Day 1 of complete Italian lockdown: we try to stay positive.
“Mom! So are we in quarantine?” asked my 14 year old daughter while passing by my desk on her way to breakfast at 10 am.
“Yes, we are!” was my answer. She was already uninterested in my reply, as she was glued to her phone.
Two words my daughters will never forget are “Coronavirus” and “quarantine”. They are young teenage women who woke up today and sent Happy Women’s Day messages to their girlfriends, who, just like them, woke up to the reality of having to stay quarantined for another three weeks.
They don’t fully understand the gravity of the situation. After all their interests and priorities are elsewhere (boys, music, Netflix, feminism, etc.). Still, they do understand what it means to lose five weeks of school. We were grounded two weeks ago, when the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy hit the news on February 22.
We live above our winery in Chiarano, a small village of 3000 people in the province of Treviso, Italy. We are 40 minutes drive away from Venice, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and one of the first places hit by the virus.
Now, two weeks after the first news, we are in lockdown. We can’t leave the area, and no one can come in. How are they going to enforce that? Will there be police or military standing guard on the province’s border?
We don’t know. I have a feeling that we don’t yet fully understand how this lockdown is going to impact our lives.
Up until now, we just had to cancel flights to Denmark, where my husband Pier was supposed to do a tasting of our wines. He also canceled his spring trip, where he was going to meet personally with our most important customers. We had tastings canceled – and at the beginning, received unpleasant messages from people who became afraid of us because we are from Northern Italy. One particular message started with “I don’t mean to be rude, but I can tell you that it would not be popular at all if you would visit…”
Thankfully we recieved more messages of concern for our well-being, which makes us feel cared for and loved. The truth is, living here isn’t scary, we aren’t afraid of going to the supermarket, or to a doctor’s appointment. Life is all around us, and Italy continues to be the most amazing country in the world. Our culture, our art, our food, wines, and La Dolce Vita will never go away, not even when a virus disrupts our lives.
Our business depends on tourists and international clients, who all of a sudden became unreachable. So we sat here, in our kitchen above the winery, drinking our wine, talking about what’s next, and how we can make up for lost sales. We have pallets of wine sitting here, ready to be shipped to the US, Denmark, and Holland. Now, we don’t even know if they can be picked up by the logistics company. We are also very worried about the image Italy is having globally, and we cannot predict the long-term effects of this situation.
What we’ve learned in these two past weeks is that we can’t plan. What was said yesterday could be changed by governmental decisions today. What we agreed on yesterday has no basis anymore today. The uncertainty is the hardest part.
Last night, when we heard in the news that our province was going under lockdown for three weeks, our brains went into hyperactivity, trying to understand what this will mean for us, for our business, and the world around us. We are in total confusion as we try to look into the future we can’t see. We go day-by-day.
What I can say though, is that this morning waking up didn’t feel different. The view from the living room was still beautiful; the bakery was open, and so was the local grocery store. The vineyards can’t be put on hold, and life moves on, slower than usual, but always the Sfriso way, trying to keep it positive.
This is the first of a series of diary posts of what the next three weeks will look like.