Wednesday 18 of March 2020, 16:15.

Milan, Italy

From more than one week now the city of Milan, for the first time in its modern history, it’s under lockdown. Milan, in fact, has been the first big city in Europe and the second worldwide after Wuhan to be completely shut down.  The official lockdown started on the 8th of March when the national government declared Lombardy region and the area around of Milan as a Red Zone. 

The night of 8th of March, while the government was announcing the new strict measures an incredible amount of people reached the main train stations of the city, trying to escape with the last night trains in order to reach the South of Italy, spreading the contagion to the whole country. This massive escape was followed by a law that set the entire nation under lockdown.

The “Città Studi” neighbourhood may be considered the young soul of Milan, in fact, every day thousands and thousands of students coming from all over the world are populating its streets. Now, it is an urban desert.
March is one of the most active months of the university calendar, with graduations, exam and classes going on simultaneously. In March 2020 the situation in front of the Politecnico di Milano is the following: a sunny desert.

There are few visible movements around the city, and most of them are the ones of public transport. A key necessity for many. Despite all the other services being shut down, the municipality kept the public transport running at 75% of its power to help the workers to reach their workplaces and guarantee the fundamental services. 

One of the historical tram lines of Milan, usually crowded of tourist now running empty. Those trams have been serving the city since 1928, and fastly became a symbol of resistance and renaissance being able to survive at the war and at the darkest moments of the city. Now they are empty spectators of another challenging moment for humanity.
The metro stop of Piola, Politecnico – University, one of the busiest stops on the green line.

Among the others, two of the “fundamental” services that are still operating are supermarkets and delivery services. But all those delivery services, like the supermarkets, have been literally assaulted. Due to this alert status, in fact, all the delivery slots for the next two weeks are sold out and almost all the supermarkets’ shelves are empty. A demonstration of this dramatic situation is the fact that Amazon, well known for the optimization of its logistic, had to stop selling “not essentials goods”.

Pasta, potatoes and toilet paper were the first goods to disappear from the shelves. At the biggest supermarkets, the waiting time is longer than one hour, increasing day after day.
A rider of Glovo taking advantage of the empty metro line to fastly move his bike from one side to the other of the city. In order to be ready for another delivery.
Indeed, egoism was the first element to shine during social emergencies. With people running from the red area or simply taking as much as food as they could, with no respect for the others. 

Milan was the subject of a transformation, it went from being the economic centre of the country to the epicentre of a disaster. One of the city’s most important cores is now missing: its vitality. Today, when it is already 29/03/2020 nothing has changed. There are many hypotheses on how the situation will evolve, but still, not a clear vision for the next days, months and years. Once the great lockdown will be over and we will return to normality, how “normal” this will be?

Featured photo: Hope to come back to normality is what everybody’s asking for. Milan, Italy.

Photography and Writing by Giovanni Franco


Giovanni Franco is an Italian travel blogger and reportage photographer. In 2016 he started the project The Sustainable Tour with the goal to promote and raise awareness toward sustainable and smart tourism.

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