Above: a view of the Po River Valley from Montorfano in Franciacorta in Brescia province (to the north of the region at the foot of the Orobic Alps, also known as the Bergamasque Alps, in Lombardy). Restaurants there have been closed for more than four weeks now. They will remain shuttered at least through Easter weekend. Image via the Arcari + Danesi winery.
As of this weekend, nearly all of Italy has been designated zona rossa or red zone. Residents in Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Piedmont, Trento, Puglia, and Veneto can only leave their homes for work or emergencies; restaurants are closed for dine-in service and only a few essential businesses remain open.
The following regions have been designated zona arancione or orange zone: Abruzzo, Tuscany, Bolzano, Umbria, Calabria, Liguria, Sicily, Valle d’Aosta, and Basilicata. Residents have slightly more freedom of movement but restaurants remain closed for dine-in service.
Sardinia is the only region in Italy’s zona bianca or white zone. Residents there are restricted from any type of social gathering. But they can travel from township to another and restaurants are open.
The entire country will be designated a red zone for Easter weekend, a holiday when many Italians travel home to visit family in normal years.
According to the New York Times:
- Fewer than two million people in the country have been fully vaccinated so far, partly because of late deliveries from the pharmaceutical industries, but also because of logistical problems in some regions. Italy is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world: The coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 people there, and infected 3.2 million.
In places like Puglia in the south, the new lockdown comes as residents have been enjoying increased freedom of movement and dine-in service at lunchtime. In places like Lombardy, a region now experiencing its third surge in infections (and an epicenter of the first outbreak last year), residents have already been in red zone lockdown for four weeks.
The restaurant closures continue to strain the Italian wine trade, especially among smaller-scale growers who rely on independent restaurants for much of their sales. Those wineries also depend on tasting rooms (now closed) and wine tourism (practically non-existent) to keep their businesses solvent.
After more than a year of rolling lockdowns and restrictions, winemakers there are facing a perfect storm of financial challenges with no relief in sight. Restaurants are a key element in Italy’s social fabric: beyond the economic devastation, the psychological toll of the lockdowns is nearly impossible to overestimate.