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

Recessional, Rudyard Kipling, 1897


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, 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.

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.


DIARY


 

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 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



Ten narratives recounted by the voices, faces and events which became symbols of the months of the epidemic in Italy: among the suffering, each is a story of courage and of hope. 10 chapters of a collective account through which we see the very best of Italy.


MAP



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/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><p>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 - are the ones that have had the greatest impact on international public opinion. They have become a symbol of the lockdown in Italy.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>Omnitech’s Tommy robot provides support – also for the patients’ good humour – in the intensive care unit of Varese Hospital.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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.</p> <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><p>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?”.</p>

Venice

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 - are the ones that have had the greatest impact on international public opinion. They have become a symbol of the lockdown in Italy.


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