CoronaVirus hit Italy like an avalanche.

…we are simply one animal species among many and we are now the preferred prey of an unknown virus, in front of which we are defenseless.

By Brunella Pernigotti in Turin, Italy

March 14, 2020 – It’s a strange Saturday afternoon. The streets in the center of Turin, where I live, are empty and an unreal silence reigns everywhere. Normally at this hour there are many people who come and go on foot and by car, public transport is full of people, all shopping in crowded shops, or walking on the bank of the river Po.

Today we are all at home, afraid and in silence, as if, making noise, the virus could discover and hit us. It’s all so strange! Only a month ago the news of the dangerous virus arrived as an echo far from countries unrelated to our daily lives, we would never have thought that it would soon arrive like an avalanche on us, in Italy, too.

Yet it happened. First Lombardy, the outbreak of the infection, was declared as “red area”, so schools, offices, shops have closed, then also Veneto, then some provinces of Piedmont, the region where I live. Eventually all northern Italy was locked down, but it was not enough because people did not believe the alarm and continued to travel and meet in public places.

So the hospitals started to sound the alarm: too many infected arrive per day and we cannot hospitalize them all in intensive care! And many, too many die! At that point Italy was locked down completely: police and the army control who moves on foot, by car, on public transport.

Yesterday the parks also closed because people went there running and taking walks. It is something new for all of us who are used to being free to move. But it was necessary to stop. Stop and reflect. Yes, because the emergency caused by this virus has a characteristic that differentiates it from any other emergency that has occurred in the world in human memory: it does not stop and does not move by human will and knows no borders, political opinions, races and prejudices.

It is carrying out a sort of natural selection that is unspeakably painful for us: it affects the weakest of us. But in being isolated, each one at home, here in Italy, we are rediscovering the value of affections, solidarity, facing together this tragedy: like a herd of animals in front of an external predator we react by protecting our loved ones, our weaker relatives and we understand how precious our elders are.

Will we learn the lesson our Mother Earth is teaching us? I hope so, because this is an important signal that makes us downsize and makes us understand that we are simply one animal species among many and we are now the preferred prey of an unknown virus, in front of which we are defenseless. Take care of yourself and don’t lose your humanity!


Brunella Pernigotti lives in Turin, Italy. Is a teacher, a writer and a photographer. Published a novel and a book of tales and is a photographer with ten one-man exhibitions of photographs. Is a member of the board of a no-profit association of Turin, “Tribù del Badnightcafè”, that organizes cultural and artistic events.

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