Red Zone diaries: Life in a quarantined Italian town

Usually bustling with people and traffic, now deserted - the narrow streets of San Fiorano in northern Italy.

It's one of the towns the country has put into effective quarantine - a coronavirus ghost town near Milan.

Marzio Toniolo is a primary school teacher here.

One of some 50,000 people who've had their lives put on hold, told by the authorities to stay indoors as much as possible.

(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PRIMARY SCHOOLTEACHER, MARZIO TONIOLO, 35, SAYING:

"We can take walks, we can walk our dogs, we can go jogging, we can ride bikes but authorities suggested us to avoid contact with other people. We know that we may be infected and that we may already have contracted the coronavirus."

Marzio lives with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

His grandparents also share the house.

Life is in limbo here, with little to do except watch the news for the latest on the virus - and stare out of the window and wonder how long this will last.

(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PRIMARY SCHOOLTEACHER, MARZIO TONIOLO, 35, SAYING:

"My grandparents are 90 so we know that the risks, especially for them, are high. Coronavirus does not appear to have any effect on children except for a mild fever.''

Day five of the quarantine and Marzio has run out of food.

He'd normally pop out to his local shop.

But this week he really needs to stock up, so he's forced to drive more than six kilometers to Codogno - the small town where Italy's outbreak of the virus began.

The long lines suggest many more are in the same boat.

Marzio drives down an empty road to find a military police blockade at the entrance of the so-called 'red zone'.

He can't get close.

Anyone who tries to escape the blockade faces up to three months in prison.

Marizio has received news that a friend of his had contracted the coronavirus.

But it's good news - he's already made a full recovery.

There's a nervousness among locals in San Fiorano - one of about a dozen Italian towns in virtual lockdown.

The wait for life to return to normal has a while to run yet.