Italy is still on lockdown in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 and while Italians sing from their balconies to keep each other strong, the streets of all major cities are deserted and tourists have disappeared - leaving place for nature to step back in.

A seagull in one of Venice's deserted streets
With Italy's streets left deserted by locals and tourists alike, animals are slowly stepping back in © Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images

The world-famous canals of Venice sparkle with unusually clear water, something that would be impossible with the high traffic of boats, vaporettos and gondolas that usually sail them and stir up sediment in the water.

The water is so clear you can see huge schools of fish swimming around, and swans, that have traditionally lived in the canals of Burano in the Venetian lagoon, are enjoying having the clear water of the Serenissima to themselves. 

But Venice is not the only Italian city seeing a return of nature into its streets.

Dolphins were seen swimming into the port of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, and in the island's second town, Sassari, wild boars (which are still pretty numerous all around Italy) have been seen scavenging for food in the empty streets, thanks to a lockdown of citizens and the absence of tourists. Ducks are also swimming in the fountains of Rome, something that has happened before, but that is of course helped by the fact that there’s no one around to disturb them.

Just as happened in China, pollution is down significantly in Italy since the beginning of the lockdown and the overall quality of the air has improved. The nation-wide isolating measures started on 9 March and will continue until 3 April.

Read more:

Lockdowns and travel bans: which countries have COVID-19 restrictions

France offers a moving tribute to COVID-19 frontline heroes

Explore related stories

Holiday travel in Arctic, Svalbard, Norway. People on the boat. Winter mountain with snow, blue glacier ice with sea in the foreground. Blue sky with white clouds. Snowy hill in ocean. Travel in sea.

Hiking

A first-time guide to Svalbard

Jul 13, 2024 • 10 min read