Letter From The Veneto: Holding On To Dreams

Editor’s Note: Monica Cesarato’s enthusiasm for Venice and the Veneto is completely infectious. If you haven’t met her in person on one of her tours of Venice or cooking classes, you can now meet her on her daily on Instagram where she does live videos with friends all over the world every evening Italian time. I will be her guest on April 9th. I asked Monica to tell us about her experience at home these past few weeks. — Kathy McCabe

I am sitting at my desk, staring at my PC, listening to a local radio station, while outside the sun is shining high in the skies of the Venetian countryside, the birds are singing and Spring has sprang. A pretty normal day for a blogger and social media manager, a day like any others – but it is not.  My family and I have been in lockdown since March 8, 2020 due to the spreading of the Coronavirus in Italy.

I am a food tour guide and a cooking teacher in Venice, but I live just outside the city and my small town was one of the first to have an infected person. So we were put on a lockdown about one week before the rest of the country.

I am very lucky – we live in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by fields and only a few houses. My sons live with me, we are healthy and we have plenty of food and wine – oh yes, plenty of wine – we are Veneto people after all!

Right from the start we decided to follow to the letter the rules and instructions given by the government: once a week only one of us goes out for groceries; we take the dog out only in the fields outside; we have literally cut any social contact.  Physically – but not virtually!

From day one I made sure to reach out to those friends who live alone, having to cope with this quarantine on their own, and made some video calls – this is the time to use the phone for the reason which it was invented for: stay in touch!

It may seem a trivial thing for those who live with family, but it is oxygen sometimes for those living alone.

I then started a live feed on Instagram everyday at the same time, taking inspiration from Kathy of Dream of Italy: a simple chit chat connecting with people from all over the world, to share what life is like right now in Italy; to give information of what is really happening, but also to come up with new ideas on how to cope; to talk about the future and exchange thoughts about food – oh yes, we always talk about food! This is Italy: even in a state of emergency, we have to talk about food!

We try to stay positive all the time – we know this will eventually pass. We try to think of the future.

Talking about it right now feels a bit daunting, I know: it is all so uncertain. But being generally a very positive person, a hard-core problem solver, I rather spend my time coming up with new ideas on how to get out of this very serious situation, rather than complain or follow some crazy conspiracy theories.

I rather dream of the moment I will finally be able to set foot back in Venice, literally only six miles from my home, but feeling like 100,000 miles away right now.

I dream of the moment I will be able to go with all my friends for a tour of the bacari, the famous Venetian little osterie, drinking a lot of “ombra”, small glasses of local Veneto wines, paired with lots of “Cicchetti”, the typical snacks from Venice, which has become so famous in the last 10 years.

I dream to be able to hold again my cooking classes with my cooking partner and friend Arianna, who lives only five miles from my home, but I have not seen her since February.

I dream of walking with my friends in Venice, totally immerse in its 1000 year old history, its little alleyways called “calle” and its green canals.

Photos of the clear canals of Venice have made the news all over the world: I hope this is something we will remember in the future and what is happening now will make us change the way we travel and visit countries worldwide.

I dream of the day all the lovers of Venice will come back and the city will be alive and kicking again, not suffocated by over-tourism, but visited by travelers who will respect her and treat her as she deserves.

Am I a dreamer? Of course I am and proud to be!

For now, please stay indoors and stay safe!  — Monica Cesarato

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