CasaMiaOp-ed

A Taste of Italy

By March 17, 2020 No Comments

There’s a lot being written about the coronavirus, most of which is alarming. The word pandemic is terrifying. Still, as part of the tourism industry, we wanted to address the outbreak in Italy, what is being done to contain it, and how we can all help those who are suffering. 

With a recent surge in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and casualties, the Italian government has issued a decree to contain the spreading of the virus.

“The country needs the responsibility of each and every one of you, it needs 60 million big little sacrifices. Let’s stay apart today to hug each other more warmly and to run faster together tomorrow. All together we can do this.”

As of Monday, March 9th evening, Italy is in lockdown. One big Zona Protetta, as our Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte defined the country: a protected area. 

The hashtag #iorestoacasa (I’m staying home) launched for the decree is a national directive for people to stay put to help stop the contagion from increasing.

The government’s efforts to contain the virus, placing social welfare above personal comfort, are noteworthy and the preventative hard decisions taken are commendable. We feel isolated, sure, but we also feel that we’re being taken care of. Our seclusion means someone else’s increased safety.

We’re sad and scared. But the anxiety in Italy isn’t just about our health. It’s also fear for the Italian economy. The coronavirus is in fact expected to cost Italy’s tourism sector, which contributes 14% of the country’s GDP, a whopping 7.4 billion euros in the upcoming trimester, with an estimated loss of 4.7 million international tourist arrivals this year. 

Pictures bearing the slogan andrà tutto bene – everything will be alright – are hanging outside Italian windows as people seek to reassure each other (mainly children) and brighten up days spent at home under lockdown.

Many businesses, including shops, restaurants, hotels and even tour companies like us are small, private and often family-owned. Many rely on the April-November tourist season. That means individuals, artisans and families across Italy are being dramatically affected. Some are having to fire employees. Others will have to close or have rolled down the shutters already.

Yet we are all coping with the situation in the best way we can. 

We take brisk walks and short trips to the market to buy groceries. A quick walk with the dog, a pharmacy run, a coffee break on a balcony. 

We learn the term “social distancing.” 

We work from home.

We slow down the pace.

We learn a new way of living daily life.

We adapt. It’s innate in human nature.

Every tour cancellation comes with a broken heart from friends and clients who have been looking forward to their holiday. Every plea from abroad comes laced with doubt. We’re marching ahead in the certainty that this too shall pass and we will be here with open arms when travelers will eventually return to Italy. 

In the meantime, we can bring a little taste of Italy to you, and by the same token help small Italian businesses in these trying times.

ceramics Ortigia

Sicilian-based DoLu creates fantastic handcrafted ceramics and ships her gorgeous creations abroad.

Our Italians: Paolo and Daniela

In Tuscany, Casa Ceccatelli can stock you up on that special bottle or that rubbing salt you’ve always dreamed of for your Fiorentina steaks.

Remaining in Tuscany, in Florence to be exact, our favorite coffee by Ditta Artigianale, can be purchased online in different grinds and roasts, as well as merchandising.

Historic coffee roaster Caffè Sant’Eustachio in Rome is a place we always enter with a smile. You can receive their caffè as well as the Magical Chocolate Covered Beans of international fame delivered directly to your front door.

Gregorio Rotolo Abruzzo eleonora baldwin

In Abruzzo, Gregorio Rotolo produces some of the area’s best cheese. He has a deal with international couriers who can deliver his Gregoriano, or his caciocavallo barricato to your doorstep.

In Naples, Tentakoli creates fantastic jewels that are art pieces, all made with extremely light and hypoallergenic materials like resins and nickel free metals. 

Save Venice is the leading non-profit organization for the protection of Venice, including helping the restoration after the October 2019 floods.

Benheart is a well-known international brand, but the creative production of designer leather goods like jackets, shoes, bags, belts and wallets is all made in Florence! If you can’t get to the shop in Beverly Hills CA, you can order your Florentine leather jacket online.

Get your organic cold-pressed olive oil from Uliveto Grottafumata on Etna, Sicily.

You can also order olive oil produced in Sambuca di Sicilia by the Di Giovanna Winery. Their cold-pressed EVO is absolutely sensational.

Our US-based readers can also shop our Casa Mia picks at Gustiamo.

As far as delicious reading, food blogger and friend Maria Pasquale wrote a book, I Heart Rome, that collects recipes and short stories from the Eternal City, including a few sections penned by Gina and Eleonora!

The delightful Letizia Mattiacci has been teaching cooking classes in her native Umbria for years. In her book A Kitchen with a View, she shares family recipes, tips and glimpses into life in Umbria.

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Bonus tip: 3 Italian museums to visit from the comfort of your home: virtual tours and online collections

  1. Pinacoteca di Brera – Milan
  2. Galleria degli Uffizi – Florence
  3. Vatican Museums – Rome

Here are other stories by friends and colleagues reporting what it’s like to live in Italy during coronavirus.

Gina Tringali ~ Casa Mia Tours Comfort Food – Date Nut Bread Recipe
Carolyn White ~ Casa Mia Tours Mio caro Amore,
Maria Pasquale ~ HeartRome Dear World, Please Don’t Abandon Us. Love, Italy
Elyssa Bernard ~ RomeWise Coronavirus Rome Italy – what’s happening and how we’re coping
Erica Firpo ~ Ciao Bella Rome in the Time of Coronavirus #iorestoacasa
Giulia Scapaleggia ~ @julskitchen

Have questions regarding this article? Email us at ciao@casamiatours.com

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