Italian tips for beating lockdown boredom
People sing, wave and clap their hands next to an Italian flag, during a flash mob "Una canzone per l'Italia" (A song for Italy) at the Magliana district in Rome on March 15, 2020. Italy reacts with the solidarity of flash mobs circulating on social media to make people "gather" on balconies at certain hours, to play music or to get a round of applause. Italy on Sunday recorded 368 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, its highest one-day increase to date, taking the total to 1,809, the most outside China, official data showed. The number of infections has reached 24,747, a count released to the media by Italy's civil protection service said. The northern Lombardy region around Milan remained the European epicentre of the pandemic, officially reporting 1,218 deaths, or 67 percent of the Italian total.
AFP/Andreas Solaro

Italian tips for beating lockdown boredom

Ella Ide (Agence France-Presse) - March 20, 2020 - 1:42pm

ITALY — From walking fake dogs to donning skin suits, here are a few Italian ways of keeping boredom at bay during a national lockdown, something the nation of 60 million has been doing for over a week.

Walk dogs, but only live ones 

Italy is a land of dog lovers -- and with walking four-legged friends one of the easier ways to legally leave the house, even confessed cat fanciers have begun professing a predilection for puppies.

"That neighbor who had stopped speaking to you, on the suspicion that it was your innocent creature who peed on her doormat, is now all smiles, offering to dog sit," Corriere della Sera editorialist Massimo Gramellini quips.

But despite there being up to 27 million dogs in Italy according to environmental group Legambiente, there are not enough hot-blooded hounds to go around. 

Romans have been seen walking pigs.

And after satirical videos went viral showing people taking fake dogs for a walk, some Italians apparently thought it worth a try.

The mayor of the town of Mamoiada in Sardegna was forced to specify that dogs walked "have to be alive".

Gramellini, in Rome, said he "spotted a distinguished gentleman from across the street walking a stuffed animal on a leash", who even went so far as to "stoop to collect the invisible droppings".

Lycra up 

Italians may profess to love football more than their own mothers, but for decades their real sporting passion was cycling.

The iconic 1952 photograph of greats Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi passing a bottle of water between them during a particularly arduous Tour de France climb has become a symbol for Italians pulling together to become world champions.

Fast forward to today, and Italians keen on using exercise to get out of the house are donning skin suits with padded bottoms worthy of the Giro d'Italia to cycle up and down empty streets and river fronts.

"There are more people out doing exercise than if Italy was hosting the Olympics," one policeman at a road check point in the Italian capital told the Corriere della Sera.

The question is how many of the Lycra lovelies were actually out to work up a sweat, he said.

Make sausages 

Globalisation brought Italy fast food, and fast expanding waistlines. Those days of grandma getting up with the larks to make a four-course meal for the extended family appeared to be long gone.

But farmers' association Coldiretti has reported a jump in the number of people dusting off their rolling pins -- almost one household in three is now passing the time by making such comfort foods as gnocchi with spinach and parcels of sausage and cabbage.

From renowned chefs to frustrated Z-list celebrities, half of Italy appears to be posting videos of themselves sharing cherished recipes for Emilia Romagna's pork tortelli, Calabrian strawberry jam or Campania's cherry pie.

Channel your inner Michelangelo 

Italy has produced some of the world's greatest artists, from Leonardo da Vinci to Raphael and Michelangelo. Some, like Tintoretto, did their best work while all around them people died of the plague.

Their compatriots today are whiling away the hours by penning and painting, while their crayon-wielding children squabble over colouring-in books.

Some creative souls have found themselves thwarted however by supermarkets refusing to sell pens, paints or paper because it goes against government rules on selling only strictly necessary goods, like food and medicines.

That means that everything else, from plant food to underwear, is off the shopping list.

"That rule risks creating public order problems: I've seen clients get really angry because they couldn't buy a pair of pants," Conad supermarket CEO Francesco Pugliese told the Repubblica daily.

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