Wednesday, July 1 – Travelling Italy in the Time of COVID

By Alessia Martino TURIN, ITALY

Life feels normal again. Italy has allowed inter-regional travel since the 15th of June, and I got to experience first hand what that meant. It was a last-minute decision, and I found myself on a car ride to heaven, between fields and castles. I found myself traveling because I knew safety measures were in place, other than needing a breather. I have also have been abroad a lot, and this was the occasion to explore a piece of my own country.
The trip started with a safe car ride, with masked stops (as required by law) along the way. It continued with being far away from everything, capsuled within nature. I was in a place with beautiful flora and fauna. I loved all the sunsets. However, the point of going to a new place is also exploring.
One day we decided to go to an island on a lake in the next region. We got the earliest ferry to maximize the day time and to avoid crowds.

The ferry was empty, and the ride pleasant. Opposite to the one back, which was almost full. Either way, safety measures were in place. People are asked to be masked, weather they are seating inside or outside, and whether there are 1 or 20 people. Seats have been reduced to have physical distance – one seat between two cannot be used. The first step into the island and I got a cappuccino, then exploration began. There were three old churches, a beautiful main road, picnic tables to be used, and amazing views from top and angles. Lots of pheasants around made it even better. The number of people that came later didn’t disrupt anything, as there was enough place for all and more.

Another day, I walked one of the main towns. They reopened some museums and churches, which usually you have to pay a ticket fare for. However, as not everything is open and they couldn’t make people pay full price for ‘half of’ the experience, all tickets became temporarily free. I appreciated that and took full advantage of it. Once I took the free tickets, I put my mask on, and inside, I went. The funny part was after being greeted in, and the same person would radio another colleague saying ‘a girl is coming in and going up the stairs’. It’s the same procedure out. Kind of made feels important, although just standard procedure to keep numbers under control and prevent overcrowding. I was lucky because I got most rooms and pictures people-free as you never could normally. I maybe saw fewer things, but I also got the time to savor everything without rushing and probably in a better way. Less is more.

Other days I have also experienced going to the beach again. The first one had two sides, paid and free. Even the free one had distanced umbrellas. Beds were about 1.5 meters apart. Masks were asked when in the restaurant area. Other than that, going in and out of the water was pretty normal. There weren’t many people. The same day 20,000 people were assembled in Bournemouth beach in the UK. Measures and rules do make a difference, without having to be paranoid or anything. The second one had no umbrellas on the free side, but people were not many and distanced, while the paying one had strict rules. Distanced beds, mask in the communal area, had to order lunch before 12, and it was given as a takeaway bag. I guess they were trying to minimize contact with staff, but all the waste that this system creates concerns me. Restaurants, in general, are allowed to serve, waiters have masks on, and there are fewer tables. I have been to restaurants, and all seems to be working well. Going into the sea was just the same.

Therefore, although I predict that places will get busier, I think safe travel is possible. Of course, nobody can always be sure of anything, but isn’t that always? Should we stop living? I think with common sense, researching a place risk and rules in place, people can still have a non- stressful holiday and keep enjoying what life on this earth has to offer.