It all began in the 17th century in Venice with the term quaranta giorni (forty days).

Currently, we’re inundated with the coronavirus news and the word quarantine, especially as the world scrambles to contain a virus they don’t quite understand. Now that Italy has become one of the hot spots outside of China, many travelers returning home to other EU countries from Northern Italy are being placed in quarantine. Lombardy has been the area hit the hardest, but Veneto is seeing its own share of cases. Yours truly is a resident of Veneto, and just two days ago the city center of Treviso was markedly subdued; less traffic, fewer pedestrians, more closed businesses. Theaters, street markets, and schools are closed until further notice.

As the coronavirus hits Italy, ItalyWise explores the origin of the word quarantine.

So, I guess you can see we’re already moving into a form of self-quarantine in order to stem the spread of this virus while doctors and researchers race to understand it better and develop effective (hopefully) treatments. Only time will tell if this situation is reasonably contained or if it spreads more widely to the rest of the country.

Veneto residents are more than familiar with how the word quarantine came into being.

The Black Death, also called The Black Plague, wiped out a solid 30% of Europe’s population. Venice was particularly hard hit, and in an attempt to protect itself, the city made incoming ships anchor offshore for forty days or quaranta giorni. This was to prevent even more of the disease from being brought into the city by passengers and boat crews.

Read more about the history of the word on Wikipedia.

Will Veneto residents find ourselves in a modern-day quarantine?

As of yet, strict quarantine measures are limited to a handful of towns in Lombardy. Trains are not allowed to make stops in these towns and residents are not allowed to leave. Perimeters are monitored. People have limited movement within their communities in order to stock up on provisions while they wait this out and hopefully protect themselves.

But I’m fully aware we could see this happening in Veneto, especially since Venice is a city crowded with tourists. And, this all started hitting as Carnevale was hitting the home stretch. Hopefully, we’ll find out that the contagion was limited in spite of conditions ripe for its spread.

Hunkered down in Umbria.

I’m currently here in “The Green Heart of Italy” for a previously scheduled trip to prune an out-of-control wisteria plant and other shrubs. When it’s in full bloom it’s glorious, but its starting to strangle the pergola and slip its aggressive fingers through the wooden shutters. February to mid-March is my best chance to rein it in!

No, I haven’t put myself in quarantine, and I have a train back to Treviso in just a few days. I’ll be watching the news closely to see if my return is in any way affected. I can’t imagine that it would be in such a short period of time, but then again, we’re in uncharted waters with the coronavirus. Hopefully, we’ll not see the likes of quarantines lasting quaranta giorni!