Prohibitions, Pleasures, and Disasters: Entering the Online “Red zone” as an Experience of Digital Dark Tourism in Time of COVID-19


  • Felice Addeo University of Salerno, Italy
  • Gabriella Punziano University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  • Giuseppe Michele Padricelli University of Naples Federico II, Italy


On February 2020, the Sars-Cov-2 reached Europe striking in Northern Italy. On February 21st, the police began to set manned checkpoints around quarantined towns: Codogno, Vo’Euganeo, and other 9 municipalities near Lodi district borders were renamed as “zone rosse” (red zones), and heavy mobility restrictions were applied”. The situation consequently has shaped the social media discourse: Facebook groups originally describing the peaceful daily life of the red zone became privileged arenas to understand the lockdown experience. This paper aims at understanding if dark tourism activities, defined as tripping to «places that either witnessed or represent death, destruction, suffering, or calamity (McDaniel, K., 2018, p.2), took place on the Facebook pages of the red zone cities, by analyzing the online behaviors and the interactions of out-of-towner people who joined these groups at the beginning of the lockdown period. Research design adopts a Digital Ethnography approach usingunobtrusive techniques to test the paradigmatic application of digital methods. The results of our research aim to recreate the history of the action practiced through the Social Networks and will shed light on the culture and social implications of behaving and interacting online during an unforeseen event, like the COVD-19 pandemic.

Author Biographies

Felice Addeo, University of Salerno, Italy

PhD, is an Associate Professor in Social Research Methods at the University of Salerno, Department of Political and Communication Science, Italy. He is a methodologist with a wide experience in Social Science Research. Since 2017, he is the director of the Summer School in Social Research Methods ( held in Salerno, Italy.

He is also Independent Expert Reviewer for the European Commission General Directorate for Research and Innovation and Independent Evaluator for the European Commission Research Executive Agency. His current research interests are social research methods; epistemology, quantitative research, qualitative research and mixed methods, online research methods, netnography, sustainable development, social cohesion, migration studies.

Gabriella Punziano, University of Naples Federico II, Italy

PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Sociology and Methodology at the Department of Social Sciences of the University of Naples Federico II, Italy. Dr. Punziano is a scientific member of the Converge Covid 19 Working Groups for Public Health and Social Sciences Research, funded by the National science Foundation (NSF), where she focuses on risk Communication in Concurrent Disasters. She is also a member of the following working groups: The University Tourism Observatory; The Youth Observatory; The Digital Methods and Social Research group and others national and international research networks mainly focused on methodological developments. As a post-doc at the Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI) in L'Aquila (Italy), Dr. Punziano investigated how emergent groups contributed to the recovery efforts in the rebuilding of L’Aquila in the aftermath of the 2009 earthquake. Her research interests include: the methodology of social research, the new analytical frontiers and the challenges introduced by big data, mixed and integrated and digital perspectives; social policies and welfare regimes in relation to social inclusion, territorial cohesion and community integration; the analysis of public, institutional and political communication phenomena through innovative content analysis techniques; risk communication analysis on social and digital platforms.

Giuseppe Michele Padricelli, University of Naples Federico II, Italy

Graduated in International relations and in Social Science, is currently a PhD scholar in Social science and statistics at University of Naples Federico II.

His research interests regard the ethnographic approaches tied to new methods for the social research and the collective action in digital scenario, mainly focused on the relation between the organizational dynamics of social movements and new media sphere.


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