Human Stories

Quarantine Stories: Paolo, Italy

Even though the lockdown situation is different in every European country, we all had to adapt our habits of eating, cooking and grocery shopping. Several people across Europe have opened up about the way their lives have changed during these strange times.

Paolo (46), Levanto, Italy

I live with my wife Diletta, and our two children, Cristina, 20, and Riccardo, 18. But my wife has several brothers and sisters, so our family counts more than twenty people, and we all live nearby. Since the lockdown has started, Diletta has been going to see her parents every two days to check if they need anything. My mom lives in the building next to ours, and we see each other very often via FaceTime. She’s over 70 years old and doesn’t leave the house, so we do the shopping for her. We have devised a system to deliver her groceries: we pass things between our buildings with a thread, as they used to do in the past. 

We go to the grocery store every two days, sometimes every day. We try to optimise, but the shopping we can do in our small coastal town is different from the big food shops that I did when I could still go to the large supermarket near where I work. Now, only residents can go to that big supermarket, so buying food has become a bit more complicated. There is less choice in our small town’s shops, and prices are much higher. In the period immediately after the lockdown, yeast and flour were gone. You could still find some strange types of flour – those that no one else wanted. But we were lucky because my wife is a retailer and has access to go wholesale shopping, and there we bought a lot of pasta and flour. As a boy, I spent three or four seasons as a baker, so they tell me that I cook pizza, focaccia, and bread quite well. This was an opportunity to pick up the rolling pin again. For the drinks, we didn’t go overboard with wine – given our mood, we preferred to get beer. 

Bad news affects me quite easily. But I must say that beyond all the social, ethical, and health concerns of this situation, the thing that makes me suffer the most is not being able to go to the sea. We live 100 meters from the shore, and I have a five-meter boat equipped for fishing. My wife and I like to catch fish and cook what we get. The fishing season would have started just a month ago, and due to the changing climate, it now lasts until early November. What you catch depends on the season, and in this period, we would have caught a lot of so-called oily fish, like mackerel or anchovies. At the market, they call it “poor fish”, but its flavour is exceptional. I would normally manage to go fishing on weekends and on my time off, meaning that during the fishing season, we would eat fish at least twice a week. I can’t even tell you how much it makes me suffer to not go to the sea, and, because for so many days now, it has been sunny, and the sea is as flat as a table – the perfect conditions to be on a boat!  

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