Good morning everyone on Tuesday 16th March. The effects of the new set of restrictions are being felt across the country as the efforts to combat the virus step up a gear.
Yesterday in Italy there were 15,267 new cases of Covid-19 which on the face of it sounds quite good compared to the 21,300 of the day before, but the reality is there's always a lower figure on Mondays and if we compare to the previous Monday, yesterday's figure was a little bit higher. Clutching at the proverbial straw however, the rate of increase does appear to have slowed and with the tighter restrictions we should see those numbers start to gradually fall.
Perhaps that fall wouldn't be quite so gradual if Europe's politicians didn't talk themselves into such a political mess with the nonsensical suspension of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. There is no evidence that even the minuscule number of people that have died from blood clots since taking the vaccine was related to the vaccine itself. Of course, people were dying before Covid-19 ever existed and blood clots was one of the ways they died. There has been no increase in the number of people dying that way but of course, it will still happen because the vaccine isn't there to stop that.
As we all know, the vaccine has been created to stop the Coronavirus pandemic and the horrific number of people that have been dying from it across the world. Yesterday, in Italy alone, 354 people tragically lost their lives to the virus. We have a vaccine that can dramatically reduce that number but we're not using it because of a much smaller number of unrelated deaths that now have to be investigated. Even yesterday morning, Italy was happy to use the vaccine but shortly after Germany suspended its use, Italy followed suit. It's clearly politically-motivated, a point echoed yesterday by Italy's director general of the medicines authority Nicola Magrini.
It's quite ironic that the Italian government fell less than a month ago because of their perceived lack of efficiency in tackling the virus; the new Prime Minister Mario Draghi took up his post on 21st February in a wave of optimism that saw him as the antidote to the pandemic. There's a reason the Italian government has changed hands more than 60 times since the end of World War Two!
So, while the already slow vaccine rollout slows down even further, let's see if the weather can do its bit to help us out. Most of the country should see some sunshine today, particularly in the north, while central and southern areas will experience some cloudy spells. The coolest temperatures today will be found in the city of Terni in Umbria with an expected high of 9° Celsius while Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia tops the charts at 16° C.
The weather, the pandemic and the politics surrounding it are doing little to lift the spirits at the moment but I have the elixir of Ischia to share with you. One of the Phlegraean Islands just off the coast of Naples, Ischia holds a very special place in my affections; it was where my Italian adventure started and the subject of my Ischia Review website which has been going for almost ten years now.
It was a regular feature of my first week in Ischia for my jaw to be somewhere in the vicinity of the floor as I gazed open-mouthed at the island's wonders. There are other places in Italy that create a huge impression such as Venice or Rome for example, but the difference with those places is that you've already got to know them in some way by watching films or seeing news reports about them before your visit. Even though I have Italian roots and had visited the country many times before going there, I had never heard of Ischia until my arrival.
Not only was I taken aback by the aesthetic beauty of the place, I just couldn't fathom why it received such little attention compared to its more famous locations nearby: namely Capri and Sorrento. I love both of those places and will sing their praises from the rooftops, but neither can match Ischia for me. Not that size always matters, but Ischia is roughly three times larger than Capri and of course Sorrento is just one town whereas Ischia has half a dozen. Such is Capri's popularity that in recent years the authorities there have looked for ways to reduce the number of visitors and the overcrowding they cause. This is much less of a problem for Ischia with its extra space and its comparative lack of celebrity. Ischia only starts to get noticeably crowded in August but that happens in every seaside location in Italy.
At the centre of Ischia is the imposing Mount Epomeo whose verdant slopes are one reason the island has the epithet of "Isola Verde", the Green Island. The volcanic slopes of Mount Epomeo roll down to a number of seaside towns bursting with southern Italian charm such as Forio, Lacco Ameno and the pretty fishing village of Sant'Angelo. A little way around the headland from Sant'Angelo is the spectacular Maronti Beach which is just one of around twenty beaches on the island.
In addition to this, the island has some hugely important cultural sights to enjoy such as the beautiful La Mortella Gardens and the unforgettable Castello Aragonese which sits just a short way out to sea in the charming borgo of Ischia Ponte. Ischia's lure is given further lustre by a series of thermal water parks which take advantage of the island's volcanic activity; these outdoor water parks offer beautiful scenery and the chance to bathe in waters of varying temperatures.
You can reach Ischia by ferry or hydrofoil from Naples with most people flying into Naples International Airport first. During the summer months, it's also possible to hop across to Ischia for a day trip from Sorrento, Capri or certain locations on the Amalfi Coast. You can find much, much more about Ischia on the Ischia Review website but feel free to ask me if you'd like to know anything specific.
Ok that's it from me for today as we patiently await an end to the pandemic. Enjoy the photos of Ischia and as always, let's hope for some improvement in the situation when the new case figures come through later today.
Buona giornata (that's Italian for "have a nice day" by the way!)
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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.