AN East Lancashire teacher who gave a stark account of lockdown in Northern Italy has spoken of how life has changed since the restrictions have eased.

Karli Drinkwater, 35, told Lancashire Telegraph readers in March how she and her fiance, Pierangelo, were ‘effectively under house arrest’ in their home in Altedo, near Bologna.

Former Clitheroe Royal Grammar School pupil Miss Drinkwater, whose mother Cheryl Sandford lives in Langho, moved to the early Covid-19 hotspot last year and still does not know if her Italian wedding, scheduled for September 5,will go ahead.

She said: “Italy is slowly reawakening after months of confinement and with the new easing of restrictions. We feel reborn. Not with fanfare or fiestas, but with quiet gratitude. On May 18 we were finally allowed back outside after two months of being locked in our homes 24/7.

“Our first walk was strange and wonderful. To finally feel the sun on my face and fill my lungs with fresh air gave me some desperately needed happy hormones. I could feel myself calming down, even if the fear didn’t fully dissipate. We were initially only allowed to move within our small district, which meant a four-mile limit from our apartment. Still, it was better than nothing.

“I noticed every tree, every flower, the vibrant hue of the blue sky; my senses were heightened after looking at walls and screens for so long. I was tearful at how much Italy had gone through: the loss, the fight and the sacrifices made. I was grateful to be here when we personally knew people who had died of the virus, or had come very close.

“Since then, the lockdown has eased further and we can move within our entire regions now. Normal life feels like it’s returning. We went to the beach as soon as we were allowed to and I felt peaceful at long last. Hearing the waves and the wind and feeling the sand between my toes sparked a physical reaction. I felt alive.

“After this experience, we feel tired but not defeated. I look at the world with fresh eyes and hope that humans can turn things around while we still have time. My empathy for others’ suffering has grown.

“We have just rescued a beautiful dog Pippo from a shelter, who had been living in a small box for over three years of his young life.

“He is already bringing us such joy and we can’t wait to give him the life and freedom he deserves.

“It’s an unknown future for all of us, but we look forward with courage and with the hope that families across the borders will meet again.”

Mrs Sandford said: “It’s great to know she’s safe and well as Italy comes out of lockdownIt was great to see the video of her first walk.”