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A Month of Quarantine. Reflections from the North of Italy

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A Month of Quarantine. Reflections from the North of Italy

Today marks a full month since the coronavirus nightmare started here in the north of Italy. A month in which a handful of “positive cases” quickly grew to become a humanitarian tragedy.

It’s been a month without seeing anybody and staying at home.

A month without hugging, without talking and laughing face to face.

A month without going to a store or walking into a coffee shop… but most importantly, this has been a month full of pain, sorrow and grief.

It’s been a month of uncertainty, of feeling powerless and helpless. It’s been a month of heavy hearts for those who didn’t make it, for those who are still fighting and for those who lost a family member or a friend.

It’s been a month full of concern and apprehension for our health care workers, who are fighting back fiercely to try and save lives while putting their own at risk.

And it’s also been a month to reflect on what we are doing to our Earth and to realize that we need to make changes. And that we need to act now.

In this last month, looking at the roofs it’s been the only contact with the outside world I’ve had.

The bell towers have been ringing every hour, scanning the endless time of this quarantine with a semblance of normality.

The pigeons have been walking up and down the roof tiles without a care in world. The sun has been setting over the roofs a little later every day. And the tips of the trees I see in the distance started blossoming with little, yellow flowers carrying spring along with them.

With us humans locked up in our homes, the world continues to spin and it actually seems to be doing much better without us around, doing everything we can to destroy it.
Now that we are forced to inactivity, pollution here in Lombardy, the industrial heart of Italy, is at its all-time low. Dolphins are swimming in the port of Trieste the usually muddy water of the canals in Venice has never been cleaner. It took us a pandemic to give out Earth some relief.

A Month of Quarantine. Reflections from the North of Italy

When people ask me what I miss the most while living on lockdown, things like going out, socializing or going to a bar don’t EVEN cross my mind. I don’t care about them in the slightest.

All I want is to wake up see that they are dismantling the field hospital they set up outside the hospital where I was born because they can’t take in any more patients.

I want to wake up and know that all the departments of our local hospitals that have now been converted to cure COVID-19 are reassigned to their original function.

I want to wake up and know that all the doctors, nurses and health care professionals are no longer at risk and not forced to work 14 hours a day in impossible conditions. I want to wake up and feel that if there was an emergency, people could be properly assisted and cared for.

These are the things that really matter. The small sacrifice we are asked to make by self-isolating perils in comparison to the enormity of the problem we are trying to overcome here. How do we even have the audacity to complain about sitting at home, when what’s happening just down the street is a like a horror movie?

If anything, I wish I could do much more to help and I am spending these days on lockdown trying my best to be of use, from raising awareness to make people understand the importance of staying at home, to collecting money and organizing donations of protective masks to the local 911.

Today also marks the beginning of spring, which already started blossoming in the streets, carrying along its beautiful symbols of rebirth. May this be month in which my Italy will be reborn too, defeat this horrible virus and grow stronger and wiser from the lessons it taught us.

A month in quarantine in the North of Italy


If you liked this article, please leave a comment and share it with as many people as you can! May what Italy is going through be a lesson for the whole world!

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Ambra Torelli
Born and raised in Italy, Ambra visited over 20 countries and now she divides her time in between Italy and the US, where her husband is from and where she moved in 2011 work as university professor of Italian Literature. She writes about food, travel and things that inspire her! more about ambra

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  • Avatar
    Laura Rojas March 21, 2020 12:38 pm

    Beautiful words Ambra, I hope to see this nightmare end as soon as possible, and with it, our selfishness about the world. Thanks and stay healthy ❤️

    • ambra
      ambra March 21, 2020 2:16 pm

      Thanks so much Laura! It means a lot!

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    Annika March 21, 2020 2:51 pm

    My heart aches so much for Italy! I share the same feelings you expressed. Socializing should be the least of people’s concern right now. ❤️

    • ambra
      ambra March 23, 2020 4:31 am

      I know, right? All we are asked to do is to sit at home and watch Netflix! Just a handful of decades ago, people were asked to go to war and lose their lives. How can we even begin to complain.

      • Avatar
        Abigail March 23, 2020 10:19 am

        So true! Thank you for staying connected and sharing! It all resonates. Sending love.

    • Avatar
      Dan Bushfield March 23, 2020 11:10 am

      Thank you for this article. I have shared this on my facebook. I hope that people here in Canada pay attention. Many are not.

      Stay healthy.

      Dan Bushfield

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    Benita March 21, 2020 5:57 pm

    Beautifully worded Ambra! I feel the same way as you do. Here in America, we haven’t even begun to see the worst. And there are so many that are choosing to not self isolate, which makes it so dangerous to the people that they come home to. It’s so frustrating! But thank you for being a light in these difficult times ❤️

    • ambra
      ambra March 23, 2020 4:29 am

      Thank you Benita, hope everyone thinks the same way as you. The sooner we understand to stay at home, the earlier this will end.

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    Megan March 21, 2020 7:39 pm

    Heartbreaking, beautiful, hopeful. Thank you for sharing ❤❤

    • ambra
      ambra March 23, 2020 4:28 am

      Thanks so much Megan. So glad you liked it!!

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    Margrethe March 23, 2020 6:23 am

    Warm Love you You Ambra. As I lie in bed this morning listening to classical music and the snowflakes falling, I feel and know I’am Blessed. You expressed so true about were not going to war and how the dolphins and swans are in the canals. I pray the Lord puts us on our knees to respect His creation on this earth, which is just as important as our lives. Pray the world can work together on this virus and our beautiful earth. I respect a serious fine for those not obeying the regulations.. My father in law has family in Italy. We shall keep you in our prayers, a hedge of protection on you and yours and beautiful Italy. Praying for all in the medical frontlines! Stay safe, be blessed you are so special !
    Love, Margrethe, Connecticut,USA 🕊🌈

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    Renee’ March 23, 2020 7:53 am

    I’m sorry you received any negative comments regarding your other posts. No one should be mean, but especially not now. Thank you for doing your part to help. Stay safe ❤️

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    Nelda Tomecsko March 23, 2020 8:40 am

    Thanks for sharing! ❤️
    Praying for you, your beautiful country and our entire world

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    Clare March 23, 2020 9:55 am

    Please ignore those horrible, rude people. You are doing a wonderful job at the front lines to make us more aware of how we need to behave in our cities, towns and countries all over the world. Love and appreciation from Montreal. xx

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    Silvia March 23, 2020 10:13 am

    Hi Ambra,
    here in Portugal we are looking with all our hearts to the situation in Italy.
    A lot of us are praying for you all.
    We’ve been acompanying very close the desperate situation of the northern italy and of your doctors and nurses trying to safe lives in the limit of their resources and capabilities.
    Me and my children have been at home ofr 2 weeks now. My husband was just able to return from the other side of the world and is on quarantene – isolated from us, to protect us.
    But the lessons Italy has thought us in all this, and the messages we have been receiving from the doctors and the people in italy have been helping a lot for the portuguese to stay a home. We learn from your experience. So let me tell you from my heart: YOU ARE HELPING TO SAVE LIVES.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and I hope and pray all gets better soon!
    Stay safe!

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    Joyce March 23, 2020 10:13 am

    Wonderful article! I am a nurse waiting for the worst to come. I am anxious and sad for all who will suffer illness, death, and so many other hardships. I also fear for myself as a provider, but know that I will do my part in this crisis. I love reading your articles and I wish you wellness and the beginning of a turnaround for Italy!!

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    Marlene March 23, 2020 10:14 am

    I understand your feelings as I am also alone and scared. Folks here are hording supplies, food, and not being considerate of anyone else but themselves. Many are not taking this to heart and following request to stay home or keeping 6′ distance from others when outside walking, etc. I hope you and this world will recover and come together as we all did after 911. The earth, God, is sending us a message.

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    Mia March 23, 2020 10:18 am

    Thank you for sharing, Ambra. We are praying for Italy and for this virus to leave the earth! I am an Italian American. I have family in Sondrio- specifically Bormio. Northern Italy is beautiful. I hope to return to visit someday. Peace to you and your family. Ciao!

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    Dorothy March 23, 2020 10:40 am

    Thank you for your uplifting words. Today we were told of our first case in my county. My self and my husband have been staying home. I feel that is the least we can do to help. While it does not feel like much I am hoping it is enough. I see all around me people not taking this seriously and can only hope something will get through. You are helping by giving hope. Thank you

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    Mary March 23, 2020 11:26 am

    Ooh Ambra, your IG stories and blogs are so informative and important. You should be so proud of yourself. I have learnt so much from you and have been telling my friends about you and your blog too. This situation in Italy and all over the world is absolutely heartbreaking. I pray to God that this will all be over very soon. I have Italian friends and family and every day I see Italy’s numbers I get so emotional. I live in Spain and we are on a strict lock down too.
    The last two days Italy’s numbers have been reducing. I really hope things are going to get better from now on. Take care and keep spreading the word and ignore those haters. Xxx

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    Susan March 23, 2020 11:30 am

    Good luck to you all! In the states, specifically New York, they say we are about 10 days behind you. We are staying in, limiting all contact, and praying for humankind ❤️

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    Dan Kaufman March 23, 2020 12:10 pm

    grazie mille for keeping us informed. Being in New York with it’s growing number of cases leaves us feeling very vulnerable, but hearing from others that are going through this too…and surviving…is very comforting
    Buona fortuna e state salutare

    PS. Please ignore those very ugly comments from others…ti amiamo molto

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    Jane Brody March 23, 2020 1:30 pm

    Thank you for these powerful and beautifully written observations, Ambra. The Earth is definitely healing during this time of human crisis, and I can only hope that there will be a global shift in recognizing that the never ending desire for “economic growth” at any cost is simply not sustainable for the health of our planet or the people who inhabit it.
    I’m ashamed of the people who responded to your previous email with such ignorance, but it is a telling sign bred from the lack of transparency and honesty from various government regimes. We are dealing with a global human crisis and it is telling when others cannot see our shared humanity and recognize that we need to pull together as the interrelated beings that we are, regardless of borders, race, ethnicity or religion. Sending you prayers of healing and gratitude for your unique, first hand perspective on this crisis. May all beings be well…

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    Valerie March 23, 2020 1:33 pm

    Hi Ambra,
    I’ve loved your blog for a while because I’m following the AIP diet, but now even more because I feel the personal connection to Italy through you. I have been concerned even before your first email because I saw the numbers growing and saw it a a warning to us here in California in the United States. I am beginning my third week of isolation simply because my husband and I are heading towards 70 years of age and he already has troubled lungs. I am blessed to have a multigenerational home, with two daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren. They have all been home for one week now, so a new venture in online schooling and working from home has begun. so I have spent a little time feeling guilty about how much I am NOT suffering during this time of quarantine, but definitely praying for those who are away from family and friends. Thank you for your heartfelt words and please hang in there. Don’t let the naysayers get you down!
    Learning to be grateful,

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    Allison Bond March 23, 2020 2:03 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I am from Michigan, U.S.A., and tonight is when the strict lock-down starts. It is comforting to receive your insight! <3

    May those bitter people sending you horrible messages come to peace with whatever it is that they are battling causing them to lash out at you… someone who is trying to help others and cope with her own emotions in this difficult time.

    Sending happy thoughts and much love!

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    Cynthia March 23, 2020 2:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us! I have been touched reading of your experience in Italy. The world is now connected in a way we have never been. This isn’t an American issue, or an Italian issue, but belongs to all of us.
    As Americans, we have not been asked to sacrifice much, since WWII. My generation has never known a disruption like this. I’m sorry for those who have lashed out. I believe they just do not want to admit the truth, and are afraid. Continue to share your voice. Let those who would go, go. Remove them from your list, if you have the option.
    In the meantime, I believe, as do you, that in spite of the discomfort, it is important to look at the ways this will change us, perhaps for the better. Our earth has begun her healing already. Blessings to you as you keep your family safe. Thank you for sharing your heart and your stories, along with your recipes.
    Praying for peace and healing,

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    Sharon H March 23, 2020 3:28 pm

    It is heartbreaking and sickens me when I hear the daily report of deaths in Italy! How can this be? I can’t help but wonder how much of your population will recover and survive. And then, it is ever increasing in the States, and we have people who think they are invincible. And they’re selfishly risking other people’s lives by not caring how their behavior will affect others. This generation of young adults might be reduced dramatically all because they are confident that their ME FIRST WHO CARES ABOUT YOU attitude is perfectly fine and acceptable. It is the do-what-makes-you-happy philosophy that will destroy many lives. I’m sorry there were some people who attacked you. No excuse for that. Take care and continue your right for survival.

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    Beth Williams March 23, 2020 3:49 pm

    Thank you for your direct and clear words. It’s all very overwhelming and I am grateful for your ability to articulate your thoughts for us…..and also to continue to share your recipes for those of us fighting autoimmune issues!

  • Avatar
    Suseth March 24, 2020 2:45 am

    Dear Ambra,

    Thank you for the article about the “lock down”.
    I shared it with my colleagues and family, I hope this is okay. I want them to see/know what it is like.

    Here in the UK there are people who are not complying. They say “it is freedom, it is everyone’s right ….” and I am in fear of my family contracting the virus.

    Please continue sending me emails.


  • Avatar
    Sam D. March 24, 2020 2:46 am

    Hi Ambra,

    Thank you for this information, it’s really interesting and seeing how things are ‘for real’, this is such a tragic and testing time for everyone, we have to be strong and come together.

    Sadly there are many naive people in the UK treating it like a holiday and not realising the risk they are putting everyone under! I suspect we will be on full lockdown very soon, and we need to be to stop the stupid selfish people carrying in lives as though nothing is happening!

    Best wishes and please stay safe and keep up with your lovely emails


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    Kylie March 24, 2020 2:49 am

    Sending you love from California! I’m just outside of San Francisco and things are really cracking down here, but nothing like what you’re experiencing in Italy. I’ve been a subscriber for over two years and want you to know I appreciate your hard work. Wishing the best for you and your country.

    Lots of love,

  • Avatar
    Susan March 24, 2020 5:07 am

    My heart goes out to you and I pray for Italy and the world. May we all find our humanity and compassion through this crisis and learn to live better on this earth. Stay strong!

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    Colleen March 24, 2020 7:10 am

    Dearest Ambra,
    We are beginning to rev up in Chicago. They say we are about 2 weeks behind Italy. I can’t imagine the devastation you have seen in only 2 weeks time. We continue to pray for the entire world and we are watching Italy closely. I pray someone will find a cure fast to save the precious lives that are hanging in the balance. Your words were very calming and beautiful! Such peace in this time of chaos. You are a blessing to all who read your messages. Keep your head up and my your faith be stronger than your fear.
    Colleen Grogan

  • Avatar
    richard diaz March 24, 2020 12:37 pm

    thanks to u and ur husband for all the messages of hope and love and commitment to do the right things you’ve been a great help especially the poker articles fight on

  • Avatar
    Linda Beard March 24, 2020 5:07 pm

    Thank you, Ambra, for being the Voice From The Front. You speak eloquently and passionately about this human health crisis. We are literally all in this together – all nations now united against a common enemy – but of course there will always be people whose fears lead them to dwell in denial, and to lash out. If lives were not at stake, we could pity them for their lack of humanity. In this case, their lack of humanity could cause others to be infected.

    As I understand it, our President is currently weighing the balance between allowing “some” businesses to resume in order to avoid economic collapse, versus the possibility of the spread of this disease. I hope he will carefully, so carefully, consider the options and their consequences. I am hoping for him to reignite the economy in stages, so that we don’t so upset this new balance that we reach a point of no return on new cases of this disease.

    Thank you, so much, for your courage, your grace, and your voice.

  • Avatar
    RoyalAesthetic March 26, 2020 5:36 am

    This is the perfect time for us to unite as one. Don’t lose your hope and always pray. We can defeat this invisible monster someday.

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    Flora March 30, 2020 6:29 pm

    This virus is only just starting here in Ontario. As an RN I appreciate your lovely words. After seeing what Italy has gone through I am nervous and frightened for what is coming. Your article contained a beautiful message of hope that we need to cling to.
    Thank you

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