How Italy’s dealing with the lockdown: Updates from your favourite country

The Italian lockdown began eight weeks ago. It hasn’t been easy, but with the current phase two, we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, Italians have been keeping busy at home. So, what’s everyone been getting up to?

Italy at home: time for family and food

girl in florence date night
A date night at home courtesy of a local restaurant – grilled octopus with couscous and spaghetti with calamari

Italians are used to spending a lot of time with family – and a lot of time in the kitchen – so for some, life during the Italian lockdown hasn’t been such a drastic change. During a typical day in lockdown, children and teenagers do several hours of online lessons a day, while most parents work from home (if possible). The rest of the time is spent enjoying time together – playing games, watching films or cooking. The internet is full of Italians sharing recipes, inspiration and tutorials.

As going to restaurants or bars isn’t an option, many Italians are using food delivery services. And, because this is Italy, it’s often something more sophisticated than a burger. A Florence-based blogger, Georgette Jupe, recently shared her date night at home courtesy of a local restaurant – grilled octopus with couscous and spaghetti with calamari. Italy at home means even more time spent thinking about, preparing and enjoying food!

Gardens are a rarity for Italians living in towns and cities, so people have been making the most of their roof terraces. One video shows people playing tennis, exercising, and even cycling on roof terraces – the new normal for Italians who want to exercise and get some fresh air. Balconies and roof terraces are also the perfect place to socialise with your neighbours (from a distance) – drinking a cup of coffee together, or dancing while the neighbourhood DJ blasts music from his balcony.

Italian culture: sharing art and music

Bookshops have now re-opened in Italy – an encouraging sign – but what about other forms of culture?

You don’t have to be in Italy to immerse yourself in Italian culture. Many museums and galleries, from the Vatican to the Uffizi, are encouraging people to browse the collections online. Contemporary artists are also using social media to share their work. For example, Elisa Colarossi shares her “Roman Quarantine” drawing project (used as “cover photo” of this article) on Instagram, capturing the feel of life under lockdown.

Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to wait a while before we can enjoy a concert or a night at the opera. But in the meantime, musicians are finding solutions. Check out the hashtag #IoSuonoDaCasa (“I play at home”) on Instagram to find a range of Italian musicians, from the rapper Fedez to classical musicians like Andrea Bocelli, who are sharing videos and streaming live sets. Opera houses in Naples and Milan have also been streaming past live performances.

What next? What life will look like when the Italian lockdown ends

Although Italians have been trying to make the most of their time in lockdown, waiting patiently for the next announcement from the Prime Minister, the question we’re all asking is: what next?

No one is exactly sure what will happen when the next phase begins in May. Social distancing is likely to continue for a long time, but how will restaurants and bars be able to operate? For now, they only serve food to go, but in June they might be able to welcome guests again. Will we be able to go to the beach this summer?

Plexiglass barriers are one possible solution, although it’s unlikely they will be used for real. Viral images of restaurant tables and beach umbrellas separated by transparent walls were met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. However, most Italians have started to come to terms with the fact that when the quarantine ends, we’ll be experiencing a new kind of normal. The days of bustling restaurants and heaving beaches are over – for now, at least.

Still, after so long in lockdown, Italians will appreciate even the smallest pleasures, such as a walk in the park or a chat with a family member face-to-face. Piano piano (slowly, slowly), Italy is opening its doors.

Read more: How Italy Is Inspiring the World By Coming Together Through Culture