Photographers Show Italian Life During Quarantine : The Picture Show Three independent photographers based in Italy share their perspectives with images showing normally busy cities that are now empty, the Mona Lisa wearing a mask and a reassuring Post-it note.
NPR logo Italian Lockdown: Images Of Life In Isolation

Italian Lockdown: Images Of Life In Isolation

Iole Liguore, 11, plays the violin on her terrace while Italy is under a coronavirus lockdown. Nadia Shira Cohen hide caption

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Nadia Shira Cohen

Iole Liguore, 11, plays the violin on her terrace while Italy is under a coronavirus lockdown.

Nadia Shira Cohen

Since March 9, Italy has been on government-ordered quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus. There are currently over 140,000 cases throughout the country.

Photographers Nadia Shira Cohen, Gianni Cipriano and Camilla Ferrari have documented what life looks like as cities across Italy have shut down. Their images show social isolation in small spaces and the new daily routines under lockdown.

Here are their stories.

Nadia Shira Cohen
Rome

As the novel coronavirus ravages Italy, Rome lies in near silence. A city constantly filled with people empties out. Tram wheels scraping against the tracks and ambulance sirens are the only prominent sounds to be heard. Romans live life from their balconies, and the ones without homes wander the streets desperately looking for help in a city devoid of activity.

A woman looks out from her balcony in the Prenestina neighborhood of Rome. Nadia Shira Cohen hide caption

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Nadia Shira Cohen

A woman looks out from her balcony in the Prenestina neighborhood of Rome.

Nadia Shira Cohen

The Cordonata Capitolina stairs lead to an empty Piazza Venezia during rush hour. Nadia Shira Cohen hide caption

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Nadia Shira Cohen

The Cordonata Capitolina stairs lead to an empty Piazza Venezia during rush hour.

Nadia Shira Cohen

A woman prays in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs in Rome. Nadia Shira Cohen hide caption

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Nadia Shira Cohen

A woman prays in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs in Rome.

Nadia Shira Cohen

Gianni Cipriano
Naples

The lockdown has put me in a very uncomfortable position as a photographer: Go out and tell the story, or stay home?

The safety and health of my loved ones — who could suffer the consequences of my behavior — come first. So I stay. Or is this simply the story I'm telling myself?

For the first time in a very long time, I started photographing just for myself, without being on assignment and without a goal. I'm building memories of my own by observing the new daily routine within the walls of our home, from our window and on our way to buy food.

A view of Mount Vesuvius from Cipriano's living room in Naples. Gianni Cipriano hide caption

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Gianni Cipriano

A view of Mount Vesuvius from Cipriano's living room in Naples.

Gianni Cipriano

Left: The photographer buys groceries about once a week and says sunlight is what he misses most. Right: A poster of the Mona Lisa wearing a mask, by the street artist Flase. Gianni Cipriano hide caption

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Gianni Cipriano

Left: The photographer buys groceries about once a week and says sunlight is what he misses most. Right: A poster of the Mona Lisa wearing a mask, by the street artist Flase.

Gianni Cipriano

Mimmo, Cipriano's father-in-law, steps outside his entrance door to accept groceries. Because of his weakened immune system, he's hasn't ventured out since the first week of March. Gianni Cipriano hide caption

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Gianni Cipriano

Mimmo, Cipriano's father-in-law, steps outside his entrance door to accept groceries. Because of his weakened immune system, he's hasn't ventured out since the first week of March.

Gianni Cipriano

Camilla Ferrari
Milan

Milan has been under lockdown since March 9, and I have rarely left the house since. I am completely aware of how lucky my partner and I are to have a home to spend this terrifying time in together, and to be healthy.

That is why, when everything unfolded, I tried to have the most positive mindset I could. This forced process of slowing down, these tight limits that all of us are facing, also create opportunities to photograph home and daily life and became a means for relief and discovery.

At the entrance of photographer Camilla Ferrari's apartment building in Milan, she found this Post-it note on the buzzer. "Andrà tutto bene" (everything will be OK) is an expression that has come to symbolize unity in time of physical and social distance. Camilla Ferrari hide caption

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Camilla Ferrari

At the entrance of photographer Camilla Ferrari's apartment building in Milan, she found this Post-it note on the buzzer. "Andrà tutto bene" (everything will be OK) is an expression that has come to symbolize unity in time of physical and social distance.

Camilla Ferrari

Left: An Albert Einstein bust and bookshelf in the living room glow under the lamp light. Right: Self-portrait reflected in the window at night. It's unusual to see so many lights on. Camilla Ferrari hide caption

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Camilla Ferrari

Left: An Albert Einstein bust and bookshelf in the living room glow under the lamp light. Right: Self-portrait reflected in the window at night. It's unusual to see so many lights on.

Camilla Ferrari

Ferrari's partner, Fabio, checks his phone while lying in bed. Camilla Ferrari hide caption

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Camilla Ferrari

Ferrari's partner, Fabio, checks his phone while lying in bed.

Camilla Ferrari