Streets have been eerily quiet across Italian towns and cities, particularly at night, under the new restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus situation.
The city went under coronavirus lockdown Monday night, and rules were tightened Wednesday to a degree harsher than that of during World War II.
"Soon after, piazzas that echoed laughter and the barking of dogs went silent. Tourists disappeared. Museums, restaurants, churches, archaeological sites, schools, cinemas, coffee bars – all closed."
"Sporting events canceled. Weddings and funerals outlawed. Nobody can leave their homes without a signed document saying they know the risks they are taking by being out. People who pass in the streets look down and give each other a wide berth. Rome is no longer Rome," Eric J. Lyman wrote his experience in Rome to USA Today.
With nearly 15,000 patients and another 250 dead in a single day, the situation may worsen. Over the weekend, there could be a boom in coronavirus infections due to the "gathering effect" of last weekend, before the restrictive measures for the whole country came into force, reported La Stampa.
The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi signed the ordinance for the closure of city parks. Milan also adopted this choice on Friday morning. It is a way to prevent contagion in green areas which are crowded these days, reported Il Messaggero.
The ordinance list includes all the fenced green areas. Villa Pamphili, Villa Lazzaroni, Villa Sciarra, the Esquiline park. Villa Borghese will instead be manned by traffic police because it is not fenced.
The decision in Campidoglio came about Friday morning after the informal report by the city police who yesterday recorded dangerous gatherings in the parks and villas of Rome that could favor the infection of the virus.
Fundraisers and banners
On Thursday, many families with children home from school made banners bearing the phrase andrà tutto bene (everything will be alright) and hung them from windows and balconies.
Other efforts have focused on fundraising, particularly to support hospitals in southern Italy who are now racing against time to prepare for potential outbreaks in poorer regions.
One appeal to fund equipment for a hospital in Sicily had raised more than 50,000 on Friday, reported The Local.
"We want to do something truly effective to help the Sant'Antonio Abate hospital in Trapani," wrote the organisers, who specified that funds raised would be used to buy ventilators for the hospital and, if they raise enough, "other equipment such as masks, gloves and protective medical suits."
Choirs and songs on the balconies
The balconies in the locked down cities hymned together on Friday at 6pm. From Naples to Milan, many responded to a sound flashmob launched on Facebook by the Capitoline street band FanfaRoma.
More than 23,000 people signed up to participate on the band's Facebook page, reported Ansa.
The band encouraged, "We open the windows, go out on the balcony and play together, even if far away ... so our country will become a gigantic free concert."
Their spirit "Let's sing a song all together, let us feel that we are a community even if we cannot touch each other" encouraged Italians to play instruments and sing to "cheer the city up" amidst the coronavirus emergency.
The event went viral in hours, multiplied in photos, posts and videos on social media.