We all look forward to getting back to normal. Normal for me will be when I know guests are on their way to the villa and that Daniela is there, waiting to welcome them.

Paul and I have been touched by all the calls and notes inquiring about our friends in Italy. Many who ask have been to our villa, Rocca di Benano, and know the people they are asking about; others just know of our deep affection for our friends there and know how worried we are for them.

Short answer: everyone we know and hold dear seems to be doing fine. One friend admitted that the strict quarantine, which went into effect there on March 9, “is not easy. We can leave the house only to buy food or medicines, but we need to behave ourselves now to stop the disease as soon as possible, so we try to resist stoically!”

Daniela is the best friend a guest beginning a vacation at an Italian villa could have. By its very nature, there’s no front desk clerk or concierge at the villa. But Rocca di Benano has something even better: we have Daniela!

Daniela greets our guests, shows them around the house, helps them settle in and answers questions, then—and here’s the magic—gives them her phone number and offers her help. She is our guests’ safety net and is always on call in case they need anything during their stays.

Benano, the village where our villa is, sits couple of hours away from the Rome airport. By the time our guests pull into Benano, they’re ready to see a smile and meet a friendly, capable, English-speaking Italian who knows exactly who they are and what they need.

Daniela grew up in Orvieto, where her parents still live. She went away to Perugia to study languages, and returned to live near her hometown. Daniela and her husband live in a small town about 20 minutes away from Orvieto. They have two very active children: a 6-year old son and a 2-year old daughter.

I asked Daniela to tell me what her life is like these days. Here’s her answer (with a few of my clarifying comments in italics):

Hi Karen!

I try to describe this situation of lockdown (we call it “Quarantena”).

We avoid to exit from our house. We exit only to go to the supermarket or to the drugstore and we are trying to reduce the times we go there. For example I go to the supermarket only twice in a week instead everyday, using every kind of food and beverage we already had in the house and in the freezer!

I don’t miss a lot of things, but it’s difficult for me to see my children (remember, they are 6 and 2) suffering stay at home and avoid to meet their friends. At the end we are lucky because there is a small garden out of our palace (in Italian, an apartment or condo building is called a palazzo, so that’s what she means by “palace”), so they can play there or at least get some fresh air. Someone not even have a terrace!

The only pleasant surprise is to stay at home all together, the whole day. It’s a new thing for us, but it’s very difficult, too…..the day has became very, very long!!!! (You remember that her bambini are 6 and 2, right?)

I miss my parents and all my friends. I’m sorry that my parents can’t meet my children.

I don’t know if there will be something changed permanently…. I hope that all this situation will help us to revalue and appreciate the relations between the persons and the simple things, like the Nature, the Friendship, the job, the FREEDOM!

Stay safe, amica!

And keep following Nonna’s good advice: