Lockdown in Como: how the coronavirus changed life and work

We asked people from Lake Como to tell us what it’s like to be in a real quarantine.

Antonella Corengia, Art Director & Editorial Graphics, La Provincia

Antonella CorengiaThe first change during these days – I get up much later and have breakfast slower. I help my daughter in doing homework online, and then we play cards. I downloaded Netflix, and now I watch movies and TV series.
I work for the daily newspaper “La Provincia”, so I go to the office regularly because information never stops. I deal with the infographics aspect which must be continuously updated, and I coordinate tasks with my colleagues who mainly work from home. Obviously, I respect the necessary precautions indicated by the Ministry of Health (gloves and mask).
In the morning before breakfast, I do a series of abs. I’m lucky to have both the treadmill and an exercise bicycle in my garage, so I alternate with them. I keep the garden in order: simple jobs like removing weeds, but luckily in the open air.
The biggest challenges? The first one is loneliness: I love being around people. At this moment, I miss socializing, and mainly I miss human relationships. Secondly, I miss doing outdoor sports: long bike riding and admiring the lake or just running along it.

Paola Lovisetti-Scamihorn, Food writer, Italian life coach

Paola LovisettiComo is a ghost city right now. Work and family life are primarily at home, but people are united in sharing this sacrifice. Being at home, I read and communicate with friends and relatives by video or phone – a thing that I rarely used to do since we would often meet in town. Cooking is one of my passions, so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my kids, experimenting with new recipes, and preparing deliciously healthy meals. In this physiologically difficult time, we need healthy comfort food to lift up our spirits and boost our immune system. Trips to the grocery store or pharmacy are rare excursions now.
I am a food writer, therefore my work is mainly based on writing from home, so this has changed little for me. I have just completed my new book: “Honestly Healthy: Salads and Smoothies for everyday meals”. The worst part is that I cannot give cooking classes. I miss the personal contact with my guests.
I used to train at the gym almost every day, and now I try to do my best at home. Fortunately, I have some weights, elastic bands, and simple equipment at home. I downloaded some workout programs and exercise every day. It’s not the same as going to the gym, but it is important to have some daily physical activity: “Mens sana in corpore sano”. Being physically active is an essential ingredient for a healthy body and soul.
I use this time to reflect on myself and about what is really important in life. By slowing down, we can appreciate things that previously we did not even notice in the daily rush; we can channel emotions into actions that will improve success in the future.

Yasemin Baysal, Managing Partner, ENGEL & VÖLKERS, Lago di Como

Yasemin Baysal I start my day doing some exercises and workout for body and soul. Then, I have a good breakfast with my kids. Smart homework with my kids, cook, and clean.

I am a “smart worker”. I contact my team every day, my clients and my assistant. I try to send offers to my clients and be in contact with them as much as possible. I use technology and social media. I’m attending some webinars during these days. For sport, I run on my treadmill, I do yoga, and I stretch.

The biggest challenge is not to have the possibility to see my loved ones, my family in Germany who were planning to come for Easter. The feeling of being locked in is a kind of claustrophobic feeling. But I enjoy my kids a lot and appreciate many things these days, which normally I might have taken for granted.

Umberto Butti, General Manager, Grand Hotel Imperiale Resort & SPA

Umberto Butti I spend my time working at home or in the office. At home I have a chance of doing bricolage projects and painting. I spend a lot of time reading and cooking! I work half from home and a half from the office. Almost everyone in our company is working from home, and employees can’t come to work because it’s too risky. I go to the hotel, and I do all the work that requires access to physical documents.

We need a lot of energy to face this difficult period. So, we removed the dust from Nintendo WII, and we started competitions in my family.

Staying closed at home is not easy. We need to do this for our safety and for everybody, but it’s stressful. I know that it is not going to be short, but I also know that we will be free again.


The answers to most-asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak in Lake Como

Elena Markova, Founder of digital agency and COMO LAKE Today magazine, President of Como International Club

Elena Markova I have been smart working and collaborating with teams in different countries already for many years, so it’s nothing new for me to work remotely. Now it’s different of course: no meetings with clients and contractors, no company visits, just Skype calls and emails.
I use this time for personal development. I started a few new courses on Coursera, which I like very much and I never had enough time for attending them. I finally read the long analytical articles on BOF that have been waiting in the bookmarks for a long time. I reorder everything: emails, pictures, files, wardrobe, shoes, books and thoughts. It’s a perfect time to zeroize. I also prepare for future projects, get things done in advance, and just store them for the right moment that will, for sure, arrive.
I work with pleasure in the garden and do some workouts following video tutorials.
These days I watch some bloggers for culinary inspirations and try to cook new and healthy dishes. I miss traveling a lot and dream where I would go now. I am very sorry that all the activities at the Como International Club have been suspended. We had big plans for the spring! The hardest part is seeing the drama that this virus brings to the life of many people, businesses, and countries.

Pierpaolo Perretta (Mr.Savethewall), Artist

Pierpaolo Perretta I think that there are also good things in this difficult time. For example, in quarantine, there is time for a person who never had time before and wanted to have 48 hours per day.
I divided my day into several moments. I have 5 hard drives with files from the past 10 years to reorder. I have artistic projects stopped due to lack of time, which I can complete now. I study, I read, I inform myself about new things, I have video calls with loved ones, I work and above all I think, I think a lot.
My work is mainly made up of sensitivity, thought, reflection, introspective investigation and research. The executive part is perhaps only the final act.
So, here too, I have an advantage. In addition, my projects are mainly made of drawing, graphics, cropping, and these are all things that I can also do at home.
Now I am taking the opportunity to dedicate myself to sculpture. I have a fairly large house, and each member of the family has found a personal place to study and work. I feel comfortable at home. We try to move forward, without being discouraged, confident that everything will become better, maybe even better than before. Then there is Instagram… thanks to it I am in contact with many more art lovers than before.
My family and I spend an hour a day of our time doing physical exercises at home. We strongly respect the rules of not going out, but we cannot give up our physical well-being.
Every day is a challenging day in quarantine.
However, I have a strong personality, I have culture and knowledge, I suppose to be a leader, I have internet, wi-fi connection, books, television and work. The most challenging moment for me is when I read the news, when I think of my parents who are getting old at a distance, my daughters who live an important part of their life, teenage years, locked in the house who knows for how long… When I think of the families who have mourning, illness… and the thing that is most difficult for me to accept is the ignorance of those who have not yet understood the basic rules to avoid spreading the infection. The worst thing is to realize that I can’t do anything to help this situation. Being helpless is the toughest thing.

Tenaya Neuman, English teacher and Cambridge examiner

Tenaya NeumanThese weeks of isolation have been a real challenge. At first, I was upset about the schools closing and needing to home-school my kids as their schools never set up online lessons. This was the least of my problems. Now we have been totally confined to our homes for weeks and I strictly follow these laws and never go out except to the supermarket. I would now welcome home-schooling as long as I could do it in the open air. That has been the worst part for my family and me. We are lucky because we are together. I live with my mom and two kids and so I am not worried about them as they are right under my roof, but we are a very active family and because we don’t have a garden, we have been suffering staying locked inside. Sadly, we have had more family rows as stress levels are up and no one gets any personal time or space. My kids have been very creative and set up a homemade basketball hoop in my building’s parking lot and we sit and eat meals on our very small balcony just to breathe some fresh air. My mom has been wonderful, cooking healthy dishes and sometimes my kids help too with baking healthy muffins and cakes. I try to take heart in the small joys of life. My best friend back home in California gave birth yesterday to a baby boy and so in all of this death there is also birth and joy. When I feel down, I think of my many friends who are doctors and nurses and know that I am lucky to be healthy and not working in hospitals. I send them messages thanking them for their sacrifice and hard work during this difficult time.

I’m a teacher and so I have still been working teaching my students online. I have been forced to become more technological. Classroom management is easier teaching online 😉 Being able to work from home is an advantage because I still get paid but it is a disadvantage because I teach for many hours during the day and while my kids are at home and not doing online lessons it has been very hard to think of creative ways to keep them busy and quiet.

During the mornings we have longer cuddles in bed reading stories. At night we do puzzles and even play word games with friends through video calls. I do my cross fit workout every day to very loud and upbeat music to stay fit and lift my spirits.
I miss the social interaction the most as well as running around the lake. I hope this will all pass and dream of hiking with friends and sharing a much-deserved prosecco in a sunny field together.

Irma Kennaway, Designer, Artist & Illustrator

Irma Kennaway I wake up at around 5.30 am listening to the first bird and then the full dawn chorus which here in Brunate beats any concert I have been to! I give thanks for 10 things which aren’t materialistic like my senses, sight, touch etc, anything to start off positive!
With the luxury of time without distractions when it’s ok to take time to look after myself I’m fighting a bit with my hair and wondering how my first home hair tint will work out!
This is the moment to deeply appreciate being alive, there is time, no pressure to go anywhere at a certain time, only that internal clock that says it’s time to eat! I try to put extra love into preparing meals using a rainbow of fruit and vegetables bringing colour into our day.
I work on inspiration. This can be going through those 12,000 photos on my phone, groan! Or drawing from life which is the best! My favourite subject actually is fresh flowers for a new painting, textile or card. Recently however I work on my iPad, drawing a daily sketch to help me stay positive and to reach out to others to say “we all in this together”. This work started as sketches in black and white on Instagram and Facebook but now I’m using colour which vibrates and might touch people more! (@Irma Kennaway). Thankfully my husband has a computer so I can get on with renewing my website as just as lockdown started my laptop decided it would also shutdown, very thoughtful indeed! I’m pretty dependent on it and who knows when I can get it repaired? So, I use a LaCie with all the work that needs uploading.
My two black kittens keep me company as I do my yoga stretches and they loll next to me as I do kms on my normal road bike, which is now stationary, fixed with stabilisers bought on the internet. I scroll through my phone connecting to others as much as I can, as I pedal away!
If you can call singing exercise, I sing my heart out as I rehearse Aida. I’m a contralto in Como’s Coro200, a choir created in 2013 for locals to celebrate 200 years of Como’s theatre, Teatro Sociale, built in 1813. I recommend you listen to the words of Aida as it’s all about Guerra – War and this is what this is, a war against an invisible enemy, but there is hope, “Ritorna vincitor!” – “Come back victorious!”
The most challenging aspect of lockdown is being physically out of reach with friends and family. There is nothing like receiving those warm Italian hugs and kisses! My family is scattered around in the UK. Despite the initial herd immunisation theory of letting people get the virus in masses they are now doing a semi shutdown. I pray they will be fine.
As the lungs of our planet begin to breathe in this breathing space from industry and transport pollution, I hope all those afflicted with breathing difficulties from the virus will be able to breathe normally again. We will come out of this stronger! This is bringing us all together, we are not alone!
Books that are helping me: Making Space, creating a home meditation practice by Thich Nhat Hanh, Mindfulness, a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.

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