We are used to imagining time as a continuous line that proceeds at a constant pace, a movement marked by seconds and days, by the cycle of the seasons and the repetition of rites and rituals: school, work, the summer holidays and annual festivities.

For more than a year it seemed that this line had gone haywire. Suddenly we saw it almost stop and begin to twist, turning back on itself in concentric circles and then becoming a spiral. Finally, it appeared to be regaining its original speed and shape but this was an illusion because it soon slowed down again and began to draw meaningless arabesque shapes.

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Our time and our rhythms were no longer marked by days and seconds, rites and rituals, but by a new and alienating lexicon: lockdown, curfew, inter-regional travel, meetings with friends or relatives, the R number, positivity rate, red, orange, yellow and white zones, recovery. Then, after the summer came a new lockdown and the cycle started over again from scratch.

And yet, in spite of what the line of time seemed to be doing, we continued to head in the only direction possible: forwards, towards hope.

Puglia. After months at home, the summer of 2020 was a time of new-found freedom for Italians, with some special moments, like the first night of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence, featuring shooting stars) in the Covid era.

A map in Manuele’s room. Manuele, aged 24, left for Barcelona on March 8, the night before the publication of the first lockdown legislation, to begin an internship as an affiliate account manager with a Spanish digital marketing agency. He found himself starting the lockdown in a new house with four housemates that he didn’t know. He returned to Caserta on September 1, a few days before the end of the internship, after which the agency offered him a new opportunity with the possibility of working remotely.

Aron (aged 19), Rock Planet, Pinarella, Cervia, Emilia-Romagna. "I want to dance until it hurts and not give a damn about the rules. Rock Planet has been closed now for a year and I want to dance without a face mask. I want to go out at night without feeling oppressed or afraid of the police. That’s why Covid and I don’t get on."

Puglia. The Covid-19 lockdown kept “Zia Lucia” (Auntie Lucia), 92, away from her family and from the walks that she needs for her arthritis. But, when summer came, she was able, with the help of her grandchildren and a walking stick, to enjoy the colours of the sea and of her land.

Cadore, the Dolomites.

San Pietro in Vincoli, Turin. Beppe Rosso, director of ACTI Independent Theatres.

Gardaland, the Escape from Atlantis ride. On 13 June 2020 the theme park opened for the first time after the initial lockdown. Visitors are socially distanced and the attractions have yellow stickers to indicate which seats can be occupied.

Omegna, Piedmont, December 24. Adriano Trisconi, 73, a Santa Claus impersonator, takes a videocall every 15 minutes from families and kids who have booked a "live call with Santa.” Calls are answered in the basement of a house belonging to a friend of Trisconi. His friend's son, Pietro Capriata, a computer technician, manages the calls.

The port at Viareggio (Tuscany). A group of youngsters on the public beach alongside the Muraglione sea wall.

A member of the Circolo Nautico Posillipo Serie A water polo team at the Scandone Swimming Pool in Naples. During the pandemic, a number of protocols had to be followed in order to allow training to take place, including weekly swab testing, while no physical contact, a common aspect of this sport, was allowed in the pool.

Cars parked at Tower Drive-in. The Tower Drive-In in Pontinia (Lazio) is one of many in Italy. After 18 May the entire country entered the second phase of the Covid response. In this period, in fact, it was possible for people to meet up once again but with certain limitations. Drive-ins were the perfect place to enjoy some carefree entertainment after the lockdown.

The Stella district in Naples. Giuseppe selling wine door-to-door. Before the pandemic, most of his clients were restaurants in the historic city centre, but the lockdowns have forced Giuseppe to sell directly to private individuals.

Camogli, Liguria, 29 August 2020. Tourists begin to visit the town’s beach once again.

Viareggio (Tuscany). Riccardo, aged 52, has been the lifeguard and owner of the Della Spora beach club for more than 30 years. He has begun work to prepare the beach to welcome the season’s first customers.

Having fun on the water slide aboard the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship.

A road inside the theme park. On 13 June 2020 Gardland reopened for the first time after the initial lockdown. Two youngsters sit on a bench that has been modified to ensure social distancing

In the Misericordia church in Fabriano (in the Marche region), parish priest Umberto Rotili at Christmas time has arranged a baby Jesus surrounded by Covid-19 masks and disinfectant bottles, on the main altar.

Imperia, Liguria, 9 June. A young employee at the Spiaggia d’Oro beach club wears a T-shirt illustrating the anti-Covid safety measures.

Don Matteo Cella, the parish priest at Membro (Lombardy), prepares for Sunday mass at Saint Martin’s Church. Although it is now possible to attend mass in-person, numbers are strictly limited.

Aboard the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship swab tests are required prior to excursions and before the end of the voyage.

Viareggio, Tuscany. A waitress at the Galliano bar, which is one of the most famous on the seafront, takes all of the necessary anti-Covid precautions.

The 4D cinema on board the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship.

Viareggio, Tuscany. The public beach area known as Lecciona inside the Migliarino-San Rossore Nature Reserve. A group of youngsters are socially distanced in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

San Marino. The presentation of an exhibition at the Palazzo Pubblico. Events like this, which are currently banned in Italy, are authorised in San Marino, but with specific limits relating to the number of participants and social distancing rules.

Giovanni Serravalli and his wife, who both work at the fair, with a Christmas tree decoration by the carousel in the garden of their home in Bergantino, Veneto.

Sperlonga, Latina, Lazio. A group of bathers cool down in the natural springs near the beach.