Late on March 11th, the entire country of Italy went into lockdown, becoming the first country in Europe to take drastic measures to enforce social distancing.
After already being told to forgo cheek kisses and handshakes, Italians suddenly found themselves ordered to stay home and to even give up family meals with grandparents and other relatives who lived separately.
Social ties run deep in Italy, and citizens have found creative ways to stay connected while keeping their distance – including by bursting into song from their windows.
The musical movement started the first full night of lockdown when a neighborhood in Naples spontaneously started singing together. The flashmob quickly spread through social media and the message was out for all of Italy to take to their windows and balconies at 6 pm.
On March 13th, the separated Italian public joined together from their own homes at 6 pm to play music, starting with their National Anthem, ‘Il Canto Degli Italiani’ to boost morale in light of the worsening coronavirus crisis.
On March 14th at 12 noon, Italians also opened their windows to applaud the nurses and doctors who are working in unimaginable conditions to save lives as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.
Because people are encouraged to stay home as much as possible and only leave their homes for necessities like food and medicine, Italian children have begun to post messages in their windows. As the #iorestoacasa (I’m staying home) hashtag trends, Italy’s smallest citizens are hand painting and coloring rainbows with the words “Andrà tutto bene” – everything will be ok.
The 6 pm musical renditions have become a nightly tradition, with Italians finding small ways to stay connected to the friends and neighbors they can no longer visit in person and to lift for a moment the anxiety that we all feel. Though, they do have words of wisdom to share with their past selves – and with other countries who may be only 10 days behind Italy’s current situation.