“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. From the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

History has taught us that human beings, even in the most difficult of situations, through their very nature have never given up these three fundamental pillars of existence without a fight. Even during the most bitter conflicts, where life and liberty cease to be rights, human beings look for comfort in the pursuit of happiness, or something that resembles it.

That's what we've seen happen during the months of the pandemic: our liberties were severely limited, our lives suddenly became more unstable, but we never stopped looking for happiness. We found it – sometimes rediscovered it – in loved ones, in art, in spontaneous concerts and in collective balcony applauses, in love, in weddings celebrated within the confines of the safety regulations. And in the delivery rooms where new lives, despite the virus, tenaciously burst into the world.

Camogli, Liguria, 29 August 2020. Tourists begin to visit this Ligurian town.

The audience watch a show at the Théâtre La Comédie on the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship.

Genoa. An old lady receives the medication delivered to her home by a volunteer.

Messina. Corrado (33, an office worker at a Civil Engineering company) and Grazia (34, a neuro-psychomotor therapist who is currently dedicating her time to her family), with their children Gabriele, 9, Andrea, 8, Mattia, 6, Giulia, 2, and little Gregorio, who's 10 months old. Grazia: “Our daughter Giulia put two swimming costumes on over her clothes, one on top of the other, because she wanted to go to the seaside. I filled the bath up, and a little bit of bubble bath was enough to help her forget about the lockdown”.

Naples, the Rione Sanità district.

At the Humanitas San Pio X Hospital in Milan, Diarti Mane, who’s originally from Albania, becomes emotional while using a tablet provided by the hospital to watch his wife Luna Melchiorri give birth to their baby daughter Camilla. During the Covid-19 emergency, some hospitals don’t allow fathers to be present at birth.

Rome, the Torpignattara neighbourhood. During the lockdown, singer Manuele Fraternali performs every evening at 6 p.m. on the roof of his apartment building.

Passengers dance at the disco aboard the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship.

The wedding ceremony of Giuseppe Maroni and Gian Carla Comi in the town hall of Valmadrera (near Lecco) on April 14, 2020, at the height of the Covid emergency. The bride made the crocheted masks herself.

Milan, a trainer at the Virgin Gym gives a lesson in front of the camera: the videos are then posted on the company’s social media channels. This is to help its clients keep fit at home.

Naima and her father Andrea. The Covid emergency meant that he had to stop his work as a musician: this allowed him to spend more time with his daughter in Bologna.

The mayor of Magasa, Federico Venturini, takes a break with some of his fellow citizens in a bar run by Giulia Bettanini. Magasa, near Brescia, is one of the so-called “zero Covid” villages, where not a single case of infection has been recorded.

At the Buzzi Hospital in Milan, Serena Minischetti has just given birth to a baby boy, Edoardo. Her partner Massimo Paglierucci, who is overcome with emotion, holds his head in his hands.

Dina Ravera, a manager, works from her home near Piazza Gae Aulenti, in Milan. A graduate in electronic engineering and an expert in telecommunications, Dina now sits on the boards of a number of Italian companies.

Paul and Toni live in Berlin; they’ve known each other for seven years and are good friends. They both share a passion for street art. When they could still go out, they would go looking for new artwork on the walls of Berlin’s buildings. During the lockdown they speak every day and dream of being able to meet up again and go out, as they used to.

Beniamino, Benedetta and Lucrezia are actors with the Dual Band theatre group, which puts on performances in both Italian and English. The group is based at Cielo Sotto Milano, an underground performance space near Porta Vittoria in Milan. The lockdown has been a time for reflection, study and the development of new projects. These include a performance format in the courtyards of Milan’s apartment buildings and institutions.

On 25 March, the day Matilde turned 25, Matteo, who is 46, left Cervia to join her in Bologna, even though he risked being given a fine. He stayed there and now the two of them live together.

Magasa (near Brescia). A young couple from the town, Silvano Mazza and Zelia De Bardonneche with their three-month-old baby Raffaele. Magasa is one of the so-called “zero Covid” villages, where not a single case of infection has been recorded.

Rome, the Monteverde Nuovo neighbourhood, 30 March, 2020. A man does gymnastics on the apartment building roof, after the closure of gyms and parks.

San Cipriano Picentino (near Salerno). Teresa Tastardi is a young single mother with two girls, aged 8 and 11. She works as a shop assistant in a supermarket and, in order to guarantee her children’s safety, she sent them to live with their grandmother. The only way for her to see them is through video calls.

Gallery owner Silvia Agliotti during the lockdown, which she spent with her daughters in her home in Milan.

Distancing and safety precautions are observed at the GDA marble quarries in Massa in the Apuan Alps. The white marble of Carrara is one of the most prized varieties in the world, and the quarries have never stopped working.

Modena. Emmanuel, 43, works in an abattoir and is a religious minister. Here he's with Jennifer (32, an intercultural mediator and bartender) and their children Prosper, 7, Rejoyce, 5, and Dominion, who's one year old. Jennifer says: “Now we're all at home we've got more time to reflect and think about what we're going to do when we get back to normality. As for me, as a believer, I think God's love is free and he'll save us”.

At the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, a midwife passes newborn baby Audrey into the arms of her mother, model Anne Christensen, under the gaze of Anne’s partner Iaki Calcagnile.

2 April 2020. Mario Donati, a war veteran who served on the Russian front in the famous Italian Alpino regiment and who later became a partisan, connecting via WhatsApp from his home in Pumenengo, near Bergamo, on his 100th birthday. His wife Mina, 96, is by his side. This is just one of the many video calls made with family and friends on a very special day. These calls bring everyone that little bit closer together during lockdown.

Rosalba Piccinni in her flower shop in Milan: during the lockdown she has offered online pruning courses.

Milan, second-stage accommodation run by the charity CAST (Centro Assistenza Sociale Territoriale). Sana Fofana, who is originally from Gambia, worked in a carpentry and restoration workshop but the Covid-19 emergency has put an end to his activities.

The virus - and the subsequent closure of schools on 26 February - was like a tsunami: students didn't even have time to collect their books and notebooks. Only when the lockdown was over, in June, was it possible to return to the classrooms to pick them up. That's what Bianca is doing, a pupil from class "prima C" at the Gianni Rodari primary school in Saronno, near Varese.

In the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, during the first days of the restrictive measures that have been imposed as the epidemic begins to spread: the gift of a rose helps people forget, albeit briefly, the growing anxiety in Italy’s business and financial capital.

Lazare Ohandja is a dancer and choreographer in Milan. After initially feeling disorientated in the first lockdown phase, he reviewed his old works and thought about how to create new ones. Being forced to stay at home enabled him to spend more time with his family and appreciate the work of his wife, who is an artist.

In the garden of her apartment building, Federica Negri, a businesswoman who owns a bar in Milan’s Navigli district, breastfeeds two-month-old Milo while her four-year-old daughter Ginevra hugs her from behind.

Milan, the San Raffaele Hospital. Model Anne Christensen with her newborn baby daughter Audrey.

Mattia and Federica, owners of the “Joe” bar in Chioggia Sottomarina, near Venice. “We’re open all year round and, compared with last year, we’re down by 75%. We have no idea whether the summer season will go ahead”.

On 18 March, the Winter Garden, a four-star hotel just a stone’s throw from Bergamo airport, made its facilities available to Covid-19 patients who had been discharged from hospitals, but were still positive and waiting to return to their homes. This patient, for example, spent over three weeks at the facility. The purpose is to be absolutely certain that they don’t pose a threat to their families.

New mum Marianna Baldini, her partner Manuel Cominotto, and their baby son Edoardo, who was born six days earlier, have come to the Buzzi Hospital in Milan for tests.

Nigerian mothers and children who have requested asylum in Italy and live in accommodation run by the Il Gabbiano association in Calolziocorte (near Lecco). Due to the Covid-19 emergency, all bureaucratic procedures for obtaining documents, as well as training courses, apprenticeships and work experience, not to mention integration programmes, have been suspended.

Cinisello Balsamo (near Milan). Irene Barrientos with her daughter Rossella in the living room of the home they share with her husband and three other children. The apartment was provided by Fondazione Progetto Arca. Because of the Covid-19 emergency both parents lost their jobs and for this reason they regularly receive food parcels.

Rome, the Monteverde neighbourhood. During the lockdown it’s increasingly difficult for parents of young children to satisfy their need for movement. At the end of the afternoon on 30 March, a father plays with his son on a small terrace.

Silvia Iori, a teacher at Milan’s Manzoni High School, gives a lesson from home during lockdown. Meanwhile, her son takes a sneaky look at the contents of her computer.

Curino (Biella). Laura (28, a film director's assistant), Sara (40, a marketing professional), Tiziana (72, a senior manager), Maurizio (47, a Teatro alla Scala technician), Elda (5 months old), Daniele (31, a coordinator at Milano Check Point) and Matteo (43, a set designer) with their dogs. Daniele says: “I don't think there's much point in thinking about tomorrow, it's something we still can't even begin to imagine. It's better to think about the here and now, to live in the moment, to do your best without visualising yourself in an unknown future”.

Myriam Mariani, a professor at the faculty of Social Sciences and Politics at the Bocconi University in Milan, works from home together with her husband Alfonso Gambardella, a professor at the faculty of Management and Technology at the same university.

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