The Long Road Ahead

Photo by Luke Stackpoole

As Italy begins its second year in lockdown, spirits are flagging. We no longer sing arias to one another across balconies in the piazza. There are no Italian jets flying over head that cause us to lift our heads and stare in wonder as the tri-colors of the Italian flag spread across the deep blue sky. As Shakespeare so succinctly put it, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” On the streets, we greet one another with sighs and shrugs. …

I am a dual-citizen, American by birth, Italian by choice. On January 6, 2021, I was riveted to CNN news and with the rest of the world, sat horrified as rioters broke into the Capitol and rampaged through the American seat of democracy. American friends asked me, are you watching this? What is the reaction in Italy?

To answer these questions, I interviewed 9 Italians and 3 English residents here in Italy. The following is a composite of their views to my questions.

What is your reaction to the storming of the American Capitol Building?

It was shocking and disturbing…

Photo by Sinitta Leunen

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913 to French parents. A noted journalist, philosopher, and playwright, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, when he was only 44 years old. He was awarded the prize: “for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times” according to the Nobel Committee for Literature.

At the beginning of World War II, Camus joined the French resistance to fight against the German occupation. Throughout the war, he edited and contributed to the underground newspaper Combat. Using his writings as a platform…

A Trip to the Sea in time of COVID19

Marina di Grosetto Photo by Susan Pohl

Throughout some of the more difficult times of lock down, I would calm myself by closing my eyes and envisioning the sea. I could imagine the salty brine of the Mediterranean Sea wash over me and watch as it crept into the darker edges of my mind and wash away the grimy sediment of fear. I imagined the smell of the salt and the sensation of the cool water on my skin. Although it was a great visualization, I wanted the real thing. I wanted to go to the seaside.


Photo by Max Bender

We sat sipping our drinks and watched as the sun cast a shadow across the piazza. We were happy to be together, finally, after several months of lockdown. Our conversation turned, as it usually does these days, to the chaos that embroiled our former country, the US.

Sitting in a small town in Italy, we asked ourselves how could we join in the protests against the blatant racism in the US?

The six of us had arrived in Umbria, more or less at the same time, seven years ago. We have tried to assimilate into Italian culture as much as…

Lake Como: Photo by Susan Pohl

A Poem of Regret

In the beginning, there were emails

OMG. What’s happening in Italy? (We were struck early and hard by the COVID19 virus.)

Avoid the fate of Italy.

Are you safe there? (Yes. I live in Umbria.)

Avoid the fate of Italy.

Why is there such a high percentage of people dying? (Combination of an aging population, and the way the statistics were done.)

Avoid the fate of Italy.

Does your town have enough cemetery space to bury all of the dead? (Yes)

Avoid the fate of Italy.

Has the Italian health care system collapsed? (No)

Avoid the…

From the Green Heart of Umbria, May 21, 2020

Marco selling Adriatic Street Food. Photo by Susan Pohl

Life in my small town is slowly returning to its former self. One of the ways that I mark the days of the week is by the Wednesday farmer’s market coming to Umbertide. The market had been closed for over 2 months. Last week was the first week it arrived in Umbertide and it was a bit skimpy. Fewer stalls and fewer produce. This week it had expanded a little and the atmosphere, even in the rain, was more festive.

Marco and his Adriatic Street Food van returned this week. We…

Inside the Italian pandemic

Angel with broken wing: This and all other photos by Susan Pohl

Tomorrow is a mini-liberation day in Italy. After more than two months of lockdown, we are about to savor new freedoms. Stores, restaurants, and bars will all be open, with strict social distancing imposed, but they will be open. We will see old friends once again. We will pass each other, smile behind our masks, and nod in recognition. It is not yet time to tell our stories to one another, but it is time to recognize that we are all still here and celebrate our sense of solidarity in getting through this difficult time.


A little bit of sunshine a little bit of fear

Tiber River: Photo by Susan Pohl

On May 18th many of the restrictions we have been living under here in Italy will be lifted. Bars will be open, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, barbers, and the oh so important beaches. This was not supposed to happen until June first.

The regional governments, of which there are 20, demanded that Rome officially allow them to open the businesses when the current decree expires on May 17th. If Rome did not agree, 10 those unruly regions, threatened to revolt, I’m looking at you Umbria, and they would open…

Umbertide: All photos by Susan Pohl

Italy touches my heart. As we all become weary of this lockdown, new rainbows, drawn by children, appear in my town telling us “All will be well.” And it is true. Like many in Umbria, I am alive. I am in good health. I am well. Living in this less touristed region of Italy, we have been spared the worst effects of this terrible virus. We have had zero new cases for several days now. We are hoping that we have broken the back of the contagion.

This lock down has forced me to slow down. My breath and activities…

Susan Darin Pohl

I am a writer, executive coach, and dual citizen, living in Umbria, and Florence, Italy.

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