We’ll be honest – we had started to write another “everything’s great, come check us out” story. But it didn’t feel right, it simply didn’t. We have to face the fact that it’ll be awhile before everything will get back to normal, and in the meantime, Italy is crying for all the wonderful people (mostly elderly) who we have lost during this crisis. Why do we feel we cannot ignore what is happening? Because the whole world is involved, not only us, and there is no pulling wool over anyone’s eyes.
However, we want to take this opportunity to shout out to that world that we are proud of our people! Since the end of January, when the state of emergency was declared, many things have happened, some bad, some worse (and we are certainly not going to bring up any political issues in this context), but one thing has shone through all the darkness and pain; the capability of this incredible population to put its own personal worries aside, and help those in need. The force behind the medical vocation. Those amazing ,AMAZING doctors and nurses who are still, while we write, giving up their lives in order to help gravely sick patients get back theirs…..and with “giving up their lives” we are not using metaphores, since too many of them succumbed to the virus they were fighting.
Members of the Italian Red Cross Society have stepped up to the task, and when we consider that a great number of them are young people, wanting to do their bit for the country in a time of tremendous need, our hearts swell with pride and gratitude. Same goes for members of the “Protezione Civile”, a national corps which operates all over Italian territory, wherever necessity calls. Needless to say, all of these people are volunteers, and have been subjected to enormous stress and risks in the last month, with endless shifts and great responsability, but they never draw back from the duty they have so unselfishly taken on. We bow down with gratitude to the dedication of all of these extraordinary men and women.
As always, the Italians are demonstrating great adaptability – our creativity cannot be put down, even (or maybe especially) at a time like this; in our towns (Bedonia and Borgotaro, and possibly elsewhere too), groups have been set up including willing dressmakers, or enthusiasts who have a sewing machine, in order to make face masks for all of the population. Whoever has suitable material in stock is donating it for the cause, and members of the afore-mentioned societies have been visiting every family in town – including the many hamlets outside the centre, personally delivering masks, disposable gloves and a list of useful phone numbers to each and every person.
The “Stay at home” order has obviously plunged everyone into difficulty, but some have more on their plate than others – families with small children are at their wits end, although many are lucky enough to have some green space around their homes. So….the famous creativity we were mentioning earlier – it just oozes out of us! One example; Alberto Chiappari, a fellow townsman, pondered on how to unite his love of theatre (he is a member of a local theatrical laboratory) and that of books, and donate some useful and fun time to the community. He came up with the idea of reading and interpreting fables from a famous book written by Gianni Rodari – “Favole al Telefono” …Fables on the Phone, and posting each one on Fb for children. His effort is being greatly appreciated by the kids – AND the parents!
A similar initiative is being carried out by both the local playschool and the tourist office, who have created videos for Youtube, in which the carers and collaborators tell stories, demonstrate simple experiments for kids to try at home (how to make “slime” for example!), and other activities.
The Mayor of Bedonia, Gianpaolo Serpagli, is very much on the ball, with his frequent posts on Facebook informing us on all the latest decrees and orders, on any new services for those in need, or simply to answer all the questions or doubts expressed. With his calm, encouraging, almost fatherly manner (albeit a young man), he speaks to his citizens with determination and hope; stick to the rules, he says, and we WILL get through this. We want to believe him.
There is no denying the fact that our people come together when the going gets rough. Our noisy, gesticulating citizens are basically good-hearted folk, who stand united in this tragic time. The news is becoming more and more encouraging by the day; the number of deaths in Italy is lowering, which is a positive sign that this pandemic is slowly tapering out, so we hope that the other countries affected will soon follow suite. In the meantime, our (big) hearts go out to everyone, everywhere, as we know only too well how hard it is to be separated from our loved ones during these strenuous times.
Italy is going to bounce back – stronger and more beautiful than before. World, just you wait and see…..