Italo Calvino wrote that cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears.

During the weeks of the lockdown our cities, the places familiar to us, became exactly this: a receptacle of anxious desires – the hope that the pandemic would be over quickly, the yearning to hold our loved ones and to get back to our daily routines – and of fears, some justified, others irrational.

And now that we look at them again in these images, with their deserted squares, trafficless streets, closed shutters, and the long morning shadows cast by monuments with no passers-by to break up the solidity, we realise that our cities were almost dreamlike: unreal, abstract, eerie.

Empty just as, at least once in their lives, their inhabitants hoped they might become, now knowing we never want to see them like that again. Because after all (to quote Calvino again) every city takes its form from the desert beyond it.

Venice, the Canal Grande.

Rome, the Colosseum.

Milan, the Natural History Museum.

Milan, the amusement park at the Sempione park.

Bergamo, Winter Garden Hotel: a four-star hotel that became a hospital for Covid-19 patients.

Milan, council housing in the Quarto Oggiaro neighbourhood, on the northwest outskirts of the city.

Jesolo (near Venice), pedalos parked on dry land.

Venice, Railway Station Square.

A technician prepares the tricolour installation projected on the silos of Mulino Ferro (a food producer) in Campobasso, Molise, ten days after the start of the national lockdown.

The McDonald's at the largest shopping mall in Taranto.

Rome, the Esquilino neighbourhood.

Caorle (near Venice), the beach after having been left unmaintained for three months.

Gerola Alta (near Sondrio).

Milano, the Venice motorway leading to Bergamo.

Milan, the Mondadori bookshop in Duomo square.

The alleyways in Alberobello, Puglia.

Rome. The Giardinetti train, which is empty during lockdown.

The Duomo in Milan, during the first days of national lockdown.

Drones have been extensively used in Italy during the lockdown in order to monitor people and dissuade them from gathering. Many of these drones belong to civilians who are collaborating with the forces of law and order.

Jesolo (near Venice) apartments are almost all empty and there is a complete lack of demand for the summer season.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan.

Milan, Via Dei Sagredo.

Jesolo (near Venice).

Milan, Linate Airport.

Irma (Brescia), one of the “zero Covid” villages in Lombardy.

Milan, along the Navigli.

Rome, St. Peter's Basilica.

Venice, Campo San Giacomo di Rialto.

Milan, Central railway station.

Chioggia Sottomarina (near Venice).

Piacenza, a field hospital built by the Italian Army.

Milan, Linate Airport.

Chioggia Sottomarina (near Venice).

San Zenone al Lambro, near Milan.

Rome, Piazza di Spagna.

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