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Italy, photos of the empty cities that the coronavirus has left behind

The lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus has left cities eerily quiet. Across Italy, streets, squares and alleyways have been left deserted and with everyone at home, the emptiness is surreal.

If people really are the heart and soul of a city, what happens when they’re not there? What becomes of the streets, squares and hidden corners, the views of metropolises, towns and villages when once bustling and lively places are overcome by an eerie emptiness? On the 8th of March Italy officially became a protected zone, locked down to contain the novel coronavirus. Since then, its citizens have been asked to stay at home, avoiding all non-essential movement. Life in public places has been put on pause. Shutters have been lowered, offices closed, events cancelled. People have gone back into their homes, doing their bit to ensure that this moment passes as quickly as possible.

piazza san pietro, empty, covid-19
San Pietro Square, Vatican City © Marco di Lauro/Getty Images

Italy in lockdown, photos of deserted cities

Italy’s largest cities usually welcome hordes of tourists every day of the year, but now they look like empty stages pervaded by a surreal and quiet calm. San Marco Square lies empty, with no one sitting at the tables outside the Venetian restaurants and bars. Milan’s Central Station, one of the country’s busiest, feels strange without the bustle of commuters and travellers. San Pietro Square has lost its flock and universities their students. Each place is deprived of what gave it life. We’ve chosen these photos for a virtual tour of the cities that are fighting against the coronavirus, trying to resist the pandemic’s advance in the hope that soon, when the worst is over, their streets and squares will be filled with new energy and life.

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