“Here in Bergamo tonight, there is the Italy that has suffered, that has been wounded, that has wept,” Mattarella told a solemn gathering of mayors from across the province on Sunday evening.
Outside Bergamo's cemetery, which at the height of the pandemic was so full that army trucks had to carry bodies out of the region to be cremated, a face-masked orchestra played the requiem funeral mass written by Bergamo-born composer Gaetano Donizetti.
“Remembering means first of all commemorating our dead, and also becoming fully aware of what happened,” said Mattarella.
“Remembering means reflecting, seriously and with rigorous precision, on what didn't work, on the shortcomings of the system and the mistakes to avoid repeating.”
President Sergio Mattarella addresses the ceremony. Photo: Office of the Italian President
The president also called for commemoration of “the extraordinary willingness and humanity” of doctors, nurses, civil protection crews and others, some of whom were in the audience.
The guests included 243 mayors, health workers and people who lost loved ones to the coronavirus, including some of the relatives who have filed a legal complaint in Bergamo over the official handling of the emergency.
More than 6,000 people died in Bergamo province since its first case was reported in February, many of them without the opportunity for a funeral.
“Today Bergamo represents the whole of Italy, the heart of the republic, which bows down before the thousands of women and men killed by a illness that is still largely unknown and continues to threaten the world,” said Mattarella.