The tongue can conceal the truth, but the eyes never!
Suddenly faces, covered by masks, became just eyes. And in the most powerful way possible, the eyes reflect the experiences we encountered and hold their memory.
The most vivid memory for the hospitalised patients are the eyes of the doctors and nurses through which, behind protective visors, they developed the ability to read the signs of anxiety or optimism, drawing from them either despondency or hope.
Those same eyes, when turned towards the camera, were filled with determination, courage, self-sacrifice. Fatigued, but never giving in. Traits we associate with heroes, although – they would say – calling them heroes would be specious.
The same traits unveiled by all the eyes in this collection of images, including those who aren't medical professionals: because all of them, when they looked into our lenses, were working to help the country.
Left: a woman with her cat in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. Right: a teenager in Piazza della Scala in Milan at the end of a demonstration in support of workers in the entertainment industry.
The Foreste Casentinesi, in the Appennines, on the border between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.
Sara Reboldi, a healthcare worker in the Covid-19 intensive care ward at the Fondazione Poliambulanza Hospital in Brescia, Lombardy.
Genoa, an old man enjoys the spring sun just outside his home.
Free to Fly youth centre, Alfonsine, Emilia-Romagna. Lara, aged 18: "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 any more: everything that used to be 'normal' is now forbidden". Zahie, aged 18: "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."
Laura Morelli in her house in Milan. Laura alternates between her job as a rider and her role as a contract teacher at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples.
Milan, April 2020. Young women with a full cart.
Valerio, 24, studies land management and enhancement at La Sapienza University in Rome. Having commuted each week since September, on 5 March, four days before the lockdown, Valerio returned definitively to Caserta, Campania. During the quarantine he continued his studies and managed to take some of his exams remotely. His university allowed some students to continue to study in-person and remotely but field trips were obviously not possible.
Cervinia, Valle d'Aosta. A Scottish girl, who should have been enjoying her fourth season of working on the Cervinia slopes, is now unemployed but can’t get back home. “The only thing I can do right now is pass the time with my colleagues and friends around the base of the ski lift.”
A young person on board the regional train from Milan to Lecco wearing a face mask during the coronavirus emergency.
Brescia, Lombardy. April 2020: Debora Volonghi, a nurse at the Covid-19 intensive care ward at the Fondazione Poliambulanza Hospital.
Teatro Coccia, Novara, Piedmont. Theatre director Corinne Baroni poses in the empty theatre during a break in filming “Cassandra, in te dormiva un sogno”, which is being livestreamed.
A young couple in the Città Studi district in Milan wearing face masks during the coronavirus emergency.
Milan, April 2020. Young woman walking her dog.
Naples. Aldo, a street vendor and craftsman, proudly wears his new mask with the number 10 and the portrait of Maradona, the eternal captain.
Milan, April 2020. A couple in line outside the Esselunga Supermarket.
Cinema Romano, Turin. Projectionist Claudio Botta has worked for 25 years at the same cinema. He is due to retire soon.
Sauze d'Oulx, Piedmont. Youri, a former member of the Italian national snowboarding team and now an instructor. “Mountains are my life, I have been living in these places since I was a child. These slopes are where I developed my passion over the years.”
Milan, April 2020.
The Italian Red Cross project “L’Italia che aiuta” (the Italy that helps). Alberto Leotta, aged 29, a volunteer with the Italian Red Cross since 2015, coordinates the response for the Mascalucia section, in Sicily.
Carla, mother, rider and owner of a family-run sandwich bar in Turin. During the lockdown her business has lost more than half of its turnover and she has tried to do what she can, even using her Vespa for deliveries.
Fabio, 40, is a cook and musician, Stephanie, 37, a translator. They live in the country and so they say they had already been living in lockdown for quite some time. The Coronavirus emergency hasn't changed their habits: on the contrary, it has given them more time to devote to their vegetable garden and their passions.
Federica is a health and social worker in an ER in Turin. Despite the exhausting shifts, during the emergency she has completed her studies, graduating in nursing.
Valentina and Lanka, who are both 19 years old, are boyfriend and girlfriend, as well as classmates. They saw each other via Skype during lockdown to study, chat and play online. Once their final exams were over, they could finally spend their days together. Future intentions: spend more time with parents, “which, after all, is pretty great”.
Brussels, Jean Baptiste has been a bike courier for about two years. He decided to change career after working as an administrator in an NGO. With the Belgian capital deserted on account of the lockdown, couriers like Jean Baptiste have been busy delivering masks, basic necessities and unusually large quantities of beer.
Alessandro Morello is a firefighter. His brother Luigi, who is also a firefighter, was the commander of the station at Sala Consilina (near Salerno), and was one of the first victims of Covid.
Andrea Vertemati, a doctor in the ER at the Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo. In the second half of March Bergamo is the city most affected by Covid-19, with the highest per capita death toll in the world. Its main hospital, the Giovanni XXIII, risks collapse on account of the enormous number of patients.
A “ghisa” – as the Milan traffic police are usually called by the locals – in front of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, which is empty during the lockdown.
Milan, Enrico Nespoli, a parish priest at the Santa Marcellina e San Giuseppe alla Certosa church. Like all churches, Don Nespoli's had to close during the lockdown. Every week he has live-streamed the mass.
Italy. Giulia, an AVPS (First Aid Volunteer Association) volunteer in Vimercate (near Monza) in her team’s ambulance.
Roberta, a volunteer, at the headquarters of the Red Cross committee of the V Municipality in Rome.
Young French painter Sebastien Notre used the experience of being stuck at home in Milan to create a series of collages, which he then pitched to a number of brands around the world. His initiative has proved to be a success and today he is working full-time on this new creative technique.
The experimentation phase for the collection of hyperimmune plasma was launched on 17 March 2020, at the San Matteo Hospital in Pavia. The plasma was donated by patients who'd recovered from Covid-19 and is being used as a treatment for the infection. Annalisa Menga, 30, a captain and commander of the carabinieri's Mobile Response Unit in Pavia, says: “I know that my bag of plasma won't solve the Covid-19 problem in Italy, but giving a few drops, together with those of other colleagues, might just help give our country a boost”.
Bollate (near Milan). Livio Soffia suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and he has just received a tank of oxygen from Vivisol, the Sol Group company specialised in homecare health assistance.
Beekeeper Dino Venturini, 89, worked in Switzerland for many years. He now lives in Magasa, near Brescia, one of the so-called “zero Covid” villages, where not a single case of infection has been recorded.
High safety standards have enabled ICR Cosmetics in Lodi not to record any cases of Covid-19 among its employees, despite the fact that the company's headquarters are located in one of the areas of Italy most affected by the pandemic.
Alex Bremdilla, a nurse in an IC ward at the Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo. In the second half of March, Bergamo is the city most affected by Covid-19, with the highest per capita death toll in the world. Its main hospital, the Giovanni XXIII, risks collapse on account of the enormous number of patients.
The experimentation phase for the collection of hyperimmune plasma was launched on 17 March 2020, at the San Matteo Hospital in Pavia. The plasma was donated by patients who'd recovered from Covid-19 and is being used as a treatment for the infection. Simone Molinari, 37, a nurse at the 118 call centre at the Hospital, says: “When you work on emergencies as I do, and you become unwell, you feel powerless. Donating a little piece of me has been liberating”.
Omoje, aged 26, shares an apartment with 28-year-old Motunrajo in Olginate, near Milan, and helps take care of her 6-month-old daughter Priscilla. Both women are from Nigeria and have applied for asylum in Italy after having reached the country via Libya.
Genoa. A doctor in complete PPE on board the MV Splendid, which has been converted into a Covid-19 hospital.
Poet Francesca Genti has a small publishing house in Milan and hand binds the books that she publishes. During the lockdown she has finished binding a backlog of books.
Nothing has changed since the lockdown began for Giuseppe, who works as a garbage man in Positano (near Salerno). After a cup of coffee, he climbs almost ten thousand steps to ensure door-to-door collection of waste in the “vertical city”.
An employee at the Gelmetti fishmongers in Milan during the lockdown.
Patrizia Moroso is the artistic director of Moroso, a furniture company that was founded in the Friuli region in 1952 and which is now recognised throughout the world. It is one of the many Italian companies that have suffered on account of the lockdown.
Every morning Luca leaves the outskirts of Rome, where he lives, to reach the centre. He is a cameraman with the national TV network RAI, and every day he takes care of the live broadcasts from Palazzo Chigi, the Prime Minister’s office.
Vedeseta mayor Luca Locatelli in the council offices. Vedeseta, near Bergamo, is one of the so-called “zero Covid” villages, where not a single case of infection has been recorded.
Piacenza. In the field hospital built by the Italian Army.
The experimentation phase for the collection of hyperimmune plasma was launched on 17 March 2020, at the San Matteo Hospital in Pavia. The plasma was donated by patients who'd recovered from Covid-19 and is being used as a treatment for the infection. Fausto Bernini, 53, a manager and representative for medical professionals providing private consultations at the Hospital, says: “I wasn't able to help my colleagues at work, because I had to stay in lockdown at home as a result of Covid-19. Contributing to Dr Perotti's research, and to that of his team, has given me the opportunity to do my bit”.
Genoa. Nurse Giulia Bellantonio, who has just finished her shift in the high-infection risk patient ward on board the MV Splendid, which has been converted into a Covid-19 hospital.
Work resumes at Moroso Divani in Udine after an upgrade to the safety measures at the factory.
Contract teacher Noemi Ventura has been unable to work or earn a salary since the beginning of the lockdown and the closure of the schools. Noemi lives in Milan with another contract teacher, Elsa Radaelli, in an apartment provided by the Progetto Arca foundation, which also supplies them with food parcels.
The experimentation phase for the collection of hyperimmune plasma was launched on 17 March 2020, at the San Matteo Hospital in Pavia. The plasma was donated by patients who'd recovered from Covid-19 and is being used as a treatment for the infection. Giulia Smaldore, 26, a physiotherapist, says: “Donating gave me a positive boost of energy, I came back home really enthusiastic. I'd never donated before, but from ow on I'm going to keep doing it”.
Cinisello Balsamo (near Milan). Irene Barrientos in her home which she shares with her husband and four children. The apartment was provided by the Progetto Arca foundation. Both parents lost their jobs because of the Coronavirus, and for this reason they regularly receive food parcels.
Stefano Costa, a GP in Settimo Torinese, in personal protective equipment before receiving patients in his surgery. GPs are the health workers who have been worst affected by Covid-19. They were often unable to obtain PPE.