Good morning all on Monday 22nd February. We move into a new week with fire in the skies over Mount Etna which continues to rage, while somewhat less expected was the smaller, but more worrying fire in the skies above Denver; remind me not to get on a Boeing 777 any time soon!
Closer to home, the Coronavirus pandemic continues to throw its almighty spanner in the proverbial works by refusing to budge. Yesterday there were 13,452 new Covid 19 cases reported in Italy, a slight drop of 1,479 from the previous day.
Compared to the likes of Israel, the US and the UK, Italy is lagging behind with its vaccination programme with something like 3.5 million people so far having received a dose. Efforts are being made to speed things up with a new strategy of deferring the booster jab for a longer period, in order to get more first jabs into arms as soon as possible. The big factor here is vaccine supply and while things are pretty slow at the moment, there should be a big improvement in the spring when the Moderna and other vaccines will be available.
However, given the steady number of new cases each day being reported at the moment, the Italian government is expected to extend the partial lockdown until Saturday 27th March. I say partial lockdown as the current restrictions are nowhere near as strict as the first set were. In fact, we've just reached the anniversary of the first lockdown; at that time, you needed to get a permit to go shopping and you couldn't even leave the house to exercise. The main restrictions at the moment centre around the ban on travel between regions and the closure of shops, bars and restaurants in the different colour-coded zones, of which you can find a full breakdown on the home page.
Along with the vaccines, the weather will eventually help us out of this situation but it's still not really playing ball in that respect. The major northern city of Milan will reach a maximum temperature of 11° Celsius today, with things predictably warming up the further south you go: Florence 13° C, Rome 13° C, Naples 15° C and Palermo 16° C. These are hardly temperatures to set the pulses racing but we are still in February and at least there's a good deal of sunshine around, particularly in the south.
I still have no update on the main stories from last week, i.e. the escaped puma in Puglia and the whodunnit on Capraia, but as alluded to above, Mount Etna has now erupted four times in the last four days, no doubt eager for its share of column inches. The photos of molten lava and ash clouds flashing around the world have caused a good deal of worry for the safety of the people living close to the volcano, while those people themselves have nonchalantly laughed off those concerns as they're quite used to it. In fact they worry more when Etna goes silent as they don't know what its up to then.
In the absence of any really interesting news stories over the last 24 hours, I'll use a simple celebrity spot to link to a little feature. American actor Liev Schreiber was spotted out walking his dog in Venice over the weekend; good work by the local paparazzi to spot him even when he was wearing a mask. He's in Italy to shoot a new war film apparently so I'm looking forward to that.
Venice is one of Italy's premium tourist attractions and it's easy to understand why. It's a city built on the sea and there really aren't too many of those around. This, coupled with its historic buildings from the medieval and Renaissance periods makes it one of the first places people wish to visit when they come to Italy. Apart from the gondolas being paddled by snazzily-dressed gondoliers, it has a number of landmark sights such as Saint Mark's Square, the Rialto Bridge, the Doge's Palace and Saint Mark's Basilica. Venice is the central island of the Venice Lagoon, but there are many other islands, including the wacky, multi-coloured world of Burano, replete with its own leaning tower and an important centre of the lace trade, while just a short distance and one letter away is Murano, famous for its production of glass (and infamous for the prices of said glass!).
I'll do another feature on the wider region of Veneto soon but for now, I'll leave you with some images of Venice and we can all look forward to the day when we can go back there. Back with more tomorrow.
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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.