At-Home Activities during the Coronavirus Crisis

A scene from Quantum, a silent film with English subtitles is one of many available in streaming through Lo Schermo dell’arte

Nearly everyone is home to combat the spread of Coronavirus also thanks to the latest decree shutting many factories.  There are, however, plenty of cultural initiatives and activities for kids to spend the time safely at home.  The following is a guide.


A showcase for international feature length documentaries as well as short films that cover a variety of subjects (with Italian and English subtitles when needed), Florence’s annual Festival dei Popoli is showing one movie a day from its vast archive amassed during its 60-year history on its Facebook and Instagram accounts: @festivaldeipopoli.

Villa Romana, home to young artists on fellowship from around the world, is offering a movie every Wednesday that plays for an entire week.  To receive info on the initiative, send an email to

Lo Schermo dell’arte film festival, an international project based in Florence exploring the relationship between contemporary art and cinema, has responded to Italy’s restrictions on cultural life by streaming several European artist films from their archive for free in a partnership with the platform MYmovies. Taking place in November every year since 2008, Lo Schermo dell’arte Film Festival has championed films either by artists or about art.

Until April 3, the movies will be made available to watch on MYmovie’s website. The offerings are an eclectic range catering to all tastes: feature-lengths and shorts, arthouse and documentary mainly comprising works of Italian, British, French and German origin (all with English and Italian subtitles). Artists involved include Alterazioni Video, Phil Collins, Jordi Colomer, Jeremy Deller, Rä di Martino, Rebecca Digne, Omer Fast, Flatform, Alfredo Jaar, Adrian Paci, Martina Melilli and Luca Trevisani.

Notable films include Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992. Conceptual artist Jeremy Deller places acid house and rave culture at the centre of the large-scale social changes that took place in the United Kingdom throughout the 1980s and into the early ‘90s. Rare and unseen footage depicts a youthful, nocturnal movement challenging the status quo and dreaming of a new, harmonious world in the post-industrial era.

Another choice is The Show MAS Go On (Rä di Martino, Italy 2014, 30)’.  This is Martino’s ironic take from the shop floor of department store colossus MAS (Magazzini allo Statuto) after news of its imminent closure.  (will farnham)


Now that all schools in Italy have been shut for several weeks, parents and kids can be getting bored, losing patience, bickering, and searching for things to do to remedy the situation.  Last week parks were a possibility, but now they are inaccessible, and grandparents are similarly off-limits.

MUS.E and Palazzo Vecchio have published material for children to enjoy whilst schools remain closed. MUS.E have uploaded videos in Italian from inside the Palazzo Vecchio in which they lead colorful painting tutorials, as well as stories for kids to listen to before bed.  The tale of the “turtle and the sail” is also free to listen to – complete with a puppet turtle and bright illustrations, the tale is similar to that of “the tortoise and the hare” and embodies the Latin motto the Medici family adopted, “Hurry slowly.” As the turtle was also a symbol of the Medici family, this allows Florentine children to see how this popular fable is intertwined with the history of their city. To access the videos, visit the MuseFirenze Facebook page and Twitter account (@musefirenze).

Many parents, rightfully concerned about too much screen time, try limiting the number of video games played, but screen time can be educational as well as unite families in observing nature.  Imagine watching the progress of a nesting eagle waiting for the eggs to hatch.  To see eagles, gorillas, puffins in their daily activities as well as Alaskan grizzly bears catching salmon, look for

The Philadelphia Zoo is close during the virus outbreak, but one can still watch penguins on the Penguin Point webcam. The Smithsonian Institute’s web cameras are some of the most famous in the world; tune and watch lions, elephants and pandas.

See otters, tropical fish in a coral reef and even sharks in action at the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, by visiting the website. (rita kungel & alfie king)   


The region’s cultural institutions have organized in the meantime to continue their activities for the public in a safe manner, with singing from the balconies, streaming of concerts, virtual visits of the Uffizi and Pitti’s vast art collections, movie streaming and home delivery of books.


With all of Florence’s museums currently off-limits, the management of the Uffizi Gallery, the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens has come up with a creative way of bringing one of the world’s most prestigious art collections to a visitor’s home.  These daily installments are designed to help pass the time during the Coronavirus emergency.  The slogan of the initiative is “even staying home is an art.”

On the museum’s Facebook page, GallerieUffizi (@UffiziGalleries), a video series “La mia sala,” is available in Italian. Viewers will experience a guided tour of a section of the museum by a curator, presented as a short story.  On the Uffizi Gallery Instagram account (@uffizigalleries) a different work of art is posted daily, accompanied by an extensive explanation of the piece that focuses on little known facts and interesting details both in English and Italian.

The @UffiziGalleries Twitter account is mainly in Italian with an occasional phrase in English.  One post cites the lyrics of a song by the Italian rapper Rancore, “Se sai quant’è bello ciò che aspetti, è bella anche la sua attesa” (If you know what you are waiting for is beautiful, even the wait is good”).  The singer’s words are illustrated by an evocative painting of a man in the shadows holding a torch, aptly named “L’attesa” (Waiting) by artist Torello Ancillotti (1843-1899).  (rosanna cirigliano)


Many businesses are turning to home delivery as a means of keeping things running; one example of this is Florence’s Anglo-American bookshop, the Paperback Exchange on via delle Oche.  The store is delivering books to addresses within the city limits. Facebook, Instagram and email will be the platforms used in order to give people the option to see and “browse” the shop’s shelves and where orders can be placed.


Although live professional concerts have stopped, the music will go on.  Florence’s Teatro del Maggio, not wanting to deprive listeners of entertainment, offers classical music to all from their archives on Facebook (@maggiomusicale).

March 26 (8 pm): the evening brings an opera production, Il Farnace, by Antonio Vivaldi under the direction of Federico Maria Sardelli.

March 27 (8 pm): the audience will be treated to a staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo with the Maggio Musicale Orchestra conducted by Zubin Metha.