Good morning on Monday 26th April as we roll out the red carpet for a new week. Last night's Oscars proved successful for several British stars but the Italians were left empty handed aside from an appearance on stage by songstress Laura Pausini.
Today is a big day of hope, excitement and worry in equal measure as a number of Coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Italy's twenty regions have for some time been divided up into a traffic-light system of categories with those worst-affected by the pandemic being placed in the red zone of severest restrictions and the regions with less prevalence of the virus in the orange or yellow zones.
It had reached the stage in the last month or so when most regions were in either the red or orange zone but as of today, the regions have been recategorised with the majority now in the yellow zone. A road map with dates pertaining to when specific businesses can open up has been put in place and at regular intervals, certain restrictions will be lifted.
As far as today is concerned however, 14 of the twenty regions are in the yellow zone which means all types of shops can open, as well as restaurants and bars serving at outdoor tables. The stiffer restrictions of the orange zones are still in place in the most southerly regions of Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily where restaurants can only serve takeaway meals. Non-essential shops are allowed to open in the orange zone but they're not allowed to in the red zone within which Sardinia is now the only region. It's worth noting that the white zone which has lighter restrictions than yellow, has no regions currently within it and the only one that's been in it within the last two months is Sardinia which is now a red zone.
The key data from yesterday's pandemic update showed 13,158 new cases of Covid 19, a slight rise on the previous Sunday, but an overall figure for the previous week of 92,757, a drop of more than seven thousand from the previous week.
Italy's vaccine supplies have been boosted in the last few days with several million doses expected to arrive this coming week and a further 15 million during the month of May. The daily vaccination numbers have seen a significant jump in recent days as well: yesterday for example there were 496,893 jabs carried out, the highest number so far. Around 17.5 million Italians have now received at least one jab and 5 million of those have completed their vaccination cycle of either two jabs or a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
In other news, the latest Italian town to offer homes for the nominal price of €1 is Castiglione di Sicilia, a hill town in the Metropolitan City of Catania province. As always there are certain caveats and conditions attached to the offer; around 900 abandoned homes are up for grabs for "as little as €1" in attempt to breathe new life into the local economy where the population has dwindled to 3,000, something like an 80% drop over the course of the last century.
Another story comes from the Sardinian island of Budelli where the one permanent resident is sadly being evicted after acting as custodian for the last 30 years. The story of 81 year old Mauro Morandi is surely worthy of a film; originally from the northern Italian city of Modena, he was on an expedition to the South Pacific when his yacht ran into trouble just off Budelli in 1989 and as chance would have it, this was the moment when the previous caretaker of the island was about to retire. On a whim, Morandi decided to take over the role and has been there ever since. Unfortunately, the island, one of several in the pretty La Maddalena Archipelago has protected status and some environmental work is required which means his home, an old World War Two bunker can no longer be used.
Today's photos come from the central Italian region of Umbria and one of its most historic towns. Spoleto is a hill town that you can explore via a funky system of escalators that has its own map, a bit like an underground train system does. The escalator system allows you to reach such diverse places as the Rocca Albornoziana fortress at the top of the town's hill and the Roman Theatre towards the bottom which was the scene of an horrific incident in the 14th century when hundreds of supporters of the Guelph political faction were slaughtered on its steps.
Spoleto is positively bristling with sights from beautiful piazzas to museums and its beautiful main square: Piazza del Duomo, home of its cathedral.
That's all from me for today; let's hope people remain sensible with so many restrictions being eased and that the vaccination rollout can accelerate and keep the pandemic in check.
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.