Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

Songs for Solidarity: Italians Unite through music from balconies, terraces and windows


“Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting, for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening.” – The late, great singer Aretha Franklin

For me, day 4 of Italy’s nationwide quarantine started like every other day since the news that the Coronavirus outbreak was going to cause a perpetual limbo in everyone’s life. Normally after waking up, the sounds that I normally am faced with include motorini furiously revving their engines, the echo of voices fading slowly up through my window and the comforting click of heels on cobblestones as people hurry to their work. 

Instead, because we were all asked remain inside, I heard something I almost never do after living so many years in the center – silence and well, a bit of birdsong.

If we were in the countryside this would be welcome, but here in the city, it is a reminder of the reality of just what is this new normal. The one where many of its residents have no work to go to, livelihoods at serious risk, and others in hospital emergency wards. Many of us wait until the dreaded hour of 6pm to see when the numbers are updated – the number of infected, deceased and those fully recovered. With the incubation period lasting so long – there is no expectation that just after a few days’ things can drastically change, but you can’t help but hope. But, we need to be more patient. I’m reminded constantly and take the time to remind myself that this too shall pass and we all must do our part despite the heavy limitations.

At home, our routine is as such. Coffee is made and Nico heads to our tiny second bedroom to begin his day of smart-working and I duly turn on my computer to do the same. Right now, the goal is to try to establish as normal as a routine as humanly possible. Lunch and dinner hour are respected, this plus of having nowhere to go is that it gives me motivation to cook, and we only leave the house to shop for groceries (one at a time) or on a (very quick) walk with the dog for bathroom breaks. 

I try to share as much as I can on social media, this blog, and Italy Magazine in regards to helping local businesses stay afloat from a distance. In my opinion the true power of “influence” in a time like this is best utilized to help people who want to know how to help. Equally as important is raising one’s spirits while at the same time acknowledging that this is very, very real and not sugar-coating the effects it is having on a massive portion of the population.

That being said, to me, the current reality is far from chaos. There is a sense of peace knowing that everyone else is doing this too. A community banding together and trusting that the government has stepped up and made these difficult decisions based on behalf of the health of its citizens.

Staying home and listening to the news, there is a quiet acceptance that these enormous sacrifices are for the health of all. Consequentially, it has also brought about a sort of patriotism that I’ve really never seen here, with the exception of the 2006 World Cup win (that was pretty cool). It certainly feels as if we are living within a moment of history.

People are encouraging one another to do the right thing, the message being stay at home, and at the same time many are eager to help – whether it be volunteer for the red cross to deliver those in need (our large elderly population and those who have existing health problems) food and medicine or help a small businesses survive by buying their books/wine, Made-in-Products. I appreciate the quarantine diaries that keep it real like this one of Eva on Medium and Michelle in Milan

There are GoFundMe efforts for hospitals all over the country and volunteer efforts. Friends are arranging digital aperitivi (happy hours) on video chat providing a refreshing grid of laughter and comfort during a time when keeping each other company seems more important than anything else. Friends have started youtube channels and kids have created banners to hang outside of their windows with rainbows with the slogan ““Andrà tutto bene” everything will be all right.

In addition to those efforts, I was delighted to see the news from a friend that there was talk of a movement regarding a musical flashmob that evening around Italy.

At 6pm on Friday the 13th, Italians were invited to go to their windows, balconies and terraces in a show of solidarity and play music (whatever they like) for 15 minutes. At 6pm, if you were in Italy, you could have heard the national anthem, traditional music from Puglia, The song Shallow played to the Duomo, a one man band by my friend Scott, or the piano tunes a la Nico (which you can see on my Facebook Page).

The concept that music can be healing is nothing new, more than 400 years ago William Shakespeare said that “music can raze out the written troubles of the brain” Elton John has said “Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.”

He couldn’t have been more right.

I was truly touched to see/hear all of the music that came from all over Italy and hence decided that this was something everyone needs to feel right now. In honour of that, here are some of the videos and links of what emerged from the musical cacophony that made this Friday the 13th one to remember.










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7 Responses

  1. thanks so much for this, georgette!! it’s brilliant. i don’t do social media, so you have pulled together so many wonderful bits for me. on our street in florence, we applauded at noon. my neighbors called to me that tonight we will sing azzurro together. heck, i’m an american. this american sure doesn’t know azzurro! but mark and i have been learning it all afternoon. we’ll do ok – with a lyrics sheet – tonight. love to you and nico and the puppy dog. xoxo

  2. Thank you for these posts! I love Italy (it’s where both sides of my family is from) and I adored returning there last November. Thank you for spreading some hope and optimism in this time of sadness and uncertainty!

  3. Thank you for the post this morning. Your beautiful and uplifting videos of the kindnesses, solidarity, resilience and patriotism of the Italian people in an incredibly bleak time is an inspiring and uplifting touch in a challenging time facing our own country. I can only hope that we will meet the challenge with the courage and aplomb that is so beautifully displayed by the citizens of Italy.

  4. Amazing post, it brings me to tears to see my home country facing these hard times but these videos remind me that we never give up. I wish I was home in Florence with my family right now, living far from home is not easy, especially now.
    xx Ambra

  5. Thanks for posting this out! Amazing post and a great read! They are so wonderful photo and video. Thanks for sharing your information.

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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