Stillness in time

Harper's Bazaar Australia|June/July 2020

Stillness in time
Acclaimed Australian fashion designer Collette Dinnigan’s new life in Italy has been a slowing down of sorts — but now, with coronavirus containment measures in play, life inside the walls of her 500-year-old farmhouse in Puglia has taken on a different cast, she writes
Collette Dinnigan

When news of Italy’s nationwide lockdown first circulated, my husband, Bradley, and son, Hunter, and I were with friends in Puglia after the schools had closed. [Dinnigan’s 15-year-old daughter, Estella, is at boarding school in Australia.] Hunter had been at ski week and had only been back at school a few days when I heard that coronavirus was hitting Italy hard, and I said to Bradley, “I bet they’ll close the schools.” As soon as they did, I wanted all of us to sit it out in our farmhouse, Casa Olivetta, in Puglia. We jumped in the car (I was such a nervous Nellie, I didn’t want to be on a plane) and we drove there immediately. It was the 28th of February.

We only prepared ourselves to be here for a week, so didn’t really pack anything — just wine and food — but we have been here ever since. There’s no chaos here at all. In fact, the mood is extremely quiet and sombre. The regulations are very strict. You always have to have your paperwork on you and you can’t leave your local area. If you do, you run the risk of huge fines. Supermarkets are open limited hours and there are guards out the front. Only a few people are allowed in at a time and you need to hand-sanitize and wear gloves and a mask.

Here in the countryside, everyone keeps their distance. We used to look out for our neighbours and chat, but now you don’t see a soul. You’re not really allowed to go for walks and there are no shops open apart from chemists and supermarkets. Not even a coffee shop. Petrol stations are self-service, though I’m not sure why they are still operating: you’re not really permitted to drive anywhere, anyway. Even our local hospital is closed.

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June/July 2020