UW Rome Center

July 20, 2020

A (very different) summer in Rome

Needless to say, life as we knew it has transformed in the last four months since I last provided you with an update on the situation in Italy and at the UW Rome Center as it relates to COVID-19 and the subsequent global pandemic. Back then, the situation was grave in Italy, and, if you’ll permit me to say, ironically grave in Seattle as well. Since then, what an incredible shift we’ve all experienced in the trajectory of our personal and professional lives on all levels. Undoubtedly, we’ve all been impacted greatly by this global pandemic. And now we are all working to make sense of what has transpired and what changes are now required in our daily practices to keep us all healthy and safe.

Here in Italy, we spent three months under strict lockdown until June 4th, when we were finally allowed to leave our homes without restrictions to travel to other neighborhoods, to go to parks, etc. Two weeks later on May 18th, restaurants, cafes, museums and archeological sites (e.g., the Colosseum) were allowed to reopen under significant physical distancing requirements. A week later, gyms, pools, and other businesses resembling “normal” life were allowed to reopen. The progress was slow, but significant.

As a nation, we are still emerging from the crisis. While Italy was the first European country to be hit hard to by the pandemic, the national response was mindful and observant. We stayed at home, we wore masks and gloves and observed physical distancing when necessity (literally, for groceries or prescriptions only) compelled us to leave home. When lockdown ended and some businesses were allowed to reopen, we slowly ventured out and began to reconstruct our social norms under new limitations on how and when and for how long we could interact and function as a society. These are not easy questions to navigate under continued questions on spread and control of the virus.

At the UW Rome Center, things are quiet but progressing. Our academic programs have been cancelled through the end of the 2020, but we are hopeful that we’ll be welcoming in our Winter 2021 programs through our newly-renovated first floor doors in early January. The first floor is due to be completed mid-September, after which we’ll be moving the office up to the fourth floor and packing up the third floor for renovations to begin there starting in late September. Back on the first floor, we’ve have a new Exhibit Space featuring the amazing frescoed ceiling, a new Seminar Room adjacent to the terrace allowing full access to the terrace for students and faculty, and fire-safety-compliant exits through both the main front door as well as the back door beyond the grand Conference Room. Furnishings for the classrooms are a current question mark given the uncertainty of our financial situation at the moment.

Regardless, we remain hopeful for 2021, for the dissipation and control of the virus globally, for the transformation of all of our lives into the “new normal”, and for return of our students to the UW Rome Center. We are here waiting with open arms, which we’ll hold open but at 2 meter apart.