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Coronavirus in Italy: Scenes from the Eye of the Storm

Excerpt from the article in Vanity Fair - 


In March, as the coronavirus continued to spread across Italy, authorities announced they would place the entire country in lockdown. At the time, Italian-born photographer Alex Majoli was doing an artist residency near Codogno, one of the epicenters of the pandemic. He decided to head south, where he has a home, intending to chronicle the impact of the virus on the people of Sicily. “I was born in the north, Ravenna,” says Majoli, who also maintains an apartment in Brooklyn. “Up north, people are good at masking their anguish. But in Sicily, everything is always more theatrical, more epic. They feel sorrow more deeply, more philosophically, because their worldview is a couple of centuries behind. In Sicily, I realized, I’d see more of a visual sense of this tragedy.”


Back north, morgues were overflowing. Hospitals, notes Majoli, “stopped taking any non-emergency patients. It was all coronavirus.” Soon the south absorbed an estimated 30,000 Italians who had fled the stricken north, some of whom had brought the contagion with them. As the nation’s fatalities climbed into the thousands, eclipsing China’s death toll, Majoli saw a Sicily rocked by the same tremors he’d witnessed near Codogno. People were forced to remain indoors. Cemeteries were shut to keep people from congregating there. Funerals were banned lest mourners come in contact with the families of the deceased—or with one another.