In a time of turmoil, Italy sings



A man plays guitar as part of Italy’s musical event organized to raise morale for COVID-19.

Despite being in a time of turmoil due to COVID-19, civilians in Italy still found a way to unite and reinforce their strength as a community. From the Tuscan town of Siena to the southern city of Naples, Italians sang from their windows and their balconies about the beauty of their country to relieve tensions related to the virus.

In a period of just one week, Italians have been facing severe changes that have taken a huge toll on the mental health of its citizens. According to the New York Times, last Monday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expanded the “red zone” from the Lombardy region to all of Italy, meaning 60 million Italian citizens are expected to stay home unless there is a dire emergency. 

With the new country-wide quarantine, daily life in Italy has also turned to chaos. Every day, Italian residents wake up to closed schools, stores, restaurants, theatres, museums, and any other non-essential shops except for grocery stores and pharmacies. With the three-foot social distancing rule, Italians were also stripped of their cultural traditions of hugging and kissing everyone they come in contact with.

On top of these occurrences, Italians are also facing prison strikes from over 27 prisons due to Conte’s restrictions on face-to-face visits with family members. Due to this rule, over 50 prisoners have been motivated to escape from jail in the past week.

With all of this happening in a short period, residents needed a way to cope with the vast changes occurring in their country. This is why on Friday evening, on the exact hour of the usual time that they release the number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19, Italians came together across the country and sang the national anthem and played instruments outside their rooftops, balconies, and windows.

“It’s not like we’re maestros [distinguished musicians],” said Emma Santachiara, a participant who came out on her terrace. “It’s a moment of joy in this moment of anxiety.” 

In Siena, they sang a traditional Tuscan folk song, Il Canto Della Verbena, which is a song Italians have been singing since the Middle Ages about the beauty of Italy. Throughout Italy, music rang through the country to unite residents in the belief that everything will be okay.

“We’re Italians, and being vocal is part of our culture. It is a way to feel a community and to participate in the collective grief,” said Giorgio Albertini, a participant in the flash mob singing.

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