Everyone in Italy has felt the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For Adam Rugnetta, an American teacher living in Milan, they've shaped his life for much of the past year.
As an author and illustrator, one of the ways he found to process the situation was to draw – at least the first time round.
“I was able to weather the first lockdown because I was writing my book, Beyond Choice. So while I was saddened for the suffering, inside my home everything was going well,” he tells The Local.
“This lockdown, however, things seemed darker. The American election, the second wave, the Covid burnout was getting me down.”
Milan lies in one of Italy's 'red zones': high-risk regions under maximum restrictions, with only essential travel permitted, most shops and restaurants closed and schooling moved online.
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Seeing infection rates and death tolls climb again, then returning to lockdown after months of relative freedom, has been tough.
“I was starting to sink, so I decided to inspire myself,” Rugnetta says.
With individual exercise one of the few outdoor activities still permitted, he has been using his runs around Milan to break the monotony and observe the city. On one recent outing, he was struck by an argument near the Navigli, the famous canals lined with bars and restaurants that are currently forbidden from serving customers.
“I was sitting there listening to chill-out music from a takeout place while guys were preparing to murder each other. The irony of the moment and the fact that I could see it clearly made me think it was time to start cartooning again,” he says.
“Luckily, it worked. Running and cartooning brightened my days. This project, along with some better news, are making me really feel the light at the end of the tunnel.”
See the illustrated version of the story:
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Adam Rugnetta is a teacher and author living in Milan. You can find more of his work on his website, on Twitter and on Instagram. His graphic novel, Beyond Choice, is available to buy online.
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