Good morning everyone on Monday 17th May. It's been a few weeks since my last blog entry, during which time I've been making some important improvements on the website. Now that we're getting closer to the summer and the email box is starting to fill up again, I'll revert to a weekly slot for the blog but will continue the daily bulletins with the virus numbers every day via Twitter.
So what's been happening in May so far? Well, the pandemic situation has improved a great deal; at the time of my last post on Friday 30th April there had been 87,186 cases over the course of the previous seven days, a daily average of 12,455. As of yesterday, that weekly number was down to just 48,772 and the average dropped to 6,960 new cases per day, that's a whopping 44% decrease in 16 days!
Without doing anything more than looking at those figures, it seems that the warmer weather is playing its part once again, just as it did last year. I remember driving around the country last summer and listening out for the latest figures to come through on the radio and they were always in the region of 200. I think if we can get to that sort of figure again after everything we've been through this year, that would be more than satisfactory.
Of course we can't give all of the credit for this improvement to the weather; we've had another few weeks of vaccinations taking place and several occasions where the daily jabs carried out have exceeded half a million. In total, there have been a little short of 19 million vaccinations made which equates to around 32% of the population. Of those 19 million people, around 8 and a half million have been fully vaccinated; either with two jabs or a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
Here's a summary of the new cases from yesterday's bulletin:
Key: Purple shows an improvement and orange a deterioration
Number of new coronavirus cases in Italy today: 5,753 - decrease of 2,536 from equivalent day last week (Sunday 9th May - 8,289)
Number of people currently infected in Italy: 328,882 (decrease of 3,948 compared to previous day)
Total number of new cases in the last 7 days (10th - 16th May): 48,772
Total number of new cases in previous 7 day period (3rd - 9th May): 66,717
Weekly difference: decrease of 17,945
R number (rate of transmission)
Latest R number as of Friday 14th May: 0.86
Previous R number: 0.89
Since last Saturday (15th May), outdoor swimming pools have been allowed to open and we've already had a few weeks of restaurants opening outdoors and movement between regions in the yellow zone. As of today, all but one region (Valle d'Aosta), is in the yellow zone where restrictions are at their most relaxed.
The focus is now on easing a number of other restrictions with the evening curfew among those measures under discussion. At present, businesses have to close by 10pm but it's possible that the time will either be extended to later opening, or even scrapped altogether. There should be a decision on that by the end of this week.
As of yesterday (Sunday 16th May), the requirement for a 5 day quarantine on arrival in Italy has been removed, as long as a negative Covid 19 test is provided. This applies to citizens of the member states of the EU, Great Britain and Israel.
Of course this positive news should be tempered by the fact that travellers to Italy from countries such as the UK and the USA still have a number of measures in place, including their own quarantines and in many cases an outright ban on travel.
So in terms of planning a holiday to Italy from abroad, there's still a great deal of uncertainty, even if there's much more optimism within that. If Italy's new case numbers continue on their current trajectory at a time when there are more freedoms in place, other countries will of course take note and hopefully make those vacations possible again. Based on nothing more than a hunch, and on the assumption that things continue to improve as they currently are, by the middle of June we should be looking at a situation in which it's possible to travel to and from Italy without any quarantine at either end.
My current work on the website is based around writing descriptions for the many landmarks of Italy; by this I mean everything from castles to bridges, statues, Roman amphitheatres and the like. Yesterday I was working on a number of Italian towers and they're a surprising source of fascination. They were built for different reasons which was sometimes defensive, sometimes decorative or at other times an attempt to intimidate a rival state or simply a show of financial strength.
To say the list of Italian towers is quirky is something of an understatement; everyone knows the Leaning Tower of Pisa but at last count, there were around a dozen campaniles or watchtowers that have that slightly unwanted tag attached to them. Notable examples are the Leaning Tower of Portogruaro, the Leaning Bell Tower of Burano and the Two Towers of Bologna that both lean to varying degrees.
More quirky than leany is the 14th century steeple that protrudes from Lake Resia in Trentino Alto-Adige while the quirkiest story of all surrounds the Torre Ghirlandina in the city of Modena. On display in the tower is the bucket that supposedly started the "War of the Bucket" in 1325, fought between Modena and its rival Bologna, two of the great cities in modern-day Emilia Romagna.
There are various theories as to what started the War of the Bucket but one is that it was due to a theft of the bucket by the Modenese from a well in Bologna. Either way, I'll be drilling down on that story soon, to see if I can get to the bottom of it, investigating sources and hoping to divine what really happened.
I'll leave you for now with some of Italy's quirkiest towers and I'll be back with another blog in my new weekly slot next Monday.
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.