Pregnant Woman In Italy Describes What It’s Really Like To Be In Quarantine
All across Italy, ordinary men and women are continuing to show immense inner strength and bravery as they wait out the nationwide lockdown.
Almost 16 million people have been left effectively quarantined, with Italy being the second-worst affected country to be struck by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The famous piazzas have fallen quiet, and people throughout the country are remaining at home under restrictive measures. All shops apart from grocery stores and chemists have shut their doors, while sporting events and public gatherings have been halted.
Despite the widespread disruption, many Italians have shown an incredible sense of solidarity, keeping the country’s vibrant, distinctive spirit alive from their homes and balconies.
Footage from cities such as Napoli and Siena show citizens leaning from their windows to sing with their neighbours. These videos reflect resilience and community during a time of great difficulty, and have left people all over the world deeply moved.
UNILAD caught up with one woman who is currently living under these quarantine conditions in Rome. At eight months pregnant, Valentina is now unable to visit her family in Siena where she is originally from.
However, although she cannot get there in person, Valentina has expressed great pride in the residents of her beloved hometown, whose strength has now become known throughout the world.
After footage of quarantined neighbours singing Canto della Verbena (And While Siena Sleeps) to each other in Siena went viral, Valentina was among those to share the vid.
She has now spoken with UNILAD about what this song means to her, and the significance it holds for the people of this beautiful Tuscan city:
The song Canto della Verbena is like a city anthem that is often sang like a ‘mantra’ during the period of the Palio. It gives me chills every time I hear it.
It just reminds us how proud we are of our small city. People often change the words of this chant to taunt or make fun of the rival ‘contrade’. In this case it was used to stay united against Covid-19, and it gives even more chills. A lesson of humanity for everyone.
After sharing the clip on March 12, Valentina went to sleep after being rather happy with her 100 likes, and awoke to a staggering 35,000 likes. At the time of writing, the video has more than 1.5 million views.
Although Valentina has found it tricky to field a multitude of online questions – giving her a new appreciation for social influencers – she has been happy to see the love people across the globe have shown for Siena, and for Italy as a country:
This gave me the chance to see how many people all over the world love my city, and Italy. And even in this time of trouble, people are saying ‘Oh, when this is all over, I want to come back to Siena!’ This gives me a lot of hope, and of course I am proud of being Italian and Senese.
Even though she is more than 140 miles from her family and the city she loves, Valentina has been comforted by the knowledge that the ‘Senese spirit’ remains strong:
From here, I can feel that the Senese spirit is still strong – this is our spirit since a long time ago. In the middle ages we were struck by the plague while building the cathedral, and our cathedral is still safe and strong today, despite the sacrifice of the population.
Senese people are used to sustain each other within each ‘contrada’ in any period of the year thanks to the tradition of the Palio, and I guess that in this time of trouble their willing to fight is even stronger.
We are famous all over the world for the Palio and the inner rivalry that exists within the city districts, however we are always ready to drop our ‘weapons’ to sustain the whole city.
This is a small mirror for what is happening all over Italy, where politicians had to unify to fight the virus and put health on top of everything. I think that solidarity is a special Italian quality, and I am proud of that.
As a geologist who works for the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), Valentina studies the field of planetary geology; the geology of other terrestrial planets within our Solar System. And she has some pretty exciting developments coming up next month.
Valentina works for the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo space mission which is flying to Mercury and, on April 10, will fly right past the Earth. This exciting day is also very close to her due date, and she hopes the situation will be resolved by then.
Valentina told UNILAD about how her work has impacted her outlook on the outbreak:
I do research and also science outreach, and I think this helped me spreading the video at start. Thanks to my work, I know how much having no boundaries is important for humanity. Stay united, never underestimate the risks, and fight for the future.
Offering advice to those in the UK who may be concerned about potential future lockdowns, Valentina said:
My first advice is do not panic. However, at the same time, you should not underestimate the problem. Follow hygiene recommendations that are circulating in these days.
Your underground system is fabulous, however be sure that you always wash your hands once you get off, and try to keep security distance with the others.
Avoid crowded places for a while, and if you feel a flu and temperature ask your doctor whether it is the case that you test yourself for COVID-19 (in Italy this is for free).
By following these rules, you can avoid major lockdowns, so my advice is prevent, prevent, prevent!
However, if a lockdown will ever happen also in the UK, let me be a bit more philosophical. Seize the moment to discover the value of your free time, ‘discover your home’ and think through all the things that we are doing to this world that made us forget that we are not invincible in front of nature.
Look at the virus as a romantic/tragic hero, who strikes regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. It’s scary, but at the same time it can teach us a lot. This lockdown is teaching us a lot, despite the uncertainty for the future. Not all evil things come to hurt you, we say.
Coronavirus is all anyone is talking about right now, and it can, in all honesty, feel a little bit overwhelming to take in as individual just trying to go about your ordinary life.
However, that is precisely why we need to band together and channel Valentina’s ‘Senese spirit’, looking out for and comforting another while showing common courtesy in our everyday actions.
By practising good personal hygiene and keeping to the scientific facts and advice published by the World Health Organization, we can all practice the sort of care and strength shown by so many remarkable individuals across Italy.
It’s okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our Coronavirus campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization on Coronavirus, click here.