“That branch of the lake of Como, which extends towards the south, is enclosed by two unbroken chains of mountains, which, as they advance and recede, diversify its shores with numerous bays and inlets.”
I woke up with this in my head today. It’s the incipit of one of the most famous Italian novels of all times, The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni.
I read the Betrothed when I was at school, something like fifteen years ago, and I still remember how the story starts. I’ve always been obsessed with literature, that might be why I have such a good memory for these things, but this doesn’t explain why that sentence came to my mind exactly this morning.
The truth is that yesterday I was talking to a friend who lives in Italy, she was giving me updates about the pandemic, and to describe the situation down there, she said,
“It feels so weird, it’s like being trapped inside a chapter of The Betrothed.”
It’s a very interesting way to describe it. The novel is set in Northern Italy in 1628, at the time of the Great Plague of Milan, known to be one of the latest outbreaks of the second plague pandemic started around 1340. When I read the book, I would have never imagined that something similar could happen nowadays.
Well, I don’t mean to compare the two events, rather to give you an idea of how surreal the situation feels there. But other than that, as I said to my friend yesterday, in modern times we have all we need to monitor the virus and stop it from spreading.
We can track the progression of COVID-19 and beat it, potentially. The thing is that the only way to stop contagions will be geographical isolation. At the minute, only Italy seems to be following this rule, but it took them too long to get there and the situation is now unmanageable. Offices and factories are still working, but I have a feeling that soon only the groceries will stay open to guarantee food supply.
Italy should have taken these drastic actions earlier. Postponing the restrictions is exposing the country to the risk of a longer isolation, thus to a bigger economic loss, which unfortunately will come along with the collapse of the health system. You must have heard about the shortage of bed units, ventilators and masks; it’s happening everywhere, and we are not making ourselves a favour by underestimating the issue.
Many countries, including UK, don’t seem very keen to follow Italy’s example. I know what you’re thinking, Italy is not exactly known for being the perfect political model, but in this case it’s a precedent and it should be observed. When it all started, also in Italy they thought that drastic measures weren’t necessary, but as you all have seen, they had to change their mind.
Every country should act now. The sooner the better. I know we’re scared to see our society collapse, but if we don’t do anything, it’s gonna happen anyway.