Note: Article automatically translated with software from Italian
From the chronicles of the time extracted from the book “Cronache della Valle Bregaglia” printed in Chiavenna in 1910 and written by Gaudenzio Giovanoli, we find a passage that has something familiar with the COVID-19 pandemic (new coronavirus) which is now sadly present in much of the planet.
The chronicle begins by telling a rather anomalous winter, very dry and with very little snow. In the month of February 1666 and more decisively from 6 to 15 February 1666 terrible north winds were recorded.
But the climate was not the only concern that troubled the population of Bregaglia. More and more often there were rumors about the spread of the plague in the north. In particular, it was rumored that in the Germanic cities of Cologne and Frankfurt, but even more so in England, a dark evil called the plague was raging.
Only 37 years earlier the plague had particularly decimated the population of Bondo and Castasegna , two Bregagliotti villages in Sottoporta. So it is reasonable to believe that there might still have been someone alive who could tell what happened during the plague epidemic of 1629 that will go down in history as the great plague of Milan told by Manzoni.
So at that time the authorities ran for cover and immediately applied checks in Chiavenna, I quote ” The rastelli for certain suspicions were still put in Chiavenna for strollers from Allemagna “.
The plague of 1666 mentioned in the aforementioned chronicles with reference to England, is remembered as the Great Plague of London which in fact spread from 1665 to 1666 causing according to Wikipedia a number of victims quantified from 75’000 to 100’000.
In the same year and more precisely on 2 September 1666, London began to burn following a fire that was not contained. The fire lasted for several days and would mark London’s history, earning it the sinister name of “Great Fire of London”.
Continuing to read the chronicles relating to the Bregaglia, I come across a second episode that I have already dealt with in the past, relating to a bloody event that took place in Stampa , to suggest that that year was particularly sad for the Bregaglia.
Continuing the reading we come to September 1667 where for the umpteenth time there are terrible rumors about a plague epidemic, this time much closer, that is to Basel and other places in Switzerland. For the umpteenth time the authorities of the valley decide to put the “rastelli” again in Chiavenna and in other access points to quote “health caution”.
As we can see, the practice in the event of an epidemic or pandemic of closing access to certain territories is not such a recent phenomenon and attributable solely to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ancestors already knew the importance of reducing the movement of people in the event of an epidemic.