“Whatever the situation, you should never lose heart”: Balcony sports feats of quarantined Italians


THEY say boredom sparks creativity, and lockdown in Italy has been inspiring some imaginative solutions to the continuum of days at home. With strict measures preventing some 60 million Italians from leaving the house other than for essential reasons, some residents have found unusual ways to get their daily exercise.

Italians pioneered the balcony sing-a-long, and along with it a spate of dance flash mobs. Turin residents got together to dance the ever-popular Macarena, which even got featured on Sky’s social media.

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Another heartwarming video shows an elderly couple enjoying a dance together during a flash mob favouring the more classic Italian ballad as their music of choice.

Sports feats of a more serious nature have also taken places on balconies. In Padua, 45-year-old runner Gianluca di Meo decided to run the equivalent of a marathon on his 8.8 metre long balcony. Beginning at half past four in the morning, he ran for seven hours and completed over 6,000 laps of his balcony to reach the ”finish line.’

Incredibly, he didn’t stop there but continued on till 10 o’clock in the evening running a total of 100km. “This is not a balcony for me,” he said in an interview with Italian paper Corriere dello Sport, “I face it with the same spirit as other adventures in nature. Whatever the situation, you should never lose heart.” Di Meo is an athlete and winner of the 2017 Rovaniemi 150 km race in Lapland.

In nearby Venice, residents have clearly been missing rowing around their lagoon, as some residents have rigged up a system of elastic cords and an oar or stick on their balcony in order to continue their practice of the classic ‘voga veneta’ at home. In this style of rowing found in Venice, the oarsman remains standing.

Lucio Dolcetta, an 82-year-old, has been a member of a rowing club on the Lido for over 40 years. With a system of elastics and an oar made from the handle of a broom, he practises his rowing for half an hour a day. “I suffer a bit without it,” he told local paper La Nuova di Venezia, “but from my terrace I can see the lagoon and it consoles me.”


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