It can get tiresome reading constant news articles and blogs about quarantine and isolation.
The world has never been so connected by an event as we all hunker down in our homes waiting for the days when it is safe to come out again. While there is plenty of sad and depressing articles about missing our families and the ways our lives have changed, we’ve come across some pretty cool things we thought we’d share.
So, sit down and get ready to enjoy some quarantine content with a bit of a lighter feel.
The middle ages
Venice’s first experience with quarantine actually tracks all the way back to the middle ages! In fact, the word quarantine was first coined in Venice.
During the 14th century Venice wanted to protect its citizens from plagues that were potentially present on ships. To do so, they required all ships coming from ports that had been infected to anchor off the coast for forty days. The Italian for this quaranta giorni or quarantena saw the coining of the term quarantine.
Why Venice began to quarantine
As a port city, Venice was particularly vulnerable to the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death.
As such, they knew they needed to take significant action to prevent the spread of the disease at this time. Firstly, as previously noted, they forced all ships to anchor for forty days.
Secondly, the used the nearby islands of Lazzaretto Vecchio and Lazzaretto Nuovo to their advantage. In the mid-14th century, Venice was first hit by the plague and it wasn’t long until they had an ingenious idea.
All plague-stricken individuals were sent to Lazzaretto Vecchio for isolation and treatment. Meanwhile, Lazzaretto Nuovo was the landing place for ships with suspected sick passengers of crew. These two islands were effectively Venice’s public health response, and quite an impressive one given the time period!
The Venetian response to the Black Death is made even more impressive when you consider that they had no knowledge about how viruses spread. The understanding of how diseases spread wouldn’t be gained for another 400 years! You go Venice.
A little too late?
Venice went into official quarantine midway through the city’s famous Carnivale. While many people were angry that their expensive holidays were cut short, others were fuming that the event was not cancelled before it began.
Organisers argued that they cancelled the event as a public health precaution, while others suggested that cancelling midway through was like cancelling Christmas the day after, pointless.
Though there is some debate that the city was too slow to adopt quarantine restrictions, once they did lockdown, they did so well.
Venice Quarantine Today
Venice has held onto its early quarantine records for hundreds of years and locals are well aware of the story of the Lazzaretto islands.
Venice was among the first provinces to be ordered to quarantine by the Italian prime minister in March 2020. They are unable to leave the city unless they have work or health papers allowing them movement.
Though Venice has not revived their quarantine islands, though it would be interesting to see, they have done well in following strict quarantine protocol.
However, while the people of Venice are doing well at following the quarantine rules, others are using the empty streets as a way to gain clout.
Viral videos and the Venice quarantine
Since the world returned to their homes there has been a lot of positive environmental changes.
Air pollution across China and Europe have dropped significantly. This isn’t to be confused with the air having no pollution, however, it is unarguable that the reduction of car, bus and train use has seen a decrease in harmful chemicals in the air.
While the likelihood of the air staying clear when we return to normal life is very low, there are immediate benefits to the clearer air in Europe and China at the moment. Specifically, less pollutant particles in the air makes it harder for the virus to spread through the air. Some scientists have suggested the clearer air may have even saved thousands in China from exposure to the virus.
Even the canals in Venice are looking different. As there is no water traffic at this time, there is nothing disrupting the waterways. Finally, the sediment in the canals has been able to settle, making them appear clearer or “cleaner.”
However, not all the so-called benefits you’re seeing on the internet are true.
Dolphins in the canals
One of the most iconic viral videos of quarantine is the dolphins returning to the Venice canals. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen the video and sang praises for the benefits of quarantine.
However, they’ve been somewhat misled. And it wasn’t just them, news outlets across the world were fooled into believing the videos. They were used to promote a silver lining of the pandemic- the animals were bouncing back and returning to their habitats!
Wrong. You see, this viral video was filmed thousands of kilometres away at a port in Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea. Not in Venice, and definitely not in the Grand Canal.
But what about the swans?
While this video isn’t as misleading as the dolphin one was, a simple google would give you enough information to make an informed opinion.
Within the greater Venice metropolitan area is a small island named Burano. Swans frequently visit the island and are often found in the canals. They’re so regularly there that the swan video was also taken there. The swans weren’t returning, they never left!
Venice’s 2020 COVID-19 quarantine has gained a lot of media attention. From the fascinating history of quarantine in this port to the many fake viral videos Venice has been the feature of many quarantine story.
Venice has certainly been a source of entertainment for us all while we’ve been at home, but still, we cannot wait to be there in person again!
Related article: What to see in Venice?