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Backstory, pt. 2: Emerging from Lockdown, Spring 2020

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

The first lockdown here in Italy was among the strictest in the world, with a ban against leaving your house for any reason except food, pharmacy or emergencies. They even had a ban on solo outdoor exercise so we weren't allowed to go hiking or take walks in the woods (which in retrospect is ridiculous!). It surprised the world to see that the Italians -- not generally known for their quick obedience -- generally fell into line and complied with the restrictions. We complied out of fear (of the illness, of the cops patrolling the city streets, and even of our neighbors who might espy you in the street from their balcony and yell out "what part of 'Stay Home' don't you understand?!" -- hence the nickname "balcony sheriffs" :-) ).

Tuscany was released on May 1st and people gradually emerged to reconnect with the city they hadn't been able to explore for 2 months. For me personally, I spent the lockdown gazing out over the rooftops in my neighborhood and across to the massive cupola of the Duomo (cathedral) in the distance. I knew the grand city of the Renaissance was out there but I couldn't touch it. And I could see the wooded hills where I normally take my hikes -- just a few hundred meters from where I stood on my balcony! -- that were off-limits to me now. So on that first day of freedom I had to decide where to go first: City or Woods? I chose the city. Here are some of my favorite photos from those first early days...

And God said, "Let there be masks..."
I have NEVER seen this normally bustling corridor empty!
Families came out on foot and by bike to embrace the city
Completely deserted backstreets
The beautiful interior of the San Miniato al Monte church
The huge Piazza della Signoria (City Hall square) was nearly empty

We opened up quite a bit over the summer and saw some tourists arrive from Europe and other parts of Italy, but by late September we were under greater restrictions again and we're still there... waiting...

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