Even quarantine was invented in Italy!

I was thinking that at this period about 4 billion persons in the world are isolated at their houses in self-isolation. What is more, we all don’t even know how long it will take to stay at home … Here in Liguria we have to stay home already from 26 days … During these days I realised that even this experience, I mean the quarantine, was invented here in Italy … not in Liguria, but the Republic of Genoa was the first place that applied this invention.


The word quarantine comes from quarantena, that means “forty days”. It was started to be used in the XIV-XV century in Venice and meant the period that all foreign ships had to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore.


The first mention of the need for isolation comes from the Bible. Then, the first hospital to isolate the patients infected by leprosy was created in Damascus. However, the quarantine as we know nowadays was invented in Venice, during the Black Death epidemy. In fact in the XIV century, the Black Death caused the death of about 30% of Europe’s population, and a significant percentage of Asia’s population. A document of the Venetian Senate introduced a restriction that before entering Venice, newcomers had to spend 40 days (quarantena) in a restricted place (originally on the nearby island of Lazzaretto Vecchio) waiting to see whether the symptoms of Black Death would develop. The 40-day quarantine proved to be an effective formula because according to current estimates, the plague had a 37-day period from infection to death.

In that period the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Genoa were the most powerful and the most influents Maritime Republics at the Mediterrane Sea. They both had very intense commercial exchanges with Asia and Africa. That’s why Genoa was the first that followed the example of Venice and after Genoa also the rest of Europe.


  • Nowadays, in the times of COVID-19, it is supposed that the period of incubation of the virus takes from 5 to 14 days. That’s why all positive persons have to stay in self-isolation at least 14 days … let’s say that it is much better than 40 days isolation  😉
  • Each country around the world decided its security measures. The current situation is something new and every country has to face it up in the best way for itself.
  • The whole of Italy is locked down. You can’t move from one town to another and you have to stay in self-isolation even if you are not infected by COVID-19.

I hope that this Italian, ancient way of defeating viruses will work also this time and we will back to our regular lives soon!


p.s. The featured image shows how I’m passing my self-isolation 🙂 I can’t move, so I have only this view … but I started to tan (!) … something positive in all this period of self-isolation 😉


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