Light in Darkness: Italian Humor During the Lockdown

food shortage italy empty freezer

Italy has been locked down for more than two weeks as the staggering death toll from the novel virus continues to rise. In the first days, Italians sang from their balconies in solidarity but things are much quieter now as the reality of the awful situation settles over the nation and the world. 

I don’t want to belittle the tragedy in any way. Thousands of lives have been lost and we are nowhere done with the crisis. Families are in mourning and our hearts are broken daily at the 6 pm press conference.

At the same time, I do want to highlight the small ways that people are still trying to find any brightness in this dark time; sharing the lighter moments that have emerged in the last few weeks with these dispatches of Italian humor.

Death Before Pineapple

One of the best viral videos I have seen in recent years is this one out of Naples, with locals absolutely losing it when told their pizza has pineapple on it. Though Italians seem perfectly ok with hot dogs and fries as pizza toppings, the fruit is absolutely off-limits on the beloved national dish. 

Pasta Wars

Italy has managed to get buy with very little food shortages. There may have been some limited panic buying at the beginning, but supermarkets have remained remarkably well-stocked. Italy is now two-and-a-half weeks into lockdown but the first few days saw pasta fly off the shelves. Not penne lisce, though. (This smooth tube pasta is known for being very bad at hold sauce. I honestly don’t know who buys it or why it is still made).

This clever twitter user observed that the pasta shape was the great loser in the virus because Italians won’t even eat it to save themselves from the apocalypse.

Who Needs Toilet Paper

While much of the western world struggles with rationing toilet paper, Italy has loo roll a-plenty. Even when flour, frozen pizza, and all the good pasta disappeared, we still had TP. Why? Bidets.

Furious Mayors Throw Down the Gauntlet

Italy was the first EU country to enter a national lockdown, but some citizens do not seem to have gotten the memo. While the central government in Rome grabbles with the situation, some mayors are taking things into their own hands – threatening locals with flamethrowers and jailtime. 

Livestreaming Filters

Mass has been canceled in Italy for over two weeks. This priest was simply trying to live stream to the faithful when he accidentally set his phone to use filters. Not intentional, but a light moment nevertheless. (P.S. churches are still open for individual worship if people maintain at least one-meter distance from one another, but gatherings including funerals and weddings have all been canceled).

When You Ask Italians to Stay Home

Italy was the first European country to institute a national lockdown. All Italians were told to stay home and were asked only to leave the house for essentials such as food and medicine. Since instituting the decree on March 11th, the government has been forced to amend the terms and enforce heavier and heavier fines for those who seek loopholes in the directive. In the first days, a popular way to get around the “stay at home request” was to be outside for health reasons. Suddenly, Italians took to jogging out in the open as a way to enjoy the spring weather during the quarantine.

The wording around this meme translates to “when you ask Italians to stay home” and opens with the request from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. You can see what happens next…

Getting a Coffee

One of the things that I am missing most as we settled into our new normal of home, courtyard and once-a-week food runs, is the old normalcy of our pre-lockdown lives. While some people are dreaming of the extravagant trips they will take when this is all over, the only thing I can think about doing is resuming simple daily rituals. I miss getting my coffee at the bar. I miss the clink of the cups and whirl of the steam. I miss the mundanity of it all.

So I completely understand where this guy is coming from. As he puts on his coat, the person filming demands to know where he is going. When he answers that he is going for a caffè at the bar, she angrily tells him that he can NOT. And even if he was allowed to leave, all the bars are closed.

Luckily, he has another idea.

Conte’s Girls

We have all come to love/dread the Prime Minister’s nationally televised addresses. This is usually when Giuseppe Conte announces new decrees and rules, as well as lengthens lockdown deadlines. However, this Instagram account is absolutely brilliant. Le Bimbe di Giuseppe Conte presents the PM as a total dreamboat and gives us all something to look forward to. 

This one, dedicated to “all the girls who want to be that cup,” almost made me spit out my coffee.


How are you all managing during the crisis?


4 thoughts on “Light in Darkness: Italian Humor During the Lockdown

  1. Paul Hudson says:

    I loved the article and need to try and stay more upbeat. I hate the politics in the US and Mexico right now.

    We all laughed when our cousin installed a bidet in his rental. Who’s laughing now, hahahaha.

    We are well stocked with good coffee but we both miss the experience of going to the coffee shop, seeing our friends, and ordering espresso drinks.

    Thanks for the updates. They are a window into our future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.