Under lockdown, it's clearer than ever that the culture we consume on a daily basis is a vital part of our lives. What we listen to, read, watch, and create in these confined times is the mental food that keeps us joyful.
One can only refresh the news headlines and worry for so long; soon you have to find other ways to entertain yourself.
Luckily for us, Italy’s cultural institutions have been generous with the public, providing a multitude of offers and initiatives under the hashtag #laculturanonsiferma (culture can’t be stopped), launched to encourage residents to stay home and aid the efforts to counter the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Here we’ve gathered together some of the best offers being run in Italy to enjoy online during your quarantine.
One of the most exciting offers during this period of quarantine has to be the generosity of Condé Nast Italia. With a special code you can download digital versions of all Condé Nast Italia publications for the next three months, as well as access the entire Vogue Italia archives free of charge. The titles include everything from Italian GQ to a cooking course.
Speaking of digital editions, if you’ve got an e-reader or kindle, buckle up as you’ve got a whole new world of possibilities. Many Italian publishing houses including Adelphi are offering free ebooks in exchange for signing up to their newsletters. Mondadori is also giving three months complimentary access to its magazines, including titles such as Grazia, Icon Design, and Focus Junior, to those in the worst-hit red zones.
Photo: Aliis Sinisalu/Unsplash
It’s also worth checking what your local library is doing to counter the lockdown as libraries in Milan and Bologna have opened up their online databases filled with free ebooks and publications for all to read.
When you grow tired of Netflix and daytime TV, why not mix up your cinema evenings by perusing the archives of Milan’s Cineteca? Just by registering with an email you can now access the hundreds of classic Italian films for free via their website.
If you’d prefer an edited selection, why not explore the more recent films which have been specially released by the Ischia film festival on their site.
If you’d rather try and immerse yourself in some ‘live’ performances, the Rossini Opera Festival is streaming recordings of past productions on its website.
Many theatres around the country have followed suit, including the Teatro Stabile which has launched “A season on the sofa” and Venice’s Teatro Fenice which is steadily curating content on its Youtube channel of clips from past productions as well as behind-the-scenes footage.
Several art galleries are running free online commentaries by art experts and curators on their cancelled and postponed exhibitions.
La Triennale in Milan have even drawn inspiration from Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, in which those who escaped the plague in Florence in 1348 told stories to pass the time. Their digital version sees a different creative invited to share a personal story every day at 5pm.
You’ll also find a wealth of readings online by celebrities including actor Lino Guanciale who is taking it upon himself to read Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees in instalments throughout quarantine under the hashtag #ioleggoacasa (I read at home) on social media.
Oggi si torna in scena… ehm… in diretta Instagram!
Vi aspetto dalle 18:30 per il secondo capitolo del Barone Rampante. #iorestoacasa #ioleggoacasa #laculturanonsiferma #baronirampanti #andràtuttobene pic.twitter.com/l65GtMR5SG
— Lino Guanciale (@LinoGuanciale) March 18, 2020
Many Italian musicians, from Gianna Nannini to Fedez, have taken it upon themselves to present live concerts to fans via their social media. Following the hashtag #IoSuonoDaCasa (I sing at home) uncovers its own kind of treasure trove.
Also if you’ve been listening to your neighbours singing Italian classics at 6pm remember we'e got the offical list of top balcony hits here on The Local, and it's certainly worth studying up on.
You can find a comprehensive list of all the museums in Italy taking part in a variety of dynamic ways to keep their (virtual) doors open via the website of the Italian Ministry of culture and tourism (MiBACT).
A few favourite initiatives to note are the #PoldiPezzoliStories in which the museum director talks us through selected works of art via a series of Instagram videos and lives, and Bologna’s Museum of Modern Art (MAMbo) who have launched a series called “2 minutes of Mambo” in which a video a day is released on their channels from Tuesday to Sunday from a different creative figure.
Virtual tours are also available for numerous institutions, ranging from the Uffizi gallery in Florence to Venice’s Palazzo Ducale.
There’s also a huge selection of images and online exhibitions available for free thanks to Google Arts where most Italian museums and galleries have rich and immersive profiles to explore.
And in English…
There’s already a movement in the English-speaking world for similar initiatives, and no doubt as the situation develops in other countries more online cultural resources will appear worldwide.