Category Archives: Covid

Covid resurgence

Unfortunately for the human race, Covid-19 is making a resurgence. Here in Italy we had almost 7,500 new positives yesterday. We aren’t as bad as France, Germany, UK. Czech Republic, and Spain, many of whom are taking drastic measures to try to slow the disease.

The figures below come from The Local website.
Italy’s health authorities on Wednesday reported 7,332 new cases within the past 24 hours, a figure that exceeds the record high of 6,557 seen on March 21st. Italy is testing a lot (between Tuesday and Wednesday there were 152,196 tests) but this is still concerning. The percentage of swabs coming back positive has also risen, to 8.4%. (The figure on Tuesday was 5.4%)

Earlier on Wednesday a leading Italian virologist warned that a second lockdown could be needed over Christmas, saying it would allow Italy to “reset the system, lower the transmission of the virus and boost contact tracing.”

US Covid news from The Washington Post:

In many places where case counts are rising, political leaders are reluctant to impose new lockdowns, because the public is tired of them. But that creates something of a Catch-22: The most reliable way to reverse big outbreaks of this virus has been through strict crackdowns. In the U.S.: The virus is spreading in every region, with the highest case counts in the South and Midwest.

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On a lighter note. A couple of days ago I went for a walk. I drove a short way to a path I had been seeing ever since we moved here and I had always wanted to walk it. It was a glorious fall day. The late afternoon sun was slanting as it only does in the Fall when the sun is low in the sky. Here are a few pictures.

The path.
The tobacco in the fields is turning yellow. Ready for harvest.
Someone’s ready for winter.
Partially harvest tobacco field.

Everyone stay safe. We will probably start staying away from restaurants etc. since it is all inside dining here now. 🌈 Andrà tutto bene.

Weekend – Out and about – Photos

The weather wasn’t so nice. We had lots of rain off and on, wind and cool temperatures. Some of the storms were downright scary looking. I love watching the weather approach from our high position. I can see the rain marching towards us, eclipsing the mountains.

Montone on it’s hilltop.
North in the direction of Citta di Castello.

I went to visit a friend and see her new pool on Friday afternoon (it is amazing!). She lives in Castel Rigone on top of the mountains between here and Lago Trasimeno. I took a couple of pictures along the way.

Olive grove. The picking season is nearing and it’s going to be a whopper.
View of Umbertide down in the valley.

Things are not going well with Covid-19 in many places now. France, Spain and the UK have lockdowns in parts of the country. Their new case numbers are skyrocketing. Italy has not been as bad as them but the numbers are steadily rising and a new proclamation is due to come out from the National Government on Wednesday. The early intel says they will mandate masks all the time both inside and out for all the country. Many regions have already done this on their own. I also heard there will be an 11PM curfew for Bars. Maybe this will help. Our schools have been back in session for two weeks and I haven’t heard any bad news from that. Of course the US is way out of control. I look at the maps of the new infections growth and the whole north of the country is red with higher cases daily. Now that school is back in, and the weather is cooler, people are inside more so the cases grow.

Be careful everyone. Wear those masks and avoid crowded situations. 🌈 Andrà tutto bene!

This and that

We got back home on Friday afternoon. Our cats were very happy their full time staff was back. Outside in the evening they had a concert in the Piazza. Very nice classical music. The chairs were well spaced for the social distancing, for both the spectators and the musicians.

Today I made a big pot of soup. I hunted and gathered in the kilometer zero market on Saturday. I bought a big bunch of beattole aka, beet greens. And a butternut squash. Among other things. Here’s a picture of one of my favorite onions. I was talking about it with a friend yesterday so I thought I’d include it. They have enormous piles of them and they are mild.

My hand is included so you can see they are big!

Otherwise, I’ve still been watching the Covid cases in both Italy and the US. A friend of mine seemed to imply we, over here in Italy, are being mislead about the severity in the US. That it is not that bad there… That is not true. I‘m watching the US news, and I’m watching the statistics on the Johns Hopkins, WHO, CDC, and Worldometer websites.

I know it is bad in the US. People say it is because of population differences. But many stats are adjusted for that. The figures I’m seeing on the news, CNN and Fox ( I try to be bi-partisan 🙂) say taking into account population differences – the US is 4% of the world population with 23% of the worlds Covid cases. And The US death toll is more than twice as high as that of the country with the second-highest death rate, Brazil. So that says a lot.

There is still a ban on people traveling from the US to most of Europe until they can get the infection rates down. The magic number is when the US has an average of 15.3 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days. I have noticed US numbers are slowly coming down which is good, but it still has a ways to go. 
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— Italy has around 60 million population with 1,458 cases on 9/13
— US has around 350 million population with 33,506 new cases on 9/13

Doing the math. The US has about 6 times the population of Italy. So if you multiply 1,458 x 6 = 8,748 new cases which would be how much the US would have on 9/13 if their infection rates were the same as Italy. That is 24,758 more cases than Italy in one day, adjusted for population.

It tells me the much harder lockdown in Italy has succeeded. Life here is quasi normal. I don’t think the US can say that yet. Masks are key. They are still here everywhere. Masks help a lot but the real help will be a vaccine. Here’s hoping 🤞
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Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene. 🌈

Rainy days and Mondays… 🎶

It is the last day of August. The summer has passed. It feels like fall. The temperature was in the upper 90s just a week ago and today it won’t get out of the 60s. It is also raining steadily. Soaking the fields. The growing season is nearly done. The corn is drying on the stalks. The sunflowers are sad and drying as well. The tobacco is halfway harvested. The wine harvest is just starting. I am sure the rain is not appreciated by the vineyards. But it is just raining for today so I imagine the growers can let the grapes dry in the next sunny days and all will be well.

1,365 new cases in Italy. The good news is the summer vacation season is over today. So I hope our numbers will steady, or better yet, decline. 23,000,000 people were on the road going home from vacation over the weekend ! Considering there are only 60,000,000 people in Italy, that is quite the onslaught. I’m glad I wasn’t out there.

School is scheduled to begin in person classes next week. The kids won’t have to wear masks, but the teachers will. I’m not sure of the reasoning for this. They had to scramble for more desks because kids traditionally sit at two person desks. Now they can’t. They also mandated the school buses only carry half of the capacity so there is a shortage of buses. Our Italian teacher told us they have a rule the kids can only be on the bus for 15 minutes. This is creating its own set of problems and issues. For example, her son rides a bus for an hour to his school. Now what? I don’t know the answer.

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Stay safe everyone. Sooner or later we will get that vaccine. It is the only thing that will really help end this thing. But we mustn’t rush the process. Better safe than sorry.
🌈 Andrà tutto bene!

Update on Covid here, and my morning walk today

I had a hard time with my title today. It is definitely not a pithy headline!

Numbers here in Italy have been fluctuating. For a few weeks they crept up steadily. Then the last couple of days they dropped from around 1,200 new cases a day to 800 or so. But yesterday it shot back up to above 1,400. Sigh. At least I know the people in charge are watching it carefully.

I am happy to note, since the closing of the discotheques and the new mask mandate our piazza has calmed considerably. No longer does Cafe Centrale have bands or loud music. They have a sign that all must wear masks. This has definitely dampened the party atmosphere. I am feeling good about this development.

There have been a couple of publicized issues here regarding anti-maskers. It is the law you must wear a mask on public transportation. A German tourist on a Vaporetto (bus boat) in Venice, was forced off the boat by fellow riders for repeatedly removing his mask. He was kept from reboarding by the passengers.

The MSC Italian cruise line started limited cruises out of Genoa along the Italian coast. They have taken extreme precautions to keep the ship virus free. They try to keep everyone in a bubble. All transport drivers are vetted. All shore tour guides are vetted. The rules are if you go into port you stay in your tour. A family decided to go off on their own in Naples even though they were told they could not. When they tried to re-board the ship they were denied. They were left in Naples.
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I’ve been very good with my walking since I decided to do it first thing when I get up. All my life I’ve excercised in the morning. For 20 years I rose at 5:30am to run. Then I changed to walking with my neighbor In Alexandria and we met outside at about 5:30am everyday. I find if I put off my walk until later, well, I simply won’t do it. It is also more pleasant in the morning. It’s cooler during these hot summer days for one thing. And I enjoy the quiet of the morning.

Today I walked along the river. Behind our house is a colony of feral cats. The latest batches of kittens are out and about. Someone built a little lean-to house covered with plastic and there is food out. No sign of mamma but here are two of the kittens. Tiny ones.

The Tiber in the still of the morning.

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Stay safe all…🌈 andrà tutto bene…spero di si!

Here and there…pandemic thoughts

In Europe the virus is making somewhat of a resurgence. France has become the new hot spot in Europe. As for Italy, we had 642 cases here yesterday, that is even with the numbers on May 23. It had gotten down to only 100 cases a day at one point. So, there is cause for concern. In my last post I made an error. The Italian officials have closed all of the Discotheques. The spread here, as in most other countries, is due to the young people flauting the rules, gathering in big groups, no social distancing, and no masks. The new cases everywhere are overwhelmingly among the young. But then, they bring it home to grandma and Mom and Dad who tend to get much sicker. I just heard we have 4 new cases in Umbertide. Kids who vacationed outside of Italy and brought it back.

In every country, people experience this pandemic in different ways, depending on what they do for a living, where they live, their race, etc. If they are poor and live in crowded conditions, must work, and have no health care, they have it much worse than someone who is say, a professional, perhaps a white collar worker allowed to work from home who still has insurance and income.

From a Washington Post article…
“Not everyone is experiencing the same level of stress, and everyone’s pandemic struggles differ. Any “essential” worker exposed to high-risk conditions day after day has more urgent concerns than someone merely stuck at home and missing out on summer barbecues.“

“No question, epidemic fatigue or pandemic fatigue is real. We are experiencing it,” Markel said. “But throughout human history, there have been terrible pandemics and contagious threats. Every civilization, every nation, has come through to the other side. And we will, too.”

I do know about epidemic fatigue. Just about everyone I know has it. Here in Italy we are a bit freer to do things, but everyone feels the threat of the virus, and has the fear of another lockdown. It kind of looms over us. The US hasn’t gotten there yet. They’ve got a ways to go but I see a downward trend so that’s a good thing. Still, that damn virus will loom over us all. Until we get a vaccine. But humans are pretty adaptive and resilient. Amazingly so. We will get through this…as long as we stay careful until then.

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Dinner out tonight. With new friends. We went to San Giorgio in the Piazza. It was nice to have a good amount of time to get to know each other better. Here are pictures of what I had to eat.

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I scored two big, fresh Porcini mushrooms yesterday at the market. They are destined to become tagliatelle funghi for dinner tonight. I adore these big meaty mushrooms. It is not possible to cultivate them, they must be gathered from the wild.

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Stay safe everyone. Now is not the time to let down our guard.🌈 Andrà tutto bene…

New Covid case in Umbertide

Our first Covid case in months has been announced by our Mayor. A man, who returned from travel in the north of Italy brought the Virus with him. He is being isolated and there is contact tracing so I’m hopeful this will be a one off. We will still stay vigilant.
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This is Sunday. Beautiful and hot. Just like August should be. Yesterday I made summer soup. A mish-mash of a few recipes I read. It is delish and people have asked for the recipe so I’ve included in the recipe bar above.

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Today, we decided to visit Calagrana for Pranzo. It had been too long. What a big crowd they had! Yay for them. A few pictures. The view from their terrace is always beautiful.

My lunch was excellent. My first course was amazing. Deconstructed gazpacho. But…I ate it before I thought to take a picture. Sorry. But I did take a picture of my next course. Seared tuna with a poached egg. Yum.

This next one is for my friend Jen who always loves anything fashion. These shoes, worn by the lady at the next table, and the purse to match, were amazing.

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Last night we had the most amazing cloud formation. I suppose it was a thunder head. It towered maybe 50,000 feet into the sky. Love the sun coming over the top. Or maybe it is not coming over the top. 🤔

Stay safe everyone! 🌈 andrà tutto bene.

Quiet week

Things have been changing around Europe (and the world) with the virus. Italy has had an uptick, but the numbers are still low compared to many countries like the US. And we have good tracking and testing methods in place. And quarantining.

We are having a lot of people from other places In the EU come in. As well as some other “allowed “ countries, also immigrants from many places. Many of these have brought the virus as a “gift” to us here in Italy. 😕

I’ve also been reading the US newspapers and watching this reopening of schools. I’m seeing it as a poorly thought out strategy. Super dangerous to so many.

In Georgia a high school opened. They said they couldn’t mandate the kids wear a mask. But they can punish a girl for wearing spaghetti straps, shorter skirts and scooped necklines (all prohibited by dress codes), yanking those girls out of class for “distracting” their fellow classmates with scandalous body parts like knee caps. 😳 oh my! Kneecaps! So tell me…if they can make a girl comply with dress codes…why can they not make the student populace wear a mask? Hmmmm? 🙄of course they can! Don’t be dopey.

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Life in Umbria is good, but we also have upticks. Seven Franciscan monk acolytes from all around the world arrived infected, and from them many other Monks in Assisi. A bunch in Passignano from an Romanian guest worker. Perugia has had an uptick also from guest workers. Marsciano 2 cases, both Belgian tourists. I, for one am hanging pretty close to home. Good food, wine and views. Summertime is splendid here.

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Andrà bene 🌈 You are your own keepers. Stay safe.💕

Pronto soccorso (emergency room)

Today I visited the Pronto Soccorso for the first time. It is a weekend and I am unable to see my doctor. Yesterday we decided to give our two cats their yearly bath. Simba objected. And at one point he went totally nuts and while struggling with him he bit down on my thumb, right through it and for a moment I wondered how I was going to get him to let go. And it hurt! A lot!

I know a cat bite is one of the dirtiest bites you can get. I’ve also heard horror stories. I asked a friend of mine who used to work with animals and she said a veterinarian she knew lost her thumb due to a cat bite. That kind of lit a fire under me. I am never anxious to go to a doctor or a hospital, or worse, an emergency room. But we live in Umbertide. We have a hospital and we can even walk there. So we walked over to the Pronto Soccorso.

We rang the bell and explained why we were there. I had to fill out a form about how I was feeling today (Covid related) and they took my temperature. Then I got to go in. I had to go alone as they won’t let more than one at a time. I was pleased I understood everything they asked me and could answer all the questions. My Italian has improved quite a lot I’m happy to say.

The doctors were nice, interested because I am American. One even looked up Virginia on his phone and started listing the states all around Virginia. I showed them my Tessera Sanitaria, my health card enrolling me in the system here. They were surprised but I explained I live here and am in the health system.

There was no discussion about the cat bite. It seemed almost a given that one must get treated for a bite from a cat. They examined my thumb and redressed it. Then they gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics and dressed my wound. I have to return in 6 weeks for a booster tetanus shot. The visit cost nothing. I do love the Italian health care system 💕.

Afterwards we walked back and I drove to a farmacia to get my prescription filled. All in all a painless (mostly 🙂) visit. I’m glad I broke down and went. I won’t be so reticent in the future.

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Yesterday and today I made pesto. The Basil is going wild. I harvested these two. They aren’t so pretty and bushy now. If you want to keep your basil producing you must cut it back as it starts to flower down to just above the juncture with two small leaves at the intersection of the stem. These small lives will grow into new, robust basil branches. I have regular basil and violeta.

Here is the jar of regular pesto I made.

This one is an experiment. Thai basil pesto. It has a dark color because of the purple leaves, and it has Thai flavors like fish sauce, sesame oil, etc. I haven’t eaten it yet. I will report back.

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I have more to report as today was a busy day, but I will save it for tomorrow 🙂

It is still ungodly hot but supposed to break on Tuesday I think. Stay safe y’all. 🌈

Grocery delivery to new friends

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a follower of this blog. She and her husband had purchased a vacation home here and would be arriving in late July. They are Italian/American dual citizens, which allows them to come. One of the few ways a person from the US can come here now.

Anyway, she wanted to understand what Quarantine really meant. Many people think it is like when we were all under lockdown here. When we could go out to the grocery or for an essential reason with a declarazione. But that’s not what it is. It means when you get to Italy, you take private transport (no train or bus), like a rental car, and drive directly to your house or hotel. Then you don’t leave for 2 weeks. And you can’t have anyone inside your house, like a workman, or friend.

Our new friends don’t have a way to get groceries or anything here so I volunteered to do grocery shopping for them. Turns out they could order on-line at the local Coop and we could pick up and deliver.

I didn’t want to arrive at their place with €300 worth of groceries and perishables unless I was sure I could find it. So, on my way back from the hairdressers I did some recon, and found their house. Interesting concept. An old farm complex that has been made into apartments. You’ll find these all over Italy. Especially Umbria and Tuscany. I took pictures of the view. The first one, if you look on the hill opposite, with the rows of cypresses, is Calagrana. Nice pool for the community.

This one is the opposite side of the valley with it’s pretty olive groves and the crops growing down below.

And this one is in a different direction. You can only see those high mountains when you are up high yourself.

We went out this evening after we got their key from Bar Mary where their Architect, Roberto, left it. All worked out fine. We got two grocery carts full of stuff and transported it in our car to their new place. We unpacked everything. It was cool that the Coop has color coded bags. One for refrigerated, one for freezer, and one for non-refrigerated. We stowed the cold stuff, put in the white wine. I for one, would be hankering for a vino when I arrived. But that’s me! 

We are getting a nice favor from them as well. Luther is out of Cigars and we asked them to bring some for us. Luther ordered and sent to them. Also a few wishes I had for a few items. Always nice. And since we can’t go get more we rely on the kindness of friends. 🙂💕
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Be careful everyone. It is not looking good in the United States. 😢. 🌈