Category Archives: Covid

Autumn market

Our weather has been perfect fall weather. We reach the upper 60s in the day. And it chills down to the 40s at night. We almost always wake to dense fog in the morning, which takes until around noon-ish to burn off. Rather dreary starts to our days. I should be used to it, but I’m not.

Town wall and buildings inside — in the fog.

Very suddenly, the fog miraculously begins to burn off and finally the sun shines brightly. Nothing like blue skies and sunshine to lighten the mood.

Despite the new Code Orange lockdown, we have the normal market outside. One of the two bars is closed. The other is doing carry out. Irene was bustling across the Piazza with trays of tiny cups of espresso. I hope this doesn’t hurt them too much. Bar Mary is less of a young people’s bar so it will keep doing the takeout. Cafe Centrale is the bar with the big nightlife which attracts many young people who don’t follow the rules and I’m sure they are one of the reasons our cases are up. I’m sorry for Diego, the owner though. He says he may go out of business. He can’t manage on just takeout, or only daytime traffic. It is too bad because he has poured a lot of money into that bar.

Anyway, we went out to do our shopping. Here are some photos.
In the autumn you will always find mounds of chestnuts. And sometimes one of the stands will have a roaster going. In the foreground is one of the weirdest vegetables I’ve ever seen. It is called Gobbi. Also known as cardoni and cardi in Italian. And cardoons in English. It is a lot of trouble to prepare and I only have done it once. Not worth the work.

These next ones are the winter squashes. The word for all squash is zucca. The second one is the gigantic zucca which they sell by the piece. They lop off however much you want.

And finally the cheese. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the cheese in Umbria is probably 95% pecorino. It is sheep’s cheese. There are a few small artisanal goat cheese places which I want to try someday. But mostly they make pecorino here, and in many styles but it is still pecorino…

Today, for the first time in my life, someone said cheerio to me. A British gentleman who lives in town. I knew OF him but we had never met. Today we were introduced to him in the market — Robin, and his dog Zorro — by Susan and Gary. He is going back to England soon. Driving. It is a long way. He goes up through Switzerland, then into Germany, France and the Low Countries of Netherlands and Belgium, and finally across the English channel. He said he’d take his time. He says the only finicky ones are the French. Susan asked how long they had been like that , he said probably for the last thousand years! I had to laugh. And then he said cheerio! So I will also sign off with a cheerful cheerio to you all — stay COVID safe and wear your masks! Andrà tutto bene 🌈

Umbria is Code Orange

Yesterday it was announced that several regions were re-classified as Code Orange in the color-coded alert colors of yellow, orange and red. Here is a map. We are dead center just east of Tuscany which is also Code Orange.

Seeing this graph makes my heart sink.

The new restrictions take affect tomorrow. All bars and restaurants closed except for take-away and delivery. Shops and necessary services to include pharmacies, supermarkets, food stores, and tabbacchi remain open. All theaters, cinemas, gyms, museums, and swimming pools closed. Curfew 10pm to 5am. No one is allowed to leave their Comune unless for work or emergency reasons.

So it goes. Again. All that work in the Spring lockdown was for naught in the second surge. I am sure these new measures will slow it again. This is really difficult for Italy. At least we have the good news from Pfizer that the vaccine they are developing is proving very effective. So soon, we hope, that can be distributed.
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Of course, there is always something better to focus on. For me it is again the Olio Nuovo. You may be getting a little tired of posts about the new olive oil but it is such a part of Umbrian life, it cannot be ignored!

So far you’ve seen the oil which we received from friends whom we helped with the harvest. We had it in a dish with untoasted bread. Then we had it on bruschetta the next day. it is excellent quality oil.

But every year I also order oil from our friend Fabio who has a large orchard and makes his living from selling it. He told us he had gotten 400 liters this year and it is the best he has ever had. He also mentioned it is the greenest oil he’s ever seen. I had already ordered from him before receiving the oil from our friends. I figured out we use around 15-20 liters a year. So we are set until the next harvest. I spoke to our Italian teacher and she told me her family of five uses maybe 30 liters. When it is so good and so plentiful it becomes a big part of the Umbrian diet. It is also very healthy.

Last night we opened a bottle of Fabio’s oil. And it was fabuloso! We had it on bruschetta. Also, for dipping in my dipping dish. It is indeed, GREEN! I also took some photos of the haul. Fabio sells oil. All his oil is non-filtered, and the grove is not treated with any pesticides. His website is Olivoil.bio. If anyone is lucky enough to be here, and need oil, I’m sure you’d love the Olivoil.

GREEN!!

Tomorrow, I think I’ll focus on the autumnal market. Luckily, this lockdown they have not shut down the weekly Umbrian markets. I suppose if we got to Code Red, that might happen. Let’s hope this one will slow it so we don’t get to Red. Here’s hoping the US can get some good policies in place to slow it there as well.
Stay safe everyone! Wear your masks! Andrà tutto bene 🌈

Sadness

Umbertide after six during lockdown lite. Silent. Dark. Damp. The fog rolls in. Winter is nigh. Cold. Depressing. Winter. All our efforts were for naught. Sadly, the Covid cases in Italy rise exponentially. During our last lockdown it was the beginning of spring here. Each day grew longer, each day grew warmer. Things began to grow. It was so much easier to accept then. So much harder as we do the opposite. We head down that dark tunnel into winter.

Even in Umbria, we are now listed as one of the regions with the fastest growth. Umbertide, my small town, is showing 8-10 new cases a day. The hospital here is virtually shut down due to most of the staff testing positive for the virus. We fully expect a complete lockdown in the very near future. The numbers are out of control and drastic measures are necessary. So many have Covid fatigue. It is a worldwide phenomenon. I have it too. I am stoic about it. I can’t change it.

I also watch the disaster happening in the US. The daily new cases climbed above 100,000 yesterday for the first time. And yet, nothing is being done to slow it down. I read there were 30,000+ new cases and hundreds of deaths attributed to the maskless political rallies. It will grow and grow and spread and kill. I’m very sad for the US. At least, here there is an effort to slow things again. Sigh.

To bring things into focus for myself, I am trying to remember other times of troubles. I think of London during the Blitz. Years of bombing, sirens, taking shelter in the metro tunnels. Rationed food. Deprivation. Loss of life and loved ones. Their time of tribulation. Our time of tribulation is now. We must rise to it. It will pass.
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I am sorry for such a downer post. I AM feeling a little down. Let’s hang together and work to last through this thing. We will have a vaccine sometime. And always remember … Andrà tutto bene.🌈

New semi-lockdown in Italy

Italia in semi lockdown…
’New anti-Covid rules and regulations in force from midnight Sunday to 24 November.

  • Bars, pubs, restaurants and gelaterie and pasticcerie must close at 18.00.
  • Only four people to a table (except for groups from the same household).
  • Home delivery of food is allowed until 24.00. No food can be eaten in the street outside the take-away or nearby.
  • Going out of your Comune — ‘You are strongly recommended to stay in your Comune (using public or private transport) and not go into another Comune (or Region) where you are not resident or do not have a house. Exceptions to this are for work, study, health reasons or to carry out activities or use services not available in your Comune.
  • Receiving people in your home who are not part of your household — You are strongly advised not to have people in your home who are not part of your household. Exceptions to this are for work or particularly urgent situations that may occur and to wear a mask when people are in your home who are not part of your household.
  • No receptions or parties are allowed after religious ceremonies – No receptions and parties allowed either inside or outside after religious ceremonies such as weddings, communions and baptisms.
  • Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and betting parlours – closed – Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and betting parlours of all sorts are to stay closed.
  • Open air performances are not allowed.
  • Museums do not have to close. (ALWAYS check if they are open anyway, and you will probably have to book).
  • Swimming pools and gyms remain closed – Swimming pools, gyms, spas and wellness centres must close.
  • Amateur ‘contact’ sport continues to be banned.
  • Schools – The materna, elementare and medie schools remain open as before. In high schools, 75% of lessons will be ‘live’ in the school buildings and 25% online at home.
  • Closing specific piazzas – Mayors may decide to close piazzas where crowds are likely to form, after 21.00.
  • Live congresses, conferences, etc. are banned – Live congresses, conferences and similar are not allowed. Even local council meetings must take place online.

Source for translation Il Sole 24 Ore and Conte’s press conference at lunchtime Sunday.
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I can’t help but be annoyed by this. After all we went through in the spring. I lay this right at the feet of the Italians who all went on vacation and partied like the Virus was on vacation too. But most of all, the Authorities allowed too many visitors into Italy from other countries who were not doing enough to slow the virus in their OWN country to come here with absolutely no quarantine or restrictions. Now, because of their laxity we have to pay, yet again, the price and try to slow the Virus. 😡

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…