This period of quarantine is also an opportunity to reflect on Rome, a city whose beauty and magic are sometimes taken for granted by its residents.
The news is all over the world. Italy is in total shutdown
. The move is drastic but the right thing to do.
For those who travel regularly to Rome for holidays and are watching the scene unfold from afar, there is a sense of shock and sadness to see their beloved city shut down, its streets virtually deserted.
For those of us living here, Italians and foreign residents, it is surreal. We have become prisoners of the world's most beautiful city, proud to serve our time for the health and greater good of the country. Italy has set down a brave and grown-up example that other countries could learn from.
All of this happened very fast. Over the last few weeks Rome has watched with growing concern the emergency situation
in the north of Italy. The warning signs started to register in the capital towards the end of February with the mass cancellation of tour groups, crucial to Rome's economy.
Otherwise life went on as normal for those not working in the tourism and hospitality sectors which have been decimated
. The cancelled tours and hotel bookings were soon matched by the cancellation of major events, the closure of schools, the suspension of flights. Then of course we had the nationwide lockdown
on 10 March, followed by the even more drastic measures announced last night.
And now? Now we wait. We stay at home until 25 March, at the earliest. But while we may grumble about being cooped up, particularly when the weather is so pleasant, spare a thought for those who lie sick, very sick, in intensive care. Above all spare a thought for the doctors
and nurses - Italy's heroes - working tirelessly around the clock.
When life eventually returns to normal, and we pray it will be soon, let us also make a vow to never take Rome for granted. The next time you casually meet up with friends under the statue of Giordano Bruno
, be aware of why his memorial is there. Look up from your phone as you rattle past the Colosseum on a tram. Pop into the Pantheon
instead of rushing past it.
Embrace the simple joy of seeing spring blossoms in the Botanic Gardens
, of walking across a bridge full of angels, eating a bowl of carbonara in the sunshine, or taking a stroll through the Orange Garden at sunset.
Let us visit all the museums that we pass on our daily commute and truly appreciate the tremendous history and culture on our doorstep.
Climb the cupola
, visit the Domus Aurea, stop and smell the roses on the Aventino.
In the meantime we will stay at home and dream of the day that we can return to see with new eyes the city we all love so dearly. Roma. Caput Mundi. The Eternal City.