Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 9, 2020

Italy now

Right now, in Italy, I am sitting in my house on the side of a mountain, in a cloud.

The view from my terrace.

It changes constantly.

The rain means no gardening for the day. I am hopeful for tomorrow.

As in most of the rest of the world, the Corona virus is causing chaos all around me. Our area is unaffected right now, but that could change at any time. I’m pleased I went to Florence last week. I might be grounded for a while.

As the Italian government announced the area around Milan in Lombardy would be in lock down, thousands of people ‘scappata’, escaped, or fled…great word.

They ran for trains, causing chaos at Milan Central Station. They jumped in their cars and headed south. Many came down to the Versilia Coast and the nearby ski fields of Abetone. The slopes were crowded. So much for staying one metre apart.

This caused a ‘coda’, another delightful Italian word which means tail, or, in this case, a traffic jam lasting hours at the autostrada pay station in Pisa.

The upside is that the coastal towns had a boom weekend. The downside is that Tuscany, Lucca province, including the Garfagnana, where our house is, are now coming close to being locked down. If the escaping people have helped to spread the virus it may happen.

I am happily sitting in my mountain house. I have minimal contact with anyone. I went down the mountain briefly today to get supplies and now I will stay at home and hope it all calms down soon.

It is no trial to be at our lovely mountain house. Here is the evening sky a couple of nights ago.

If the sun comes out tomorrow I will have a happy day in the garden. Filippo has pruned most of the lavender and the enormous fig tree in front of the house. The lavender that was struggling under the chestnut trees has been replaced with hydrangeas and we have planted a few new things…life goes on.



  1. Debra, you’re in a beautiful place at Casa Debbio, and you have a great perspective. It may take a while, but better days are ahead.

    • I am very lucky to be in a secluded place…especially one as lovely as this. This will pass and we will get back to normal soon.

  2. So beautiful. Life does go on.

    • I am lucky to be in such a lovely place.

  3. Beautiful photo of the evening sky Deb!
    Yes hopefully things will calm down soon..
    You are in a beautiful part of the world…enjoy!!

    • It is beautiful! Spring will begin soon. My weeping cherries are about to flower and some of my peonies already have buds…can’t wait.

  4. wow, so beautiful there as always. Stay safe, stay healthy

    • Thank you! All good here at Casa Debbio.

  5. Couldn’t think of a nicer place to be isolated in. Enjoy being away from the craziness 😊

    • I will be fine up here. I wonder how long the shutdown will last.

  6. I was thinking of you when I saw the news. I have been house sitting and now on my way back to Lamb Island. May just sit tight for a while.

    • It didn’t really come as a surprise that all of Italy is in lockdown after the response from the people from Lombardia.
      I am happy to sit it out on the mountain.

  7. Stay safe and stay at home. As you say, with a stunning view like that, there shouldn’t be any difficulty. So sad to read about the scappati in the news, almost guaranteeing a further spread of the virus. Also have just read that the lockdown has now been extended to the whole country.

    • I was expecting the extension of the lockdown. I am happy to sit up here on the mountain for a while.

  8. Debra, thanks god you have a wonderful surrounding to sit out the consequences of this Virus. Hopefully you have gathered enough food and supplies for the coming weeks. And me , I would think to have enough books to read….. maybe you are the same? Be safe and positive . Best wishes from Cornelia

  9. I do hope you manage to stay virus free in your lovely part of Italy. Can’t think of a better place to be locked in than Casa Debbio!! Fresh air and gentle outdoor jobs. Lucky you my dear friend!! Jxx

    • I hope so too. I think I am safe up here…we shall see.

  10. Such a beautiful place to be a recluse. Stay well Deb.

    • A great place to be right now.

  11. Such bad timing for us! I would have loved to be marooned in Vergemolli and spent our ‘lockdown’ gardening there – with no need to scarper.

    • It is very bad timing. I’m not sure that you would be allowed in right now.

  12. So glad you are safe and sound at your beautiful home.

    • It is the best place to be right now.

  13. What a lovely haven your Vergemoli home is! Those clouds spread their magic over the mountains. Continue to enjoy the solitude ‘far from the madding crowd.’

    • It is a great place to be right now.

  14. Debra, you are in a marvelous place to spend the quarantine. It would have been better not to have to go through this, but…,
    Let’s hope for a vaccine!

    • I am happy to be here. It looks like we will have a sunny day today, so I can be outside.

  15. Hi Debra,
    We’re here in Lucca in lockdown and although yesterday we understood we could walk along the walls and ride our bici so long as we stayed in the municipality, today our understanding is that we can only go out for work (which does not apply to us), grocery shopping, (which will certainly be a highlight!) and health reasons (🤞we don’t qualify).
    So, we are happily settled into our apartment, with games and books and NETFLIX. We are looking forward to the next season of the Crown…what’s on your watch list?!

    • I went down to Bagni di Lucca this morning. I expected to be stopped but I was not. I bought the flowers for the bridge on Monday, before the lock down, and could not plant them because it was raining. I was worried they would die shut up in my apartment so I wanted to get that done today. I felt like a criminal gardening on the bridge!
      I was stopped on the way home and got into trouble because I did not have the official form. I have no printer at home. I talked my way out of it, but I will have to track down a form.
      I am currently addicted to Grace and Frankie, although Frankie is starting to annoy me! I have watched The Crown and will soon be looking for something new.

  16. I ‘d love to be sequestered in Lucca. We’ve spent many weeks there. For a New Yorker, it is a home away from home. Such a lovely town and we always felt right at home as soon as we arrived. Hope this all ends for us soon but until then New York/Connecticut will have to do. We are all ready with some good books and Netflix and of course, making some good dinners. Ciao

    • I would be happy to be stuck in Lucca as long as I was allowed to be out and about, but that is not the case.

  17. hi Debra: I wanted to check in on your to make sure all is well. I’m glad you wrote this post. Yes, if you have a place to be stuck where you are is pretty nice. We are supposed to go on a cruise this summer from Italy but cruises are canceling as I type. Anyways please take care and keep updating us.

    • I feel very lucky to be up here on the mountain right now. The best part is watching my beautiful garden grow.

      • Yes you are Debra! Keep sending us posts. Keep us inspired! My kids are now home indefinitely for online school and nothing is blooming here! 🙂 Need to see some beauty!

  18. Hello debra dont worry about virus take care of yourself and enjoy the beautiful nature around u..Take 1 spoon honey daily in morning as antivirus..dr vaishali raut

    • I can do the honey thing! I am well set up here to stay for weeks without going down the mountain.

  19. Reading your post makes me feel relieved! Hope you’re doing well and staying safe!! Best wishes!

  20. Are the restaurants locally open again ? Have many of our favourites gone out of business ? Il Cavallino Bianco for example ? Our house was at Granaiola . Thank you in anticipation.

    Giannina .

    • Restaurants have been open since May. I don’t know of any local businesses closing because of Covid…yet.

  21. […] I started writing posts about the situation in Italy on March 9th from Casa Debbio, just before our area was sent into lockdown. At that stage I was still hopeful, like everyone else, that the virus would not spread from northern Italy.Italy now […]

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