FLORENCE — In March 2020, Italy became the first country in the West to be hit by the coronavirus. During the worst month, the mortality rate in Italy doubled, and today the country still mourns the more than 126,000 people killed by the pandemic, the sixth highest death count in the world.

Beyond the immediate health impact, Italy was also the first country in Europe to impose a strict nationwide lockdown to counter the spread of the virus. The quarantine forced schools, businesses and shops to close their doors.

About a month after restrictions were imposed, Italian photographer Simone Donati ventured outside to begin documenting his home city of Florence. Long known as a center of commerce, including the receipts from some 16 million tourists per year, Florence was virtually deserted. After a few days of shooting, Donati began to focus on simple images of closed storefronts — the series eventually was featured on the cover of Italian weekly magazine, L'Espresso.

One year later, as Florence and Italy slowly return to normal, Donati went back to the same shops he'd photographed shuttered down to see what he would find ...

Florence Storefront Photos: A Sign Of Our COVID Times


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