Writer’s Guilt: the irony of going viral in a pandemic.

Reporting from Italy in February and March 2020, I was one of the first people on Medium to write about Covid. Three years on, here’s how I feel about it all.

Fiona Cameron Lister
14 min readMar 28, 2023


Image: Pixabay

Three years ago, I watched from my balcony in central Florence as the unthinkable happened and the lively, vibrant, 24/7 city was silenced as Italy became the first European country, and the second in the world after China, to lock down.

I had lived part-time in Florence since 2017, new wife of the chaplain of the Anglican church. One of the first things my husband said to me as I began my four-year stint of three weeks in Florence, two weeks at my house 30 miles away in the Italian countryside, was that Florence was busy. Really, really busy. He warned I might have trouble sleeping as the Renaissance palazzo housing the church and our apartment was smack bang in the historic centre and the noisy buzz of humanity was a constant sound track, punctuated by the sounds of the city’s relentless cleaning crews who work day and night to keep the streets pristine and the famous sights event-ready.

It was true, Florence was never silent. The hum wasn’t ever threatening or annoying, but it was always there, as were the people causing it. I used to joke that it was impossible to walk in a straight line in the city as the relentless tide of tourists surged and flowed, groups led by umbrella-carrying tour guides insinuating their way through every picturesque alleyway and gasp-inducing photogenic piazza.

A typical scene in busy Florence where it’s hard to walk in a straight line. Image: Michelle Raponi, Pixabay.

When it all stopped, it was quite terrifying.

The first article

Being a writer, I knew I needed to record this surreal experience. I was literally in the right place at the right time with the only story people wanted to hear about, from a place that was at least a couple of weeks, if not a month, ahead of the curve in terms of the Covid experience.

I had the uneasy feeling that the greatest danger was fear and that the powers that be were manipulating…



Fiona Cameron Lister

Experienced British writer/editor/mentor in Italy | MWC semi-finalist| Loves words, history, humour, unusual subjects| Contact: fcameronlister@gmail.com