February 26, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Thoughts on Phase 2

By |2020-05-15T11:42:14+02:00May 15th, 2020|"Bedside Manners"|
Milan revived, at least in part...

recently asked my Facebook friends in Italy, most of them in Rome, to tell me their personal best and worst experiences since the second phase of the country’s response to the corona virus went into effect on May 4. The full-scale lockdown has been eased, at least a bit, and more people are out and about.

In any other period, these good and bad moments would be simple things you’d pretty much take for granted. But not now, when huge chunks of the world have come unhinged.

Here are some of their replies:

The best:

  • Driving to Rome’s Monte Antenne with my little dog and admiring his joy.
  • Taking my husband out for a gelato.
  • Having my first gelato in 55-plus days.
  • The ice cream parlor reopening on Via Principe Eugenio.
  • Driving to our residence in the Northern Apennines.
  • Driving to a friend’s house and visiting them through the window.
  • Being able to finally have visitors.
  • Hearing owls at night.
  • Going running in the park.
  • My first constitutional along the Ticino river.
  • Cycling through a relatively empty Rome in the sunshine.
  • Going around the city by bicycle and seeing people going for a walk in places where usually they move around by car.
  • Walking through Villa Sciarra park.
  • Seeing the Ponte Coperto (I’m in Pavia) for the first time in 10 weeks.
  • Being inspired by the way the local market has organized itself to arrange deliveries and pick-up of fresh fruit and vegetables. It helps give you a great sense of people in the community helping each other.
  • Finally being able to ride my scooter beyond 200 meters.
  • Taking my first bus ride downtown, so thrilling!
  • As in phase 1, I am painting, so I could be quite happy until phase 3 and beyond!
  • Breakfast at my corner coffee bar, even though it was takeout, and getting to chat with people who happened to be there.

The worst:

  • Taking my dog to the vet after our Monte Antenne outing for a possible foxtail in his paw (COVID-19 scenario in the clinic included).
  • The sirens of ambulances and emergency vehicles still fills me with dread.
  • Not being able to go to a beach or to our country house.
  • Having no idea when the grocer will reopen.
  • Realizing that my well-planned sabbatical was not really a sabbatical.
  • As a misanthrope, I loved the first phase, the silence, the empty streets; I miss it.
  • Traffic noise and fumes have increased.
  • The disapproving looks I get when trying to go out to exercise (safely and courteously).
  • The thought that many shops and businesses won’t survive.
  • Putting on latex gloves.
  • Not being able to go to church for mass.
  • Seeing the coffee bars open to takeaway, but not wanting to add to plastic waste by getting a coffee.
  • The restriction that allows you only to meet your relatives, I don’t need lessons in morality.

It’s an interesting mix, and certainly proves that gelato matters. Frankly, I thought the biggest complaint would be that people weren’t observing social distancing. No one even mentioned that, making notoriously anarchic Rome residents sound better than their famously disciplined Milanese counterparts. Or maybe some of images of Milan, where crowds seemed to be walked around thoughtlessly, were staged to make people look bad.

I hope so, because dispensing with distancing is about the least smart thing you can do at the moment.

About the Author:

New York native Susan Levenstein, MD, maintained a private practice in Rome for four decades. She maintains a blog and in 2019 published a book of memoirs entitled"Dottoressa".