Three months later, we were still there, with the lockdown finally lifting – but of course, still with continuing social distancing.
I used my time of forced confinement to make this video – about what it was like to live 10-weeks under lockdown – in Italy – a country where “Lockdown” really does mean LOCKDOWN…
We were fortunate that the apartment where we were staying had an excellent internet connection. We used it for everything – for news, for communication, for entertainment and even for exercise classes.
We did have a problem in that we know or speak very little Italian, so finding out what was happening around us wasn’t simply a matter of watching the news on TV. While you can garner a lot from TV pictures, to find out what was really happening where we were, we turned to the internet – and online Italian newspapers such as PalermoToday and LaRepublica – relying on Google Chrome to translate.
The Google translations were not perfect, but good enough for us to follow the progress of the pandemic, and to learn essential info about the lockdown rules, especially valuable because small changes could make a very big difference to our freedom to move outside our apartment.
Obviously we used the internet to stay in touch with our family and friends on the other side of the world.
It still surprises me that mobile roaming fees for international telephone calls have remained extortionate, especailly when online apps such as Facetime and WhatsApp not only make international voice calls effectively free, but video calling as well. Future historians will mark the COVID-19 pandemic as the turning point for a great many social behaviours, but one that may not get a lot of attention is that this lockdown was the moment when video phone calls became universally accepted as perfectly “normal”.
On the entertainment side of things, yes, in this little Sicilian seaside town we had no problem accessing the usual streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and the ability to rent videos from Apple and Google. But until the lockdown, I confess one thing I hadn’t fully appreciated was the value of YouTube. Previously, I’d used it mostly as my go-to place for video “how-to’s ” about just about anything, plus for the occasional video on subjects of interest. But I had never thought of it as a place to find “live” TV streaming. So it was a delight to discover ABC Australia’s News 24 on YouTube, not geo-blocked and not behind any paywall.
Stranded for months, in the middle of a pandemic, in a country where I don’t speak the language, hearing Australian news and voices from a familiar source was so very good for my sanity. How good is having the ABC?
But you do have to wonder, with this pandemic and billions of people confined to their homes by COVID-19, how would the world have coped if there had been no internet?
The YouTube excerpts in this video came from: