Good morning folks; it's Monday 15th February as we head into a new week and the second half of this month with most of winter behind us now.
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the news and I've just updated the home page with the latest figures and amendments to the rules. The big news is that the northern ski resorts that were due to open today and later this week, have now been ordered to remain closed until 5th March at least. This is obviously a big blow to the tourism sector and local economies who have very little of this year's ski season left. Unfortunately, prevalence of the virus and in particular, the English variant (it makes me cringe every time I hear that phrase!), is high enough to be causing concern in those Alpine regions.
Other regions are experiencing fluctuating fortunes as well: Tuscany, Abruzzo and Liguria have moved from the yellow zone into the orange zone which means restaurants and bars have to close, while on the flip side, Puglia has made the more positive transition in the other direction and is now firmly in the yellow camp (not an actual camp, just to be clear).
Yesterday in Italy there were 11,068 new Covid 19 cases, a reduction of 2,464 from the day before (when there were 13,532). The overall number of people in Italy that currently have the virus is 402,783, an increase of 1,370 against the previous day. It's encouraging to see the number of new cases dropping; last week they looked to be on the rise again so let's hope for a sharper decline over the coming weeks.
Obviously the weather is going to play its part in getting those virus numbers down with the warmer weather not too far away now. It's still very wintery out there today though; Turin continues its current trend of being the coldest city in Italy at 0° Celsius today, while Catania continues to be the warmest with a not so spectacular high of 11° Celsius. Despite those low temperatures, almost everywhere will be sunny.
Away from the pandemic, one item of news caught my attention and I had to double-check that it wasn't a very premature April fools prank. There's a beautiful group of islands in Tuscany called the Tuscan Archipelago, which is also recognised as one of Italy's national parks. The seven islands include Elba which is the largest and some wonderful smaller islands such as Giglio, Pianosa and Giannutri. Montecristo is an off-limits nature reserve while Gorgona is off-limits to most law-abiding citizens as it's a prison.
That leaves the 19 km² island of Capraia which is the northernmost of the island group, a two hour 45 minute ferry ride from the Tuscan mainland port of Livorno and close to the French-owned island of Corsica. That longish ferry journey makes Capraia a rather sleepy place that does liven-up a little bit during the summers when its population swells to around 400 or so. It's at it sleepiest during the winters however and this is what makes the following story so incredible. The winter population on Capraia is in the region of 200 people and lo and behold, in their current midst is a rather prolific burglar.
Capraia's vice-mayor, a local teacher a barman and two fishermen have all been burgled in the last few days while the perpetrator has saved the best for last with a hit on the local newsagent from which he or she has pocketed a cool €60,000. Just like everywhere else in Italy, Capraia is under Covid restrictions at the moment with all but essential travel banned so it follows that the thief must be one of the island's residents. With that in mind, we now have a real-life Agatha Christie-esque drama playing out as the island's three policemen work their way through the list of suspects.
I'll be keeping a very close eye on that story and will let you know how it all pans out. In the meantime, I'll leave you with some lovely images of Capraia, a place we'll all be able to visit when the pandemic is over and this pesky villain has been caught!
My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.