COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS IN FLORENCE
How the new CORONAVIRUS outbreak is Changing Florentine Touristic Habits
Needless to say, that it will be a hard season this one, for a destination wedding photographer working with people coming to Italy from all over the world. As you might imagine, it turned out I have a lot of free time these days when clients are just canceling or postponing their photographic service. So, I decided to spend one hour or two each day biking in the Florence downtown, trying to document how this COVID-19 – the coronavirus outbreak that’s infecting the world – is impacting on the Florentine touristic (and not) life. I will try to update this post daily, let’s see if I can leave the house in the coming weeks. Each day I’ll also put something about our life on my IG stories, so follow me there to see how things are moving forward. #Staysafe, mates.
I started on my own, before the lockdowne became stricter, but after the first day the photo-editor of The Florentine asked me to become one of their contributor. You can see my photos on their site or Instagram feed.
+++++ Please note that these photos were taken for journalistic purposed – with a professional asignement letter – at short intervals each day, around the city. The underlining rule remains: #iorestoacasa; #stayathome unless you absolutely to go out for work or health reasons. +++++
For nerds or photography mates: all photos were taken with a brand new Nikon D780 and my old-but-gold Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8 G
March, the 10th / Italy Lockdown / Day 1
I must admit was a bit scared today. This is the very first time I ventured to the center of Florence after the whole of Italy – yesterday – has been put on lockdown over coronavirus outbreak. I just focused on the few people walking here and there. I never see Florence empty like this. Just a really few tourists, some photographers, and a lot of police. Please note that I shot these photos from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. All the shops and the restaurants are empty. It looks like the city itself is on hold. Suspended. And tomorrow – for sure – will not be better.
March, the 11th / Italy Lockdown / Day 2
The second day. I pushed hard on pedals because I couldn’t wait to reach the historic center of Florence again. Less people (if possible) than yesterday, walking around, today. Some elders read the newspaper, here and there. Last tourists – with their big luggage – are searching for a taxi to leave the city. The city looks unbelievably desert. Alone. Suspended. We are used to having 5 people for square meter, and now what we perceive is just a strong feeling of loneliness. S i l e n c e is the new king of the City. Moving around by bike – that’s a bit faster than feet – make stronger the idea of a time that suddenly stopped. I wanted to talk with a few tourists, taking a few portraits of them, but I just found a couple from Mexico that will live Florence to Rome tomorrow. I tried with a few Asians but they didn’t want to talk to me, as I was the virus myself. Almost all the shops, restaurants, newsstands are closed; the few ones that are not closed, are empty. Museums are closed as well. A few Italians discuss the Disease outbreaks, keeping an eye on the distance between them. The owner of a restaurant petrified looks at the empty road. I stopped talking with him and – while talking – I took a couple of portraits. We’re the new owner of our City and, for the very first time, we find the opportunity to talk to each other. We feel like brothers, soldiers on the same front. It’s so fucking weird guys but, in some way, it’s not that bad. Tomorrow I’ll direct my wheels to San Frediano, voted by Lonely Planet as the world’s coolest neighborhoods to visit.
March, the 12th / Italy Lockdown / Day 3
Today wasn’t easy at all. Yesterday our government took a few new measures, more strict than before. In a few words, all the street markets and all the shops that are not food or pharmacies most remain closed until further notice. Today’s cloudy sky looks like it was put there to underline these decisions. As I wrote yesterday, today I wanted to see what’s happening in Borgo San Frediano. This neighborhood – on the southern side of Florence’s Arno River – is known more for its artisans. Also, it’s pretty famous here because that’s where the Florentine people like to spend their free time or evening. It’s full of awesome places where you can eat any kind of local specialties as well as spend time with friends. But in the last year, a lot of young tourists started to take part in life that’s nested on this side of Florence. COVID_19 just changed something that I know from forever. I can describe what I saw with just one word: EMPTY. All my favorite shops are closed. My fav ice cream maker, where I’m used to bringing my clients, is closed. I met there Grazia, an elderly Florentine lady that was just having a brief walk outside. The other people I met today were moving by bicycle, stopping here and there to contemplate the absence and take a phew pictures, or they were taking their dogs out (these activities are both permitted, but you must be ALONE). A lot of policemen slowly cross the city, checking that the new provisions are respected. The only thing I could do was to try to photograph the absolute lack of life. This oppressive absence. In the previous photos, you’ve seen a few splashes of life. But not today. Today the city looks entirely died. I need to give me a different target in the coming days, as it’s obvious that this theme runs out today.
Note: I was tempted to make today series in black and white. Then I realized that there is enough dramatic feeling in these photos, there is no need to further exasperate them.
March, the 13th / Italy Lockdown / Day 4
The city is still empty, supervised by the Police Authority. At the moment is not still clear if people can have a quick walk or not, or if they can have a bicycle ride. What we’re all sure about is that people can leave their homes to buy food, to go to work (just for those works that have not been put on hold), and to take their dog out. Today I tried to focus on the few people moving here and there. Some of them are waiting for the bus. The few that are walking, are often stopping to take photos. Others are talking, taking care of maintaining the safe distance (our Government asked us to stay at least one meter far one from the others). I also met a few couples today, we exchanged a few words and I asked them if I could take a few portraits. All of them live in Florence, I guess the last tourists left the city on the previous days. Other people are just waiting for their turn to enter the supermarket, because just a few of them are admitted inside at the same time, to maintain a safe distance from each other. A super-nice greengrocer with blue hair gave me a laugh. I also met Anna Fucà, an amazing wedding dress designer that has her Atelier really close to Ponte Santa Trinita. She was looking at the Old Bridge, and I recognized her just after I shot the first pictures. Today I see a lot of amateur photographers, with some of them stopped by policemen. One of them asked me to pose for him with my bicycle, I hope to get the picture soon! Then I asked him to do the same for me. He’s the man in the last photo.
March, the 14th / Italy Lockdown / Day 5
Saturday. People don’t give up; you can find a lot of videos on Instagram about the Italians playing instruments from their balcony, at 6 pm. The hashtag #tuttoandràbene (that means “everything will be fine”) is everywhere. We must stay at home as much as we can but, for now, it’s permitted to have a quick run, walk or bicycle ride, with the only constrain we must do it alone and without exit from our Municipality. Today it’s a fitness day for many. Fewer workers around, I decided to focus on the people searching for a splash of normality in the oppressive daily-life of these days. Of course, lost in the gigantic spaces granted by the deserted city. Maybe in a few, I’m gonna stop riding my bike through the city one hour a day, at least until something will change. Also if I have an assignment letter, and also if I adopt any measure or precaution, I don’t want to put people at unnecessary risk through my actions.
March, the 15th / Italy Lockdown / Day 6
Today is Sunday. A sunny Sunday, breezy and with a spring feeling. But not in Florence, not today. Luckily just a few people are around, and citizens stick to the rules pretty much. Just a few grocery stores are opened and there is no reason to leave home. #stayathome is still the rule that drives everybody’s commonsense. What looks different today are the roads and streets around the city. All the companies and businesses are closed today so there is any reason for people to move. I never saw those roads so empty, at any time of the day or night. This is the new element that I never saw until now, in my whole life. Maybe next Sunday I’ll focus on this theme.
Have a nice Sunday and stay safe. Fra
March, the 16th / Italy Lockdown / Day 7
As I said earlier, the moment when I must pause would come. I showed you a lot about the city, and I guess it’s useless for everybody to move on with my daily one-hour bike ride. It’s time to lock the door of our house behind my shoulders until something new of some interest will happen. The way we’re living our houses is changing, day after day. The doors are always open and there isn’t a space that can be considered private. Me and my wife, that’s homeworking since the past week, stay together in the same room, each with his or her own computer. But there isn’t a real separation between play spaces, homework spaces or workspaces. We’re all together, all day long, suspended, for the very first time in our life. I guess these days will deeply change our life in a way we can’t really. Today the virtual classrooms started, so we spent the weekend quickly teaching the guys how the email, internet, skype, and Google Classroom work. TV is now just in English from 8 am to 7 pm. Welcome to my home, mates. Fra
All the photos of the post “COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS IN FLORENCE” have been shot by Wedding Photographer Francesco Spighi