A Filmmaker’s Eerie Homage to an Empty Rome

This is Day 16 of lockdown in Italy and we are feeling worn down by the constant bad news from all over the world, but particularly here. We are comforted to see more people in more countries taking this seriously but we are also horrified by the number of cases and deaths that seems to rise relentlessly. 

Italian residents are still permitted to leave their homes for food and medicine in most areas – and only so long as you have not tested positive for the virus – but I don’t like to. 

I don’t like to go out, even though I need the Vitamin D and the fresh supplies, because when I walk down the streets of our own neighborhood I see that everything I love about Italy has been hidden away. Stores are closed, people avoid each other on the streets, and there is a feeling of the surreal slowly becoming the terribly mundane: masks, gloves, and avoided eye contact as we roam the empty streets.

“Madonna! Look what we have become!” A woman called out to me as we gave each other wide berth on the sidewalk the other day. 

I found this video by filmmaker Mo Scarpelli for the New Yorker hard to watch. This is not the Rome of monuments and art, this is the Rome of my daily life. These are the streets we usually have to dart across while traffic swerves as we undertake what used to the normalcy of our days. Taking the tram to meet a friend for pizza, walking through the piazza on the way to work, going to the alimentari (food shop). 

Only now, these are set to silence and sirens. However, the most touching footage is for me was seeing that there are still guards standing at the flame that marks the tomb of the unknown soldier, even as Piazza Venezia is empty of traffic and the gates to the Vittoriano are closed.

Quanto mi manchi Roma mia.


2 thoughts on “A Filmmaker’s Eerie Homage to an Empty Rome

  1. JAMES MARIANI says:

    ten years of delivering the eternity of our civilization in a way only YOU can. The insight is so amazing. grazie mille from someone who spent his sophomore year on Monte Mario in 70-71.

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