This is a developing story. For up-to-date information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
As one of the hardest hit countries during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Italy has been on strict lockdown for a week now, with many isolated in their homes. But that’s not stopping Italians from bonding through an uplifting campaign that is attempting to unify the nation during this difficult time.
In addition to the balcony serenades and videos of music being played into empty streets you’ve likely seen circulating on social media, Italians are also hanging posters adorned with rainbows and the phrase “andrà tutto bene”—meaning “everything will be alright”—on apartments and houses countrywide.
Poster board, sheets, T-shirts, and sidewalk chalk are just some of the supplies used to construct homemade banners with the uplifting messages of hope. Handprints made by children and Italian flags have also been popular decorations. For those who can’t leave their homes at all, photos of the signs have been shared to individuals’ Facebook pages.
“It’s very easy to get in a dark place,” said Lela Diers, an American currently stationed near Aviano in northeastern Italy with her husband and two young children.
“You feel this anxious weirdness with the empty streets, but then there are all these rainbows that say we’re all together, we’re going to be fine, I’m thinking of you; we’re alone, but we’re not,” Diers said. “It’s beautiful. It really has changed my outlook. We’re all together, in being all by ourselves.”
On Sunday, news channels promoted a “Flash-mob dai balconi,” inviting everyone to participate in singing the popular 1975 song by Rino Gaetano, “Ma il Cielo è Sempre Più Blu” meaning “but the sky is always bluer” at 6 p.m. They also called for an encore flash mob where Italians were encouraged to collectively turn off their lights at 9 p.m. and use a torch of some sort (a flashlight, phone, or lighter) to illuminate the sky.
The generational support is also evident. Nonnos and nonnas who once endured World War II blackouts and Nazi occupation are now seeing their children and grandchildren stepping up for them.
“They are super protective and just want people to stay in their house and do the right thing,” Diers said. “They’re all about family, but the family isn’t just your family unit, the country is.”
Italy isn’t the only place where people are taking comfort through a shared human connection during periods of lockdown. In January, people in Wuhan, China—where COVID-19 originated—shouted phrases of encouragement and sang patriotic songs through their windows to boost morale. In Spain, a fitness instructor hosted a workout class from a rooftop while his neighbors followed along from their balconies.
As restaurants and bars begin to close across the United States, and Americans face their own potential coronavirus lockdowns, perhaps we can all learn something from these other countries. Because all of us need to believe that, in the end, andrà tutto bene.
Additional reporting provided by the Associated Press.
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