From Washington Post Rome bureau chief Chico Harlan, passed along by Tanya Sichynsky: “When a thoughtful neighbor visited earlier this week, Harlan couldn’t help but notice that he was standing quite close. As the man talked animatedly in his kitchen, Harlan, a touch paranoid, wondered if the neighbor’s voice sounded raspy.
“’This is the thing it does to you. It turns you into an asshole,’ Harlan said of the coronavirus pandemic. ‘When you start to become afraid of your own neighbors who are wonderful people, then there’s really no hope.’
“It’s the sense of safety, that ability to even briefly let his guard down, that the correspondent misses most. The outbreak has shut down Italy and killed 4,032 people there, the highest death toll of any country.
“With routines totally upended, daily life is bizarre. Apart from the handful of Italians waiting two meters apart for groceries, everyone stays inside. Harlan occasionally takes a solo jog in the mornings, an activity that may be restricted by the government at any moment. He lives across the street from a popular wine bar that, on a normal day, is brimming with stylish Italians who keep the neighborhood up into the early hours of the morning. It was the bane of Harlan and his wife’s existence. Now?
“’I’d kill for that noise, the clatter of people having a good time,’ he said.”