Ciao belli! It’s Linda from Florence. Social distancing has been particularly difficult for local Italians as coming together with friends in squares, cafes and bars for an espresso is deeply ingrained in our culture. It’s part of who we are. With the lockdown keeping us inside since March 10th, I miss the interaction with local vendors that we usually visit on our tours. After a while, they become friends. We’re all working together to ensure local businesses in our community are around to welcome tourists when they return. We know they will someday, and it’s been heartwarming to see everyone supporting each other in the meantime.
My husband, Alberto, is an emergency doctor so he is on the frontline at the hospital, in the ambulance and even in the helicopters supporting patients. I couldn’t be more proud of him. At home, my boys (Diego, 10, and Giulio,12) are homeschooling and we’ve adjusted to the new normal. We are now able to leave our homes to shop for food, for exercise and for essential work-related reasons. There is light at the end of the tunnel and we’re feeling hopeful.
Lapo Lapi, the owner of @casalapiflorence, began the initiative when he realized how many families could no longer afford basic food staples such as pasta and bread. In response, he rallied the local community to find volunteers who could donate fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, pasta, sauces and even masks.
The response was overwhelming. Many local Florentines are helping him distribute them at his restaurant and it also inspired others to help too. A favorite hangout of us locals, Pizzeria Neromo, is even giving out free pizza.
At a time when we’re kept apart, our community has never been closer together.
By virtue of being one of worst affected countries in the world, our community has come to understand how we will live with our situation for the foreseeable future. Italians are strong-willed and full of heart, made resilient having been through many hard times. We know how to adapt.
As we approach summer the mayor of Florence is launching an initiative that, when the city re-opens, will allow restaurants to extend their outdoor spaces beyond their usual limits and into the main squares to help citizens socially distance. Furthermore, local artisans have begun making transparent screens that will be placed between tables. They have even added plant pots to make the squares look as picturesque as ever!
Food and generous hospitality have always bound the local community together and they always will. This situation will end and we will be both stronger and wiser for it. Although these times are incredibly difficult for all Italians, I hope that living through these hard times will help everybody appreciate each other, and their cities, even more in the good times. They will return soon.