Feature: Italians enter Easter holiday resigned to quarantine limits

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-12 22:02:20|Editor: huaxia

ROME, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Italian residents are settling into what has become the "new normal" under the rules of the national lockdown including staying at home during what may be Italy's biggest religious holiday.

On this Easter Sunday in Rome, people instead watched religious services online, and the traditional hours-long Easter lunch with family and friends was replaced with something cooked at home or delivered from scores of restaurants providing special Easter meals.

Libby Greenfield is a cook working in part as a delivery driver while the restaurant where she works is closed to the public.

"People are so glad to see me," Greenfield told Xinhua partway through her Easter delivery services. "Part of it is because they're looking forward to a nice meal. But everyone also wants to chat for a few minutes because they're so eager to have some human contact."

More than a month into Italy's national lockdown against the novel coronavirus, most are looking at the changes to their daily lives through a philosophical lens.

"This lockdown is like going back to young adulthood for me, a time when I spent most days just painting," Luisa Anarchia, an artist who normally splits her time between Rome and Tuscany and gets a large part of her income from a rental property. She said she didn't have any special plans for Easter this time around.

"Before the lockdown, I was going back and forth between my two homes and looking after an apartment I rented out, and painting now and then when I could," she said. "Now, I have all the time I want for painting. How nice it was when painting was the main thing."

The lockdown the Italian government first put in place starting March 10 now prohibits residents from leaving their homes for any but a small handful of reasons, including food shopping or medical visits. Easter Sunday is no exception.

Anarchia's story about how she adapted to this new reality is echoed in different ways by other Roman residents.

"Everything's closed, there's no work to do, no routine," said Giada Malchevada Piani, a hotel worker who was sent home off when the lockdown went into effect. Like Anarchia, she said she doesn't have specific Easter plans.

"I have tried not to focus on what I can't do any longer, and to focus on what I can do," she said. "I've been spending time on online yoga classes, staying in touch with family and friends better than I normally would, using video chats. What's the alternative?"

Vanessa Arvelo is an administrative manager for a major ophthalmology studio in the Dominican Republic. She was visiting her brother in Rome when the lockdown started, and soon after all flights between Europe and her native country were canceled.

For Easter, Arvelo said she was preparing a special meal with her brother and his girlfriend; other than that it would be another ordinary day.

"The strangest thing for me is the feeling of being stranded with no idea how long it will last: Will I be here two more weeks? Two more months?" Arvelo said. "I can still do some of my work from here, but the studio back in Santo Domingo has also been impacted, so there is less work than normal."

Arvelo went on: "In Rome, it is strange to have so many limits on what I am allowed to do," she said. "I'm not at liberty to go out, to enjoy the city, to see people. I am renting a room in an apartment and can only occasionally leave, only for very specific reasons. I don't want to dwell on the limitations but it is very constricting."

Gianpiero Cognoli, a Rome-born actor and writer is barred from returning to London, his permanent base. He said the lockdown has transformed Rome, a city that is close to his heart.

"I am a naturally affectionate person and one of the reasons I return to Rome when I can is because it's natural for me to hug friends and kiss their cheeks and express myself physically, and in Rome that was natural," Cognoli told Xinhua.

"Now, if I go out to the grocery store and I see someone on the street we walk around each other. If I happen to run into a friend we have to stay two meters apart," he complained.

Cognoli -- who said he bought a Colomba, a traditional Easter pastry to mark the holiday -- said he worries about how weeks of social distancing will impact the city once the lockdown is lifted.

"This outbreak has caused some practical problems for me: for example, I lost out on a major film role when the project was delayed and downsized amid the outbreak," Cognoli said. "But the thing I worry about most is the cultural implication of this lockdown. Will we return to normal afterwards? If we do, I think it will take longer than most people would guess.

"I think there will be psychological aspects of the lockdown we cannot yet begin to understand," Cognoli said.