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We’ll remember 2020 as the year of the pandemic. But, more than anything, we’ll remember it as the year in which everything changed: our way of living, our habits, our values system. The meaning of words also changed: until just recently many words were used and often abused until they sounded almost meaningless, like empty mantras. And yet, during the months of lockdown, and those that followed, as things started opening up again, they took on a new, deeply profound meaning: sustainability, social inclusion, circular economy, solidarity. And others: mindfulness, disruption, innovation, digitalisation, resilience.


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Every crisis contains a seed of opportunity. The pandemic has forced humanity to pay a heavy price, but it has also forced it to make radical changes, to quickly transform the concepts expressed by those mantras into concrete actions: the future will tell us to what extent we’ve been able to grasp the opportunities offered by this crisis to permanently improve our society and the planet we live on.

However, the present has already told us something about our country, Italy. As has always been the case in moments of need, we have seen it play its ace cards: its unrivalled creativity, flexibility and its ability to react. Despite the lockdown, we have seen it continue to produce and work so as to guarantee essential services, while health workers have given absolutely everything in the hospitals.

Right from the very early stages of the pandemic until today, our photojournalists have been following it every day: daily reports of a country hit hard in a way few other countries were, but that was able to roll up its sleeves and tackle the emergency in a way that few others were capable of. And then came the recovery, the vaccine campaign and the transformations that the pandemic has brought to our society and our lives.

With CoviDiaries we have brought this story to life. It’s intended to be a tribute, but above all a memento: so as not to forget what we were able to be, what we are and what we have the opportunity to become in the future. Because, in the words of a Chinese proverb, when the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.


Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Recessional, Rudyard Kipling, 1897


PRELUDE


 

Prior to the Covid-19 emergency, we had never been so aware of the passing of time, of the succession of hours marked by daily press briefings, by infection and hospitalisation updates, by the counting of the days and weeks spent cooped up in our homes. Each of those days between February and June 2020 represented a milestone on a collective journey: we’ve chosen a symbolic image for every single one of them. A visual diary, a feature film boiled down to its essential frames, an album of memories.



TOPICS



Thirteen narratives recounted by the voices, faces and events which became symbols of the months of the epidemic in Italy: amid the suffering and then during the recovery, each is a story of courage and of hope. Thirteen chapters of a collective account through which we see the very best of Italy.


PLACES



The epidemic started in Lombardy in February 2020 and quickly spread across most of northern Italy before extending down to the central regions and the south, evolving in many different ways from region to region. Click to read the stories and see the images relating to each of Italy’s regions.

<div class='column one'><img src='/images/768-2-catanzaro.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Catanzaro</b></p>January 16th, 2021. Catanzaro, Calabria. A patient in the section where Covid cases at the Pugliese Ciaccio hospital are treated. Having already experienced many cases of healthcare mismanagement, “the hospital is under stress due to constant budget cuts”, explains the A&E Service Director, Peppino Masciari. “We've got so few beds yet everyone comes here, from all over Calabria. They're slowly destroying us”. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/759-2-forli.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Forlì</b></p>January 15th, 2021. Sofia, 18, is a student at the Canova artistic and musical high school in Forlì. “The worst part of distance learning is the complete lack of interaction and direct attention”, she says. “Sitting in front of a computer for 6 hours in a row is tiring: it’s harder to concentrate and you learn less. We young people can’t wait to go back to school.” <div class='column one'><img src='/images/315-2-florence.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Florence</b></p>April 18th, 2020. Lisa works for a clothing chain. She has been home for forty days, since the start of the national lockdown. She has started doing yoga by taking online courses and has rediscovered the classics of 1950s cinema and Antonioni. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/770-2-mediterranean-sea.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Mediterranean Sea</b></p>March 16th, 2021. A passenger takes a photo of a rainbow from the deck of the MSC Grandiosa. In March, 2021, the Grandiosa was the only cruise ship sailing in the Mediterranean thanks to rigorous safety protocols: facemasks, distancing, sanitisation and many, many swab tests prior to boarding, before every excursion and before disembarking at the end of the voyage. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/330-2-mantova.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Mantova</b></p>April 6th, 2020. A technician at Sol carries out an inspection of the plant. The company is one of Italy’s main producers of oxygen, the demand for which has increased dramatically during the emergency. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/336-2-piacenza.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Piacenza</b></p>March 21st, 2020. The field hospital is one of many set up by Italian Army specialists in record time in the weeks when the number of infections rose alarmingly and put healthcare facilities under serious strain, particularly in northern Italy. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/763-2-siena.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Siena</b></p>February 8th, 2021. At the factory of Corima Marchesini Group in Monteriggioni, Siena, phials are on the tray of a machine for filling the vaccines. Every machine is built to meet the specific requirements of individual pharmaceutical companies and is subjected to hours and hours of testing and trials before being delivered and installed at the production facilities. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/324-2-rieti.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Rieti</b></p>May 2nd, 2020. Febe, who is five, plays on a trampoline in the garden of her family’s country house in Roccantica (near Rieti). Like other children in the area, she was able to spend the lockdown period outdoors, playing in the garden or the olive grove. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/318-2-ancona.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Ancona</b></p>March 20th, 2020. In the warehouses of Scataglini Tessuti in Castelfidardo, Pierfrancesco Scataglini is at work: his is one of the many Italian companies that have converted their production lines to produce in record time the masks of which there is a huge shortage throughout the country. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/765-2-chieti.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Chieti</b></p>February 4th, 2021. The clean room at the Bormioli Pharma factory in Vasto, Chieti, where rubber stoppers for vaccine phials are produced in addition to other pharmaceutical equipment. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/322-2-salerno.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Salerno</b></p>March 27th, 2020. The storeroom of the Antica Distilleria Russo in Mercato San Severino. Many workers have been transferred from the production of distilled spirits to the production line for bottling alcohol: yet in order to meet demand, extra staff have been hired. The factory works 24 hours a day and the storeroom, even though the products are shipped immediately, is always completely full. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/766-2-latina.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Latina</b></p>August 1st, 2020. The beach at Sperlonga, Latina, seen from the Belvedere terrace on an early spring day in 2021. In spite of the uncertainties caused by the pandemic, the Lazio coast, the classic summer destination for many Romans, is preparing to welcome holidaymakers from the capital. There may well be many more of them than usual, given the restrictions preventing travel between regions or outside of the country’s borders that have forced many to consider a more local form of tourism. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/758-2-ravenna.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Ravenna</b></p>February 21st, 2021. At the Free to Fly youth centre in Alfonsine, Ravenna, Lara, aged 18, says: “At the beginning of Covid-19 there was hope: 'Stay at home, everything will be OK', but the sacrifice was for nothing and now my hope is exhausted. The concept of normality doesn’t exist anymore: everything that used to be normal is now forbidden”. Zahie, aged 18, says: “Higher education, beginning a career, new experiences and travel all seem impossible. We’re watching the best years of our lives pass by and we can’t do anything about it.” <div class='column one'><img src='/images/399-2-venice.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Venice</b></p>February 25th, 2020. A couple of tourists sitting on a bench in Campo Dei Tedeschi. Of all the images of Italian cities that have suddenly become deserted, those of Venice – which is overflowing with tourists all year round (It is the Carnival week) - are the ones that have had the greatest impact on international public opinion. They have become a symbol of the lockdown in Italy. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/321-2-turin.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Turin</b></p>April 18th, 2020. Inside the industrial spaces of Officine Grandi Riparazioni, a field hospital has been created for treating Covid-19 patients. The innovative centrepiece of the hospital is CURA, a container transformed into a high-tech intensive care unit created by the Carlo Ratti Associati studio. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/323-2-cagliari.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Cagliari</b></p>May 7th, 2020. In front of the church of the Santissima Annunziata, Father Julian converses with the parents of a three-month-old baby. The couple waits for the church to reopen so they can baptise their son. During the months of the lockdown, the parents say, the need to have their child baptised has almost become an obsession. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/769-2-reggio-calabria.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Reggio Calabria</b></p>January 19th, 2021. In San Ferdinando, Reggio Calabria, farm workers who live in a makeshift camp wait to be seen at the clinic which was opened in the neighbouring town of Polistena by NGO Emergency in 2013. Frequently exploited to work in the fields, these people often suffer musculoskeletal pain and a variety of other conditions that the Calabrian healthcare system wouldn't be able to treat. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/756-2-vercelli.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Vercelli</b></p>December 2nd, 2020. In Prarolo, Vercelli, farmer Flavio Ferraris walks through a field planted with poplars near his rice field, observing the devastation caused when the Sesia river burst its banks at the beginning of October 2020. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/327-2-rome.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Rome</b></p>April 11th, 2020. Giancarla, a Red Cross volunteer, looks at messages on her phone at the end of an exhausting shift. She can't go home yet: first she has to go and report to the local headquarters of the Italian Red Cross Committee. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/767-2-caserta.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Caserta</b></p>November 17th, 2020. Laura, 25, with her mother Bianca, 58. On October 26, 2020, Laura returned to Caserta after seven years living away, first in Rome as a student and then in Milan where she had been doing an 18-month training internship at the Appeals’ Court. She is currently studying to become a magistrate and is also looking for a firm where she can practice law. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/316-2-palermo.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Palermo</b></p>April 29th, 2020. At the end of April, Marianna Giuliano, 43, is in her fishmonger’s store in the centre. She started the business with her husband in 2003 after having worked in her father's shop since she was a child. Today she has seven employees. Since the beginning of the lockdown the shop has opened only in the morning. And yet, in spite of the emergency, sales have increased. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/760-2-san-marino.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>San Marino</b></p>December 4th, 2020. An armed guard at the entrance to the historic centre of San Marino. Although an enclave within Italian territory, during the course of the second wave of the pandemic the Republic of San Marino introduced regulations for containing the contagion that differed from those in Italy. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/400-2-genoa.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Genoa</b></p>April 18th, 2020. Since 1990 Luca has been working at the port, the largest in the country for volume of freight and passenger traffic. The Covid-19 has caused a 25% contraction of container transit and a collapse of cruises. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/319-2-varese.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Varese</b></p>April 17th, 2020. Omnitech’s Tommy robot provides support – also for the patients’ good humour – in the intensive care unit of Varese Hospital. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/762-2-pisa.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Pisa</b></p>February 3rd, 2021. In the vascular surgery operating unit of the Cisanello hospital in Pisa, the AlterEgo robot interacts with patients. AlterEgo represents a useful interface between doctor and patient but also between patient and family members. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/761-2-viareggio.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Viareggio</b></p>June 2nd, 2020. Viareggio, Lucca. Gloria, aged 26, walks on the shore. Physical distancing has become social first, then mental as well. Anxiety, irritability, apathy, fatigue, insomnia: these are some of the symptoms of what has been classified as lockdown stress. A University of Michigan study argues that the best way to overcome it is to spend time in nature. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/332-2-caltanissetta.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Caltanissetta</b></p>April 23rd, 2020. Animals need daily assistance, that’s why every day Giuseppe, 60, takes his horse to the pasture inside the property together with his daughter-in-law Chantal, 26, and their dog Djiango. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/757-2-pordenone.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Pordenone</b></p>March 4th, 2021. A view of the Bormioli Pharma factory in San Vito al Tagliamento, Pordenone. Before considering questions of logistics and distribution, one of the challenges of fighting the pandemic concerns the production of millions of ampoules and phials using borosilicate glass that can be pressed into shape in extremely high temperature furnaces to ensure the highest levels of safety on contact with pharmaceutical products such as vaccines. Bormioli Pharma is one of the few companies at global level that can offer complete packaging solutions with ampoules and phials. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/313-2-campobasso.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Campobasso</b></p>April 18th, 2020. At seven in the morning, Mario grazes his flock in the Molise countryside near Campobasso. Some time ago he decided to leave his job at the bank and his work as flight instructor to devote himself to sheep farming, together with his family. The lockdown has hardly changed his daily life in Italy’s least infected region. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/331-2-polignano-a-mare.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Polignano a Mare</b></p>May 16th, 2020. A young couple on the coast of Polignano a Mare, in Apulia. These are the days of phase 2, the gradual reopening and the slow return to normality, but the general feeling is still one of disorientation. The psychological impact of the lockdown has yet to be assessed. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/335-2-milan.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Milan</b></p>March 20th, 2020. The governor of the Lombardy Region, Attilio Fontana, during a press conference at the Region's headquarters in the early stages of the epidemic. Over the following weeks, Fontana will become a controversial figure, on account of his management of the emergency. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/328-2-crema.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Crema</b></p>April 22nd, 2020. José Ortiz and Lenin Martinez are two members of the “Henry Reeve” brigade, a Cuban health contingent created in 2005 specialising in natural disasters and epidemics. During the Coronavirus emergency it has given support to the Lombardy and Piedmont health services. A task force of 52 doctors and nurses who made themselves available to the Maggiore Hospital in Crema. At the end of the shift at the hospital, José cuts Lenin's hair in the Caritas facility in Crema where they are housed. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/755-2-cuneo.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Cuneo</b></p>December 21st, 2020. In Prato Nevoso, Cuneo, a solitary, stilled chairlift blends into a background of gleaming white snow and a passing cloud. Under Covid emergency decrees, no ski facility in Italy has been allowed to operate during the 2020 winter season. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/314-2-bologna.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Bologna</b></p>May 7th, 2020. San Lazzaro di Savena (near Bologna). Giulio follows a lesson on his mobile phone, as he does every afternoon. Giulio, who is seven, is a very demanding child, and the lockdown was particularly challenging for his parents, Chiara, 38, and Alessandro, 39. Their relationship was put to the test and took a back seat. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/329-2-brescia.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Brescia</b></p>May 2nd, 2020. Irma is one of the so-called “zero Covid” villages, where not a single case of infection has been recorded. Rebecca Zeni is in the company of her mother Alina Bazavan in a relaxing moment near the San Carlo spring. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/320-2-turin.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Turin</b></p>March 31st, 2020. Like many of his colleagues, during the months of the lockdown, the Piedmontese milk producer Marco Vanzetti has seen a drastic drop in demand. “Yet it is unthinkable to even speculate about a drop in production”, he says, “How can you suddenly stop milking during the lactation period?”. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/312-2-naples.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Naples</b></p>April 5th, 2020. A man walks on the roof of the building where he lives in the centre of Naples. At the beginning of April, as in the rest of Italy, the population of the city is forced to stay in their homes, and for many people a walk on the rooftops or terraces, however narrow, is a way of letting off steam. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/764-2-arezzo.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Arezzo</b></p>January 13th, 2021. At the ITAC production facility in Laterina, Arezzo, on the slopes of Mount Amiata, carbon dioxide for use in the production of dry ice is pumped into a tanker. The dry ice, which has a sublimation temperature of -78.5° Celsius, is the ideal coolant for lowering the temperature inside the containers for transporting Covid vaccines. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/334-2-trieste.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Trieste</b></p>March 29th, 2020. The regional Rai TV crew is preparing for daily live coverage of updates on the Covid-19 from Piazza Unità d’Italia, which is deserted due to lockdown. <div class='column one'><img src='/images/333-2-trento.jpg' class='scale-with-grid'></div><hr class='no_line hrmargin_b_30'><p style='color: #e96464; margin-bottom: 30px;'><b>Trento</b></p>April 7th, 2020. As in all the other supermarkets in Italy, gloves and masks are compulsory for shopping at the Poli di Lavis, and customer access is limited to a few people at a time. Even a simple and obvious gesture like weekly shopping has become a moment of risk.

Catanzaro

January 16th, 2021. Catanzaro, Calabria. A patient in the section where Covid cases at the Pugliese Ciaccio hospital are treated. Having already experienced many cases of healthcare mismanagement, “the hospital is under stress due to constant budget cuts”, explains the A&E Service Director, Peppino Masciari. “We've got so few beds yet everyone comes here, from all over Calabria. They're slowly destroying us”.


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