Greetings from Milan

My darlings, greetings from Milan. I know some of you are worried and I know the news is being unkind towards what’s happening here, the place in Italy where we have the highest rate of confirmed cases of what has been called “Coronavirus”. According to official news, we have 206 confirmed cases of infection and few […]

My darlings, greetings from Milan.

I know some of you are worried and I know the news is being unkind towards what’s happening here, the place in Italy where we have the highest rate of confirmed cases of what has been called “Coronavirus”. According to official news, we have 206 confirmed cases of infection and few elderly people have died of the virus.

I am following my fellow human beings through the #covid-19 and similar, mostly on Twitter, and I see scenes out of a horror movie.
I thought I should take a minute to tell you how things are.

Stop right there.
Stop right there.

We are not under curfew. We are not quarantined.


It is true.
Our municipality has decreed the cautionary closure of schools (of any kind and order), the suspension of any event and public meeting where people are most likely to cough on each other, the closure of museums, theaters and such, the suspension of any field trip for the above-mentioned schools. All fairgrounds are closed as well.
Additionally, shops and commercial activities within shopping malls are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, with the notable exception of whoever is selling food (more on that later).

Our mayor asked to restrain from meetings and going to the office if you can work from home, and therefore lots of us are in what we could call “voluntary isolation”.
I am as well.
Because our mayor is a decent fellow and I respect him.
And because he asked nicely.

Full stop.

There is no army in the streets.
There is no shortage of food whatsoever.

Nobody is preventing me from going out and lick every single lamppost.
We have decided not to do that because we feel it’s our civic duty to comply with what our mayor has asked. He is a nice fellow. And he asked nicely.

We have very nice lamp posts too
We have very nice lamp posts too

It’s true that lots of people went to the supermarket on Sunday and bought more food than usual. It’s frankly nothing I haven’t seen, on a regular basis, on Christmas Eve and December 30th.
Is it because of people panicking? I don’t think so.
It’s because we are a Country where people leave at Midnight to go on holiday. We call it the “smart takeoff”.
Usually, it isn’t smart at all: it only creates a queue of very smart people who left, for no reason, in the middle of the night.
We like to be prepared. Nobody wants to be the idiot queuing on August 1st.
So you see that offices will be closed throughout the week and you don’t want to be the only moron without toilet paper.
Hence, everyone goes to the supermarket to buy toilet paper.
Hence, everyone is a moron.

But, I guarantee you, a very composed one.

There is no panic.
Not where I live.
And it is true that shelves were emptier than usual, on Monday.
The central strips of some shelves were empty.
It means that we only confirmed people bought a little more of what they usually buy. And that everybody hates a specific kind of pasta only nuns use in their soup kitchens (le penne lisce).

Today, shelves are full again.
And people are happy, at home, with their stash of toilet paper.
We are simple people and small things make us happy.

Toilet paper is key to happiness: everyone knows that.

Maybe I live in a privileged part of town.
Maybe other neighborhoods are different.
I don’t know.
I see no panic, here.

I am not in a particularly bourgeois neighborhood. For your information, I live near the canals, where the nightlife is. And we have no nightlife, right now: our municipality also decreed that pubs and such cannot stay open between 23:00 and 6:00. Which is clearly done for reasons more related to the public order than anything else. If you go out, you get drunk, someone coughs and maybe you do things we will all regret in the morning. So, our mayor is telling you to stay at home. Buy a bottle. You can find a bottle at the supermarket. Shelves are full. If you don’t believe me, go out and take a look for yourself.

And, talking about that, please believe only what you read on official channels and nothing else.
Don’t even believe me, if you must.

And please, don’t say “I saw this and that” if you didn’t in fact see it yourself.
If your best friend tells you he has seen something, pass it on like that. “My friend told me he saw this and that”.
If you pass it on like yours, someone else will pass it on at theirs and this is how rumor spread, this is how urban legends are born.
To be the smart one, you’ll be a moron. Everyone will be a moron.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I’m having the time of my life. We are experiencing distress and economic damages. I’ve had them myself, three figures stuff in just a week, and I don’t own a pub.
But it’s ok.

We’ll be ok.

Live long and prosper.
Live long and prosper.



  1. Grazie di aver postato questo, Ero un po’ in pensiero per te e gli altri amici di Milano. Spero che la situazione si sia risolta tra poco piu’ di un mese, quando verro’ a Roma. In ogni caso, per vedere supermercati vuoti, basta venire qui nella zona di Washington DC quando e’ annunciata una forte nevicata. Credo si trovino ancora delle foto online :D.

    1. Ciao Raffaella, anche noi speriamo che la situazione si sia risolta tra un mese, perché onestamente già una sola settimana ha dato una legnata abbastanza corposa al business. Pare temano il collasso dei reparti rianimazione degli ospedali laddove si dovesse diffondere, dato l’alto tasso di contagio, da cui le misure di quarantena da una parte e di isolamento volontario da quell’altra. E poi ci sono le reazioni scomposte di gente che ha visto troppa televisione e sembra non aspetti altro se non trovarsi protagonista di uno scenario distopico.
      Hanno proprio ragione i cinesi: “May you live in interesting times” è una maledizione.

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