Anne's Blog

Coronavirus Lockdown and an Assisi Morning Walk

Date: March 13, 2020 - categories: , , - 9 Comments

These days, a few familiar hashtags are #Italianonsiferma#DistantiMaUniti#italystaystrong#ItalyCoronavirus – and now of course, #italylockdown.

Coronavirus lockdown was mandated here in Italy as of March 12th but outings for walk are permitted. Grocery stores, post offices, banks and pharmacies are among the few authorized destinations.

On our way to Assisi for a pharmacy stop yesterday, we stopped here in the countryside at Ristorante Da Giovannino. Empty outdoor tables. A forlorn scene:

The restaurant and coffee bar were closed, logicamente, with a notice about lockdown on the wooden door.

But their small alimentari (grocery store) was open, though a sign posted on the door warned of admittance to only one person at a time

In Assisi, we stopped first at the 14th-century fortress, La Rocca Maggiore. It seemed to be a silent, stern sentinel surveying Assisi stretched out below:

It was a misty morning for photos of the view from La Rocca

….and of the smaller fortress, La Rocca Minore

I looked out towards the hill area where we live, more than ever grateful to be living in the countryside.

And then I turned to start my stroll through Assisi’s empty medieval backstreets. Sobering.

Occasionally, I’d pass someone enroute home, shopping bag in hand.

Passing each other, we maintained the recommended one-meter distance.

In Piazza San Rufino, a curved elderly gentleman sat alone on a bench, a scarf around his neck, his jacket collar up. He was silent and I imagined him envisioning this piazza during his childhood when gleeful, shouting children kicked around soccer balls:

The door of the caffe’ on the piazza was open. But only for cleaning:

The hairdresser next door was closed, of course, but Patrizia must be dropping by now and then to water her cyclamen:

On my way down to Piazza Santa Chiara, I passed many a doorway graced with a hand-painted maiolica tile bearing he greeting of San Francesco to the people before preaching in the early 13th-century: pax et bonum (“peace and good”):


…and then I passed the public notice board indicating hygienic norms to follow during this coronavirus pandemic:

The narrow twisting vicoli (alleyways) were hauntingly silent. And empty.

A favorite bar/pizzeria on Piazza Santa Chiara was closed up, with note on the door indicating re-opening (dare we hope?!) on March 25th.

No words can describe the hollow feeling in my chest as I stood alone in Piazza Santa Chiara:

As I headed to Assisi’s main square, I looked back and saw a solitary man walking his dog and a woman with a shopping bag heading home:

Corso Mazzini was empty too, those rolling metal doors down on every shop selling San Francesco memorabilia:

As I approached the main square, Piazza del Comune, I thought about this street, Corso Mazzini, years ago when it was the site of Assisi’s pre-dinnertime, passeggiata (“the stroll”). In those days, the street was crowded with friends and families walking arm-in-arm and chatting, perhaps stopping at Bar Sensi for aperitivo.

Bar Sensi is closed now….

…..and I saw just one woman walking down Corso Mazzini, arm-in-arm with no one:

The hub of Assisi life, Piazza del Comune was empty, shrouded in a tomb-like silence. The 14th-century campanile (“bellower”) rose stalwartly next to the 1st B.C. Roman Temple to Minerva, as if another sentinel for our town:

A young woman crossed the square, on her way to the pharmacy.

Like me.

The sign on the door let all know that there were no longer any masks available:

Inside, the pharmacists worked tranquilly. No one else was there:

Walking back to the van where Pino was waiting for me, I looked up at a “pax et bonum” tile, surmounted with a terra-cotta statue of San Francesco in blessing.

San Francesco, your Assisi is in desperate need now of peace and good..

Watch out for us.

Mille grazie.

Click here to read about Novella’s vegetable stand during the coronavirus lockdown

Click here for a “coronavirus lockdown” recipe

Read here about an outdoor market visit to ward off a CPA (Coronavirus Panic Attack)

Click here to read about – and see! – a favorite Orvieto eating spot (to ward off CPA)

Read about a Pino feast on March 8th as coronavirus distraction 

Click here to read about March 8th – as a coronavirus antidote

Peppa is always perfect distraction from a CPA

Read about a stop for fresh pasta to ward off a CPA

9 Comments

  • Bev Oliveri says:

    My heart breaks for my Italian sisters and brothers. May St. Francis protect you.

  • Janet says:

    I have never seen the streets of Assisi as empty as they are now except at 3 am in the morning. May the people of Italy return to their streets!

  • Sarah C Willey says:

    Thank you, Annie! It was very sad to see some of my favorite spots closed and deserted. Pax et Bonum to you and all.
    Love,
    Sal

  • Mary Kay Fry says:

    Thank you so much Ann. I loved each of your photos and comments. After many blessed visits to Assisi, I knew where each of your photos was taken. I thought of dear Marcello Brufani when I saw his ‘Laudato Si Mi Signore Per Frate Vento’.

  • Mary Kay Fry says:

    Thank you so much Ann. I loved each of your photos and comments. After many blessed visits to Assisi, I knew where each of your photos was taken. I thought of dear Marcello Brufani when I saw his ‘Laudato Si Mi Signore Per Frate Vento’.

    I was with you in Assisi in 2013 for Pope Francis’s first visit. What a day! Wonderful beyond measure! BTW-Today is Pope Francis’s 7th anniversary as Pope. Bless him!

  • Cara says:

    Unreal visuals of Assisi empty. St Francis will watch over you.
    The loving Italian spirit is alive and well in the singing from the balconies across cities in Italy. Amazing ?? ?? ??

  • Therese mcgowan says:

    Thinking of you and all of Italy from here in Scottsdale, Arizona. The pictures were lovely, but surreal. Take care

  • Janet Eidem says:

    May the virus be driven away, starved, by the precautions being taken and sacrifices being made in Assisi and everywhere around the world. Good will come and all will return as it was. St. Roch, victor over plague, pray for us.

  • Celia says:

    Annie, your walk into Assisi is just as Gino and I did it last May. A magical journey into beautiful Assisi. Never changes except for this present situation. Thank you for the Pace e Bene sign you gave us years ago! I feel connected to Assisi more than ever!

    We are in lockdown here in Santa Clara County as if today-the irony!?

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)