Looking to write from some sort of normalcy, interesting travel spots, ancient mountain villages, living in the Italian culture – shopping, commuting — actualizing your Italian property dreams. It all seems to be happy talk during these desperate times. In writing our newsletter just the other day, and faced with the same dilemma, I came up with the idea of using my personal Lockdown Diary as a springboard for ideas. This engendered a positive response from our subscribers who are normally expecting floods of graphs, numerical data, foreign exchange rates, futures. With entire economies shut down, in actuality we have neither data nor predictions – no one knows what is going to happen – since our current reality is grocery, drug store, and garbage runs, together with “stay at home”. This said, how about weaving Italian experiences with our present situation? Our topic then Red Zone Good News.

          Let’s start with the practical necessities—shopping. Grocery shopping in Italy remains generally local as well as daily, meaning even if you shop in a supermarket, it is usually walkable from your house. The small markets, (“alimentari”), occupy this space as well. (See our December 1, 2019 blog on food shopping in Lazio) Not only do these markets distribute food, but they ALL deliver, even the supermarkets, in good times as well. Yes, some people drive to shop, but parking lot sizes are small and smaller, so…… Now, what does this mean for pandemic locked-down citizens? It means that you can follow government rules about exiting your house, shop and get exercise all at the same time!


          The food outlets also help us follow the rules – maintaining distanced waiting lines inside and out, disinfecting each cart/basket as it is used, passing out gloves, controlling any hoarding buying. I live in a neighborhood in Roma Nord (so not in the historic center) boasting of at least six walkable food markets for my use, including delivery. This being Italy, delivery can be by van, car, motorscooter, or foot. This is especially important for seniors or others at risk at this time. As a result, living in a big city, decentralized by neighborhood, such as Rome, can be a social, not to mention helpful experience.

          Layered atop this Roman neighborhood experience, another thought from my Lockdown Diary exemplary of good news from the Red Zone is the responsible, caring and helpful nature of Italians during these distressing times. Despite images from all over the world of panic buying and ignoring of distance norms, we can truthfully say we have seen little to none of this at least in this area of Rome. From the first lockdown days when everyone was adjusting from daily or 2-day shopping habits to perhaps every 4 days, lines have been manageable, seniors given line preference, shelves never have been empty. Granted, there are very few “big box” grocery stores (such as can be found in the US) promoting hoarding in Rome, so that may account for some of this behavior, but whatever the reason it has made these 4 weeks bearable.

          What do these news bits from the Red Zone mean then to those of you who are dreaming of buying property in Italy, and to those of us who want to assist you in realizing that dream? Short and sweet – you will not be sorry if you choose to spend time in this culture. Whether in good times or bad, your social environment is vitally important. Watch how a country deals with adversity, and it will help you make your living choice decisions. A few years ago, the mayor of Bari, a city on the southeast coast of Italy and the recipient of many immigrant boats, when questioned about why he was taking such good care of his “guests” (in a time of populist, nationalist fever), he replied: “What would you have me do? Turn them out, throw them in the sea?” A perfect description of an Italian soul.

Italians singing balconies

By:  Staff of CCI and Kathleen Ventre