Coronavirus Epidemic: How does an optimistic Italian citizen survive daily life on lockdown?

Brunella Pernigotti shares a glimpse of her daily life from Turin, Italy.


Photo by Brunella Pernigotti: the empty arcades in the Turin center.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

In the world we Italians are known for our rowdy cheerfulness, exuberant creativity and also for the tendency not to respect laws and rules. We love being together and eating well. Therefore, and even more so in these days, we are all suffering from forced isolation and the severe rules that force us not to leave our house.

Italy on Lockdown

A week has already passed since our government decreed the closure of the whole country: not only schools, cinemas and theaters, but also bars, restaurants, parks. We can only go out for food supplies and for health reasons, otherwise we can be reported for an epidemic spreading.

Staying indoors is not easy. We have changed our habits: I wait for the television news to find out about the latest figures of the infected and dead people and I always try to interpret the expression on the faces of the interviewed persons, whether they are specialist doctors or politicians. I must confess that their desperate eyes frighten me more than the words they say.

The situation is very serious and we are all called to be responsible and I must admit that the Italians are responding well and with discipline. And despite the fear and anxiety for ourselves and our loved ones, we try to take courage over the phone, via social media and from balconies. For example, if I feel alone, I look out from my window and see all the other windows open, with people walking on the balcony, telephoning, and maybe sunbathing. At 6 in the afternoon we all go out to the balcony to sing and dance.

Photograph: The view from my balcony of a fellow Italian sunbathing.

Now it is evening and silence is falling again in the city, another day has passed: I read, studied, talked on the phone to friends near and far and I was able to fight depression, fear for my health and concern for my work that I have lost. #everythingwillbefine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Today is Wednesday and in my normal life I used to teach in the afternoon and to go to my dance class in the evening. I’ve always loved my job and dancing, so being forced to stop all my activities without even having an idea of when all this nightmare will end weighs on me unspeakably.

I console myself by reasoning that luckily we are all well at the moment, (my loved ones and I), but this does not help me pass the time. However, today I had an idea that raised my spirits: in my apartment building there are two elderly people and also two heart patients who live alone. I offered to go shopping for them and they accepted: leaving the house to do food supplies is allowed. So I collected their orders on a list and in the afternoon I will go to the supermarket!

To go out you must have a sanitary mask and disposable gloves, then on your return you must wash your hands well and disinfect the handles. I am happy to have found something that will help me not to feel useless. I am not the only one who had this idea: many similar initiatives arose spontaneously in condominiums throughout Italy.

This dramatic moment is reviving the acts of humanity and solidarity that I thought were disappeared. Meanwhile, we continue to hope and wait for good news!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

In these days there is a joke that partly quotes a phrase from the film “Frankenstein Junior”: it could be worse, the Internet might not work. In fact, the obligation to stay at home has changed our lives and only thanks to the network we are able to continue to work and carry out the necessary activities at banks, post offices and administrative offices.

The apartment below mine is rented by students, since I live in a neighborhood near the University of Turin, and this morning one of them discussed his online degree, receiving the academic title of doctor: they are celebrating at home and I’ve told him from my balcony I am happy for him.

The internet also serves to make us feel connected with friends and with the outside world: at this time when fear, stress and depression are attacking us since we have suspended all our daily activities, many specialists in meditation and yoga techniques are creating events online in which everyone can participate: they offer live-videos where you can interact with them who teach us how to relax and lower the level of psychological tension.

Self-portrait at home with my prayer to the world: “Please think, wake up!” 

Unfortunately, to this date, the news in my city is still of a long row of cars bearing coffins that come out of hospitals: inside there are people killed by COVID-19 and they are escorted to the cemetery by the army… Many people wonder if this intervention by the army is appropriate, because we are not a country accustomed to seeing the streets patrolled by soldiers in uniform that limit us in our freedom, but I’m afraid that at the moment there is no other way to convince people, who still believe that this is an easy walk, in taking the situation seriously as it should be.

Stay safe, stay well!


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