Buongiorno! I’m Emily Schiavone, CEA’s Center Director in Florence, Italy. Just like in other places around the world, we’re experiencing an atypical summer this year. Italy was hit hard by the coronavirus and imposed Europe’s first lockdown measures in early March while the world watched and took notes.
Italy started slowly reopening on May 11th. As an American in Italy for over 15 years, I never would have thought the Italians could be able to keep from touching one another, kissing one another in greeting, and being close-talkers who love to spend time together with little regard for personal space. But they have proven me wrong, and Florentines in particular are very strict about precautions: wearing masks, socially distancing, sanitizing…
Florence--and the region of Tuscany overall--did not particularly suffer because of the virus, but rather by the consequences of lockdown. The city and its region earn so much of its wealth through tourism of all sorts.
I have never experienced Florence like this--open and crowd-less. If you close your eyes and just listen to the city sounds, downtown Florence becomes a small town, with individual voices that can easily be heard, and no real city hum. Many Florentines are doing their best to reopen, knowing that their costs and gains will be imbalanced, but they feel they have a duty to themselves, their fellow Italians, and especially to their employees to keep on going for as long as they can.
We are sure that 2020 will be a catalyst of change in many ways for Florence, but the city still holds on to its treasures and has many old and new lessons to offer its visiting students.
From all of us at CEA Florence, we wish you and your students safety and health. And we can’t wait to welcome you back to our beautiful city again!