Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
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Italy honours its doctors with midday applause

Italians take to their balconies at midday to honour their doctors, nurses and healthcare workers battling the country's Coronavirus emergency.

Italy's impromptu singalongs are making world headlines as quarantined Italians rally together from their balconies in songs of hope and solidarity in the face of the deadly Coronavirus.

These marvellous events, centred around the slogan Andrà tutto bene (Everything will be all right), have taken place in towns and cities across Italy on recent nights.

The uplifting movement saw widespread participation in Rome yesterday evening, where adults and children took to their windows to wave at each other, play music and sing, swapping fear for hope.

Many joined in rousing renditions of the national anthem, some played the guitar or the trumpet or shook maracas; there was even a performance of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.

Children banged pots and pans. There were air horns aplenty. Dogs across Italy played their part enthusiastically.

In the Aventino area of the capital neighbours cheered on a gentleman with a karaoke machine doing his best to belt out nostalgic Roman classics such as Grazie Roma and Roma Capoccia.

Spurred on by this success, there are now growing requests for cooped-up Italians to come together again at noon today, Saturday, to let a round of applause ring out through the deserted streets up and down the country.

In addition to serving as a reminder of "everything that each of us is doing for the nation", organisers say the applause is devoted in particular to Italy's healthcare workers who are serving on the frontline.

Aside from the balcony singalongs there are other plans too. One of the more creative ideas comes from Naples, a city renowned for its ingenuity.

The title of the initiative Anche a casa Napoli non si spegne, translates literally as "Even at home Naples doesn't switch off." However it has a higher meaning too: Naples doesn't give in, Naples won't be snuffed out, the city's spirit won't be broken.

The 'home flash mob' involves residents in alternating neighbourhoods turning on and off their lights for two minutes at a time, between 20.00 and 20.30 tonight.

Inspired by Italo Calvino's lines: "Take life lightly, for lightness is not superficial, but gliding above things, not having weights on your heart", organisers say the idea is designed to "give an imaginary astronaut the spectacle of a wonderful game."

Children in Italy have played a central role in the movement, displaying their rainbow paintings outside the family home and delighting in a rousing break from the monotony of being stuck at home.

Italy's balcony festivities are expected to last for the duration of the quarantine and will likely become more lively as the nights and days wear on. The next session begins tonight, at 18.00.

In the meantime, for those of you in Italy, stick your head out at midday and join the standing ovation in gratitude to the doctors and nurses - Italy's saints and heroes - who are risking their lives to save others.

By Andy Devane

Photo credit: Anastasia Vereftenko / Shutterstock.com

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