of food stores and shops. It is why I love Umbertide. We have all we need here. The stores are all open during the day (except weekends). So we can go grocery shopping…but not together! Only one person per household allowed in the store. And we must always keep at least one meter apart.

The bars and restaurants are open, but only until 6PM. So this means, if you want to eat out you’ll need to do lunch. This will be hard on all bars and restaurants. Essentially this is a curfew starting at 6PM.

The worst thing I’ve heard is that our weekly market is canceled. This is huge. First for the merchants…very hard for them to lose this income. And second for all of us who count on shopping every week…not to mention the socializing that takes place. People come from all around the hills nearby and it’s a big social occasion. I guess this is why it’s cancelled. So sad.

Of course this all too, shall pass. We can get through it and I personally think it is necessary. It will slow and stop the virus. Then life will return to normal.
Stay safe everyone, enjoy this enforced solitude, and WASH YOUR HANDS!!