I thought I would get this out of the way first. Yes, a year after the first lockdown, on 15 March Calabria changed from yellow zone to orange and then from 29 March we became a red zone. Apart from Christmas, Calabria hasn’t been in strictest zone since November. But the Government reduced the threshold of the RT number from 2 to 1 because of the new easier to catch variants, especially the English variant (sigh). So now, any region with a RT number higher than 1, goes into the orange zone, higher than 1.25 goes into the red zone. Also considered, is the number of people in emergency care in hospital and apparently it is close to saturation. I think the healthcare capacity in Calabria needs to improve as 34 in Emergency Care should not be classed as saturated for a region of 2 million people. But what do I know?
Like Christmas, during the Easter period, the whole country will be in a red zone, but this is the time when 2 people can go to another household to celebrate. Then from the 7 April it all depends on numbers. At the moment it looks like Calabria will remain in the red zone (sigh again).
What this means for Scalea?
Scalea has low numbers, which is great, but obviously we have to follow the region rules. As Scalea thrives on the hospitality industry this affects the city immensely, there are many bars and restaurants which are normally open all year round, many are not. We have noticed for sale or for rent signs on bars and other establishments. Obviously, bars and restaurants can do takeaways (not for alcohol) but that is not the normal Italian culture. We do not see people wandering around with a coffee in their hand thank goodness. But some bars have placed tall tables outside where people can stand and drink their caffè, but now they are in paper or plastic cups. People still meet up but in a different way. But 10-20 caffè a day will not keep a bar afloat as they are usually cost about €1-2 euro. But I guess anything helps. They do make the bulk of their money in the summer, so just hope they are able to recoup some of what they have lost later this year. There is some help from the government but there a lot of red tape and it can take a while apparently.
When we were in the yellow zone, they were open during the day, up until 6pm. Again, this goes against Italian culture. For example, restaurants normally open for lunch until around 3pm, then reopen at 7-7.30pm until the last people go home. So, a year of restrictions is taking its toll on everyone.
During this time, the local government of Scalea decided to increase local taxes. Obviously, this didn’t go down well. Conversely, the national government wiped-out long-term tax debts so people who owes tax debts from before 2015 I think has disappeared. So, some residents and the opposition have not been happy. It has been interesting and quite entertaining reading the argumentative posts on Facebook and the response from the Comune. It is all very public. It is definitely different to the UK.
One question we get asked the most is “Have you had your vaccine yet?”. The answer is no. Priority was placed for all health workers. Then over 80s. Then teachers as schools were open and probably will be after easter. Next will be over 70s with underlying health conditions. Our friend Tony E has had both of his. It seems like Italy is concentrating on getting more people to have both vaccines in a few weeks rather than one then the other in however many months’ time. But it has been a been chaotic process and shortages all over Italy and of course Calabria is at the bottom of the list. But the target is 80% of people in Italy to have both vaccines by September. We shall see.
So, what have we been doing in March 2021? Well, pretty much the same as usual. We have met up with our friends and had meals in restaurants and drinks in bars when they were open. We have helped each other with things around the houses. We welcomed Tony H back when he returned from the UK and celebrated Denisa’s birthday, which was very good fun. So, when we can, we make the most of it.
We have made changes to our downstairs terrace. I painted a wall purple, although I did want it to be darker so it brings out the green in the plants that are growing there. I guess I will repaint at some point. John also created a wall of shelves on the other side to put plant pots and knick-knacks.
The wood shop where we bought the woods is a great place to go. The owner cuts the wood for you and is friends, it is so cheap compared to what we know from the UK and there was a wooden caravan and seating pergola thing which was interesting.
John also put a dart board up that we had our previous home in the UK. This seems to have pleased a lot of people who are here or coming over when they can. So that means darts nights at some point in the future. I am completely rubbish, but I guess I can practise.
Overall March was pretty cold. It was a shock as it is normally when it starts to get warmer. We had to buy more pellets as this time we usually do not need the pellet stove on or at least we use it a lot less. There was more snow on top of the mountains but luckily no snow at our level. Temperatures reached to the lows of 1°C at night-time. None of us was happy about that. Also, that dreaded north wind was here, so it felt very cold. Again, we were extremely pleased that we changed the door and windows. But towards the very end of the month, the hot weather came and we now eat breakfast and lunch on the downstairs terrace, which is a lovely, sheltered place to be.
Freddie seems to be enjoying the nice weather. He didn’t like the cold. It is the first time he has felt it as he was born around June last year. Now, we don’t see a lot of him, only for food and to sleep at night. He goes out and about around the embankment and arounds neighbours’ properties chasing all manner of things. But currently, there is only us here and he fears everyone and any noise (well apart from thunder and fireworks). If anyone comes to our house he runs away and we do not see him until it is all quiet again. So, when people do finally get a chance to return to their holiday homes here, it will be fascinating to see how he reacts to the very noisy neighbours.
On that note, I thought I would end on a cute Freddie photo keeping warm.
So that is it from me for March 2021.
I hope April is good for you and anyone who is suffering for whatever reason, hope you come out the other side better very soon.