Italy has been ravaged by the coronavirus, but residents of one of the country’s most famous cities have managed to find a silver lining.
Ever-resilient Italians in Venice are looking to the city’s canals, which have turned crystal clear since boat traffic was halted due to the coronavirus.
One person on Twitter shared images of near-pristine waterways, where fish and swan are enjoying the respite from cargo boats, cruise ships and tourist gondolas.
“Here’s an unexpected side effect of the pandemic — the water’s flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned,” they wrote, alongside images taken in Burano, an island in the northern Venetian Lagoon. The tweet shared Tuesday has already garnered over 900,000 likes so far.
Photos taken Tuesday by the news agency Agence France-Presse also depict less dismal waterways.
The office of Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro was quick to note that marine life in the canal isn’t anything new.
“The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom,” a spokesman told CNN. “It’s because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface.”
Despite human devastation, studies have already shown that the coronavirus has had a positive impact on the environment across the globe. Along with the cleansing of Venice’s canals, the air over Italy has similarly purified due to slowing emissions from power plants, cars and other industrial sources, according to new data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel-5p satellite.
In a heartwarming show of camaraderie last week, locked down Italians in Siena opened their windows and burst into a spontaneous chorus led by one man singing old folk songs. And in Turin, a neighborhood weary of being cooped up in their apartments, raised a toast and partied together — each in their own apartments — as one resident blasted music and pointed a strobe light out their window.
With some 31,500 cases of the coronavirus and more than 2,500 deaths caused by it, Italy has become the second hardest-hit country by the pandemic next to China, a country with more than 20 times the population. The acute impact of COVID-19 on the Mediterranean nation has been made worse by the fact that more than one-fifth of their population is over the age of 65, and at a higher risk for complications.