Italian Diary: Flattened by the Curve


After more than a full month of lockdown, it seems that Italy is finally flattening the curve. The numbers of new cases and new deaths are slowing down every day. We are not out of the woods yet, by any means, as the cases are still nowhere close to zero. The government will likely soon announce a continuation of the lockdown at least to the end of April. 

In our village in east-central Italy people are respecting the rules even more, given what happened last week.

The much-revered village pharmacist, who had been sent to the hospital after testing positive, died. In our few years here, we got to know him and his family well. Patrizio was a kind and generous man who often stood outside his shop when it wasn’t busy and chatted people up. He was an unofficial town patriarch.

Patrizio once pulled me aside and excitedly showed me photos of the holiday he and his wife had taken in the Dolomite Mountains. We interacted with many people in his extended family, as they run businesses in the area. So his death hit us hard. We passed by his shop every day, as it’s little more than 100 feet from our front door. I can still see him in his long white coat and with his flamboyant mustache, smiling broadly, and waving to passersby. 

My wife now has so many requests for making masks she can barely keep up. Requests have come in from neighboring towns as well as from friends of friends in Rome. I watch the bar charts of infection online, ones that get revised each evening. Spain recently jumped over Italy for infections. France is not far behind. We see the steep curve still present in the U.S.

It’s like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion.

Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw
Mark Hinshaw is a retired architect and city planner who lived in Seattle for more than 40 years. For 12 years he had a regular column on architecture for The Seattle Times and later was a frequent contributor to Crosscut. He now lives in a small hill town in Italy.


  1. We’re appreciating these perspectives from Italy and hoping all of Europe’s curve starts to flatten soon. Thanks to Mark for these up close and personal reports.


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