Italy on Lockdown: Locals on What Life is Like

Thanks to the new coronavirus, Italy is on lockdown until 3 April. The quarantine means, among other things, that all “non-essential” businesses, from restaurants to gyms, are closed. 

We’ve heard what life on lockdown is like from the news. But what do locals say? Here are some of my favorite stories from locals in Italy on how it all feels, what it’s really like, and how they’re keeping themselves busy — plus, some social media accounts to follow for live updates (which include images of beautiful meals and landscapes. Because Italy is still Italy!). 

Also, make sure to check out my previous post on how you can help Italy during these difficult times. 

Are there any stories you’ve read from locals in Italy, or other social media accounts, that you think should be on this list? Pop your suggestions in the comments or email me at

Life on lockdown in Italy: must-reads from locals 

Even before the lockdown, Rome was… different. My dear friend Eric Reguly, the Rome-based European bureau chief of the Globe & Mail, went for a strange sort of passeggiata: “For the first time in my dozen years in Rome, I could hear the water from Piazza Navona’s baroque fountains the moment I entered the square.” His postcard from a bizarrely quiet capital city is lovely, and strange.

Even the first day of lockdown “wasn’t as quiet as I expected,” writes Rome resident Jeannie Marshall. “Oblivious to government directives, the parrots were squawking in the eucalyptus trees and the neighbourhood cats were sunning themselves on the sidewalk.” Her beautifully-written account of the early days of lockdown reads like a love letter to Rome that manages to warm your heart, despite the sometimes chilling details.

Then it all changed. “Welcome to the Zona Protetta,” writes blogger and journalist Erica Firpo, who lives in Rome with her family. She describes exactly what everyone in Italy can and can’t do and how they’re coping.

Erica also is updating followers @ericafirpo on Instagram and @Moscerina on Twitter. And her husband Darius Arya, whose nonprofit the American Institute for Roman Culture I mentioned here, is posting regularly on Instagram at @dariusaryadigs and on Twitter and on Facebook at @saverome.

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Rome in the time of coronavirus. Welcome to the Zona Protetta, a more cautious #Italy with the same vibe as those quiet Ferragosto days of closures, but with much more temperance and some new rules. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put into effect country-wide DPCM 9 decree fondly known as #Iorestoacasa (I’m staying at home), deigning the entire country a protected zone where all citizens, residents and guests follow the same (understandably) rigid decorum regulations, closures and travel rules to prevent the spread of the #coronavirus, aka COVID-19. It’s a big deal, it’s serious, and we are following these rules through (at least) April 3, 2020. What does this mean for me? For my family? For my neighbors? First and foremost, it means there is nothing to be afraid of, instead everything to admire as Italy is doing its very best to shut down the virus. Our part is easy, we just have to follow through and be responsible to ourselves and our fellow citizens. This is more than washing hands and staying one meter distance apart. We’ve been asked to remain at home and make smart, conscientious choices. I’ve shared more about what we are doing (and not doing) on my site (link in bio) and you may have caught me frustrated this morning after attempting to write and homeschool at the same time. We’re all in this together and we’ll get through this. I ❤️🇮🇹

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Elyssa Bernard of Romewise has a no-nonsense take on the situation, answering questions from curious readers and would-be travelers to Italy like is it safe to visit Rome right now? and should I cancel my trip to Italy?. She’s also updating followers on Instagram and Twitter.

The magazine The Local in Italy has a heartwarming roundup of ways that Italians are keeping their (and one another’s) spirits up. (Yes, there are  all those great videos of people singing from their terraces).

Despite how stressful it all seems right now, “It’s important to remember just how resilient a country Italy is,” writes Georgette Jupe of Girl in Florence. She talks about how the country is being affected, as well as the many wonderful ways in which locals and businesses are pulling together to help one another. She’s also posting from Florence at @girlinflorence on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Our new normal from #yourflorence

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(More) social media accounts to follow for quarantine updates across Italy

My friend Antonello Losito is posting updates in his Instagram stories from his native Puglia — which seems, comfortingly, to be as beautiful and sunny as ever. Follow him at @antonellolosito on Instagram.

Food writer Elizabeth Minchilli (who I’ve mentioned before) is updating everyone on Instagram and Twitter from the countryside of Umbria — and making it clear that even under quarantine, la vita è bella (or can be).

I love following @allaboutitalian on Instagram for her Italian language tips, which now include dual-language updates about the quarantine situation in her home of Cremona (oh, the world we live in!).

Tour guide Lauren Mouat is updating followers about lockdown in Livorno on Instagram at @laurenissima_unlock_italy.

Gillian McGuire, the Rome resident behind the blog Gillian’s Lists (also mentioned before) is posting updates at @gmcguireinrome on Instagram and on Twitter.

Also from Rome, Understanding Rome is providing updates (and some yummy-looking meals) on Instagram. Linda Martinez of the beloved independent hostel The Beehive Rome is updating followers on Instagram at @thebeehiverome. And @thecatholictraveler is keeping everyone posted about what life is like from inside “quarantined Catholic Rome”.

Curious how Venice is faring? Follow @venicebybridge on Instagram.

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We were out today briefly a few times to walk Rosie. She knows something is up. She keeps looking back at us from her lead as if you say, “what is going on?” Dogs are so smart that way. After aqua alta, she was sick to her stomach. A case of doggie nerves. 😔 When I saw all these tables and umbrellas today in the warm sun, I thought don’t worry beautiful Campo, I’ll be back to enjoy you. To see friends and sip a spritz. We’ll all be back! xx ❤️🇮🇹 and ps those windows and crooked balconies! 💛 #iorestacasa #veneziapersempre #duriibanchi #venezia #venice #forzavenezia #venise #veneziapersempre #perfect_italia #veneziaRestaaCasa #map_of_italy#loves_united_venezia #loves_united_italy #ig_italia #italy #italia #italiainfoto #ig_europa #venedig #loves_united_italy #beautifuldestinations #destination_italy⁣ #italiastyle20 #through_italy #lifegoeson #wearevenezia #italyvenice #veneziaperimmagini #tuttoandràbene

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In Milan, @doingitaly is keeping everyone posted on Instagram.

Follow the hashtag #iorestoacasa on Instagram or Twitter to see how ordinary Italian residents are following the decree to, literally, “stay at home”.

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  1. I think it would be great if this featured a story on an average person. Elizabeth Minchili in her spacious country home where it just seems like an unexpected vacation filled with eating and drinking is not your average Italian.

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