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Streets and hubs are all deserted

All of Italy is confronting an unexpected emergency
No visitors at Duomo di Milano, a cathedral in Milan.
No visitors at Duomo di Milano, a cathedral in Milan.
Picture by Alberto Cavicchiolo

Sanjay Mandal   |   Calcutta   |   Published 11.03.20, 09:10 PM

Alberto Cavicchiolo, 60, is a professor of business organisation and president of the Indo-Italian Milan hub. The resident of Milan was part of the Italian delegation for Bengal Global Business Summit in 2016, ’17 and ’18. He recounts his experience.

All of Italy — including Milan, one of the world’s richest and most extraordinary cities — is confronting an unexpected emergency. Today, the citizens of Milan are changing their habits and routines. It will remain a protected city for a few weeks. The streets and even the busiest hubs of the city are completely deserted as people are staying home.


Milan has been experiencing five years of very intense growth since the 2015 Expo. It has even surpassed Rome in terms of the number of business visitors and tourists, visiting the Quadrilatero della Moda (a high-end shopping district) and other luxury areas.

In the evening, Milan’s restaurants were always full and there were no vacancies at hotels. In addition, all large furniture, leather and industry trade fairs were operating at full occupancy.

Milan and Italy are also home to the second largest exhibition complex in Europe.

Now, we are avoiding public gatherings and people in supermarkets and restaurants must be at least two metres apart from one another. Lombardy (along with its capital, Milan) is working with new health and safety criteria.

Few planes are departing and landing and there is much less road traffic. The number of trains has been reduced. All public facilities in cities across the country close at 6pm.

I usually eat out with friends three or four times a week. Now, I am barely leaving home.

There are police on the streets, keeping a watch. If they see a group of people gathering or travelling in a car, they are asking them to head home.

The cops are also checking papers to ascertain whether the people on the road are out on work.

For Italy, this is an involuntary but instructive experience. Lombardy has now become one of the largest smart school experimentation regions in the western world. Half of the 1,500,000-odd students in Lombardy are experimenting with attending school online.

I have visited Calcutta many times in connection with the Indo-Italian Metal hub, which is bringing together Italian and Indian companies in the metal sector. Calcutta and Milan are similar in many ways, in the fields of education, art and culture. I hope to be there again once the crisis is over.

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