A former Bio Concepts employee touched base to provide an Italian’s perspective on the viral pandemic.
Despite China being the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, Italy is battling one of the worst outbreaks worldwide. A “hotspot” for COVID-19, the country has the second highest number of recorded cases (after the United States) yet the most fatalities in the world.
The progression of the virus is more advanced in Italy, as opposed to Australia, with the European country entering their sixth week of restrictions. Former Bio Concepts employee, Monique Rossi, has been living abroad on the Italian island of Sardinia and has touched base to provide an Italian’s perspective on the viral pandemic.
As Australia faces tighter restrictions to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic spread here, she paints a picture of a potential future that may not be so grim, if we can appreciate some of the small opportunities these unique circumstances present.
What is it like currently living in Italy, the “hotspot” of the virus?
Life here in Italy at the moment is lived very much on a day to day. The outside environment and behaviours are constantly changing, affecting everything from our laws to the way we conduct daily and monthly activities like shopping, working or collecting the pension.
Every day we are unsure of how things might change; how long the current situation will last; or if things will get worse – so it really is a matter of taking each day as it comes and enjoying the now as much as possible.
I live in the countryside on the island of Sardinia, so life here is normally very quiet but now it’s even more so. There are less cars on the road and there is hardly anyone around, except for local authorities patrolling the streets to make sure people are adhering to the lockdown rules. There are fines in place and potential jail time if you are caught outside without a valid reason.
Socialising and daily activities that we may have normally taken for granted, like popping to the store to grab some milk, are a lot more complicated now and require much more planning. Only one member per family can go to the supermarket and you must wait your turn to enter. Depending on where you live, specific shopping times and days have been allocated alphabetically to minimise the amount of people in circulation at any one time. Work has been a big adjustment for many, with people now working from home and many not being able to work at all.
Even though the nation has been in full lockdown for more than three weeks, I feel the sense of community and our unity is strong. People are remaining calm and working together to help fight this virus.
What does your daily life look like right now?
There’s definitely a tendency to sleep in and have a slow morning (which I am really enjoying). It’s nice to have extra time to enjoy the little things, like drinking my morning espresso or having a chat with my family, without being rushed. There is the time to savour every activity – cooking, cleaning, reading and catching up on favourite shows. My days have somewhat slowed down, but I am finding this is a good a thing.
What is it like living in isolation – how are you keeping busy and coping?
I am currently living with my extended family (my grandmother and auntie), so although we are in isolation, I have company. I keep busy doing various things like gardening if the weather is nice, as well as a few DIY projects around the house.
I have dusted off the forgotten paint and brush set and have been dedicating time to creative activities. I’ve also been reading; it has been the perfect time to catch up on a few books.
Cooking has been a big part of my quarantine experience. Like many Italian families, we’ve been making fresh home-made bread, pasta and a lot of baking. As we have a little more time on our hands, we can afford to tackle the longer recipes like home-made ravioli and fresh baked bread.
Socialising with friends and family has been all online. Lengthy video calls with family in Australia are part of my daily routine.
How are you managing your mental health and mood during this tough time?
Living in the countryside has been great because I have plenty of outdoor space to roam. Being able to get some fresh air and be in nature has been a blessing for my mental health and mood.
I make a point to take some time in the day for myself and try not to feel the need to be busy and doing something every moment. I make sure to exercise every day, whether it’s a walk around my house, or doing some weights indoors. Being physically active really helps me to stay in balance.
What would you want Australians to know?
Try to view isolation or lockdown in a positive light – this is the perfect time to practice self-care and mindfulness; and to do all of the things that you’ve been wanting to do, but that you were always “too busy” to do!
Having less pressure from the outside world has given me an opportunity to slow down. I have really enjoyed re-engaging with life’s simple pleasures. It’s also good to keep in mind that this is a global event and there is comfort in unity; knowing that we are all in this together.
-- Monique Rossi