Antonia Williams-Annunziata

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Police at a roadblock to enforce the coronavirus emergency lockdown in Rome on March 28. (Fabio Frustaci/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

In a WhatsApp audio recording, a hoarse voice in a Sicilian accent said: “Cover up — and if we have to respond [to the police], we will smash [them] to smithereens. … They’ll beg for mercy.”

Another replied: “If they send 10 anti-riot police trucks, do you really think they could stop us? Aren’t we all armed with batons and clubs against them?”

The conversation between unnamed small-time Mafia members was shared with reporters by undercover police the last weekend in March in Palermo, Sicily’s capital. The same weekend, marauders raided supermarkets in Palermo and Naples. Police have since been sent as security guards at numerous establishments in both cities.…  Seguir leyendo »

The nearly deserted Piazza di Spagna in central Rome on Thursday, as Italy shut all stores except for pharmacies and food shops in a desperate bid to halt the spread of a coronavirus. (Alberto Pizzoli/Afp Via Getty Images)

Last Saturday night, I watched in surprise and horror as the television broadcast images of hundreds of people storming Milan’s central train station, desperate to catch a train out of the city after rumors circulated of the coming of a quarantine over coronavirus concerns in Italy’s north. Hours later, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a partial closure of the region, centered on Milan.

Then, the next day, the restrictions arrived at my doorstep, as Conte decreed limits on travel nationwide.

A thought crossed my mind: Is it time to panic? And soon, will this become a reality not just here but everywhere?…  Seguir leyendo »