Italians are beating the social isolation imposed by the country’s COVID-19 lockdown by taking to their windows and singing in unison, with videos of the phenomenon racking up thousands of views online.
Since Monday, a series of decrees from the Italian government have drastically limited citizens’ movements, with vast swathes of the economy shut down and people instructed to leave the house only when strictly necessary.
Italy has been struck by the worst European outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 17,000 cases and 1,266 deaths.
All cultural events have been suspended, prompting some celebrities to start organizing online performances and museums to put virtual tours online.
Another attempt to boost morale has come in the form of impromptu music at people’s windows. One recording in the Tuscan city of Siena has been viewed more than 600,000 times on Twitter.
In it, residents sing the traditional Canto della Verbena about the city from their windows, including a rousing verse with the words “long live our Siena!”
Italian singer Andrea Sannino posted a compilation on his Instagram feed of people singing his song Abbracciame (“Embrace Me”) at their windows in the southern city of Naples, his hometown.
“A day I will tell my children and grandchildren about,” the singer wrote, adding: “Thank you for making me cry floods of tears!”
In another video purportedly of an apartment building in the northern city of Turin, residents can be seen on their balconies trying to perform the Macarena, a Spanish dance song, in unison.
On Friday evening in several districts of Rome, music and singing could be heard coming from people’s windows, including renditions of the national anthem.
Another tune heard was Grazie Roma, a popular song from the 1990s, which includes the words: “Tell me what it is which makes us feel like we’re together, even when we’re apart.”
Another social media initiative has seen Italians put up signs outside their homes saying “Andra tutto bene,” or “Everything will be OK.”
The slogan is accompanied by a picture of a rainbow — often drawn by children at home as school is canceled.
The effects of the nationwide quarantine can already be measured in lower air pollution levels and falling nitrogen dioxide emissions, with the decline particularly evident in the northern region that entered lockdown ahead of the rest of the country.
The drop in pollution has been detected by the Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite, and researchers concluded that it was primarily the result of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities,” said Claus Zehner, the satellite’s mission manager at the European Space Agency.
The Copernicus Sentinel-5 satellite tracked nitrogen dioxide emissions across Europe from Jan. 1 to Wednesday, using a 10-day moving average.
Nitrous oxide accounts for 6 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to Rhodium Group, a research firm that produces annual estimates.
Most of that comes from agriculture, although fossil fuels use also contributes to the total.
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