Good morning all on Monday 8th March as a new week begins. We're still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic but hope springs eternal: Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza (speranza = hope in English) has pledged that anyone in Italy that wants to be vaccinated, will be given the chance by the end of summer. That last bit is a little bit vague as "by the end of summer" could be interpreted in different ways but you would imagine a degree of ambiguity is necessary.
I'll give yesterday's Covid 19 figures now, but as of later today, I'll be putting out a daily bulletin with the latest figures and statistical analysis as soon as the figures are released by the Italian Ministry of Health each evening. I'll continue the blog in the same way each weekday morning, but I just wanted to make life easier for those people that are only interested in the facts and figures.
So the latest bulletin from yesterday reported 20,765 new cases of Coronavirus in Italy, a decrease of 2,876 from the previous day. Now on the face of it, that's very good news; a definite pattern emerged last week which started with a sharp rise in daily figures which gradually slowed towards the end of the week before levelling-out on Saturday and culminating in yesterday's reduction. A note of caution however, this is still an increase from the same day the week before when there were 17,447 new cases. The overall rise week on week from last week compared to the week before was pretty horrendous, practically doubling.
Italy will soon be authorising the use of the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine for the over 65's. It's hard to not feel frustration over this news; the country has been crying out for vaccine supplies and had one of the largest stockpiles of this particular vaccine of any country in Europe. Whilst the authorities dithered and demanded more evidence that it worked, denying the reports coming out of other countries, the vaccination rollout stalled and the case numbers rose again. Whether or not the stockpiled vaccine was redirected for use on younger people is unclear but it does give the appearance of process winning against progress. More supplies are on the way now; the Russian Sputnik vaccine is also being considered at this stage, so let's hope for a rapid upgrade in the rollout to get us out of this mess.
I look forward to the day when I don't have to update any of these figures but they're still sufficiently big that they can't be ignored. Along with those latest figures there have also been some changes to the colour-coded regions: Campania is now a red zone where the restrictions are most severe, while Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto are also heading in the wrong direction from yellow to orange. The one positive move sees Liguria go from orange to yellow. A full breakdown of which region lies within which restriction zone, along with the restrictions themselves, can be found on the home page.
There is though, life beyond the pandemic and grabbing life with both hands over the weekend was the Italian band Maneskin who scooped the top award at the Sanremo festival. Rather breaking the mould of the typical act that wins the competition, Maneskin's anti-establishment rock won the day over the usual clean-cut image that prevails, and how refreshing that is.
On the weather front: most of Italy will be enjoying some pre-spring sunshine today with notable exceptions in Rome and Perugia where rain is expected. Temperatures remain roughly how they have over the past month: Turin will be the coldest today at 7° Celsius while Cagliari, Naples and Florence will see a a layer or two removed at 16° C.
For today's spotlight feature we're going to head to the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, so good they named it thrice. The region borders Austria to its north and Slovenia to its east, and it's here on the Slovenian border that we find one of its most spectacular locations: the Laghi di Fusine.
There are two lakes here: the Lago di Fusine Superiore and the Lago di Fusine Inferiore. There's something of a double-meaning at play with those words: superiore relates to upper, opposed to the inferiore which means lower. It seems a bit churlish to say one of these lakes is superior or inferior to the other with the English meanings of the words, but it is indeed the Lago Superiore which generally wins the most plaudits.
One of the best things about these two lakes is that they're right next to each other. Arriving by car from the nearby ski resort of Tarvisio, the first lake you reach is Lago Inferiore where you'll find a few facilities around the lake such as a restaurant and some parking areas. You can walk all around the lake, mostly through the woods that surround it, then once you've seen enough, you can make your way to the upper lake, either via the main road or again walking through the woods. If you choose to visit the upper lake first, you're rewarded by a larger car park and more refreshment areas.
This is an area that gets really busy during the summers with tourists coming from every direction, a large proportion of which are from just over the border in neighbouring Slovenia.
I'll let the photos of the Laghi di Fusine speak for themselves. As mentioned earlier, I'll put out a bulletin later today, as soon as the latest coronavirus figures are announced, but I'll be back in my usual slot tomorrow morning with another blog.
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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.