by Melinda Gallo

Returning to the lockdown in Florence

I only left Florence for a few days to celebrate my beloved’s birthday in Germany. The streets of Florence had grown quiet as many tourists and foreign students departed from the city daily. On Monday, the night before I was to return to Florence, Italy announced a lockdown until April 3rd.

Living in Florence :: Returning to the lockdown in Florence

I feared my flight would be canceled and I wouldn’t be able to return to Florence. Some people told me I was crazy to return, but I couldn’t not return home. The man at the check-in counter didn’t reassure me by saying that my flight from Paris to Florence could get canceled.

Fortunately, I returned in the early evening Tuesday and took the tram downtown. I dragged my luggage behind me through the quiet streets, past the Duomo and then to my apartment. The only noise I heard was the wheels of my suitcase rattling on the stone pavement and sidewalk. I didn’t understand the severity of the situation until one man darted out into the street to distance himself a few extra meters from me.

It was startling to see only a handful of people walking around and almost as many police cars passed me by within a matter of a few minutes at 8 pm. I've walked to the tram station at 5 am before to catch flights and rarely saw any police cars.

On Wednesday, I had to walk to San Niccolò for an appointment. I was worried the police would stop me, but then noticed other people strolling along the Arno and soaking up the sun in a garden across the river near Ponte San Niccolò. Later, when I walked to Piazza della Signoria, I was surprised to see people sitting on terraces eating and drinking. I wondered how that played into the lockdown, but that night, the restrictions became even stricter and all the restaurants, bars, and cafés closed their doors.

Yesterday and today were quite sobering. Even fewer people were outside, and more shops were closed. 

It is odd to think that just a few days ago, I could walk around Italy freely, almost not even caring about the pandemic. It was the main topic on everyone’s mind, but most of us put our focus on improving our personal hygiene and boosting our immune systems.

I wouldn’t leave Florence (and now that’s impossible because the airport is closed) regardless of the situation. My beloved city has always stood by me, guided me, supported me, and loved me. And it’s an honor for me to be back in my beloved city’s embrace to support and love her.

Note: I took the photo included here a few weeks ago.

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