"One day fear knocked on the door. Courage rose and went to open, and saw there was no one there.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
All over the world today, people are almost exclusively talking about the Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) and Italy is right smack in the center of the attention.
As of the evening of March 9th, 2020, our Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte declared Italy a “zona protetta” (protected area), which means, residents are told to stay home and avoid social interaction unless absolutely necessary. Flights have been suspended, museums closed, all festivities and sporting events have been rescheduled.
As you can imagine, “staying home” is not something Italians do well, so this is truly a frustrating and unsettling situation in homes all around the country. No more Aperitivo with friends, no more gelato in the Piazza, no more pizza on Saturday night… Needless to say, for most Italians this is not just a health concern, but, for a lack of better words, a state of “social imprisonment”.
On this side of the pond, it’s another story.
We are all holding our breath in this unprecedented situation, but unfortunately, those of us who have imminent travel plans are experiencing an added level of stress and nervousness.
I know what it feels like to get excited to go on a trip you’ve been waiting a long time for, and the anticipation leading up to it is just as much of the fun itself. It is more than disappointing to have to change travel plans and the uncertainty is what makes it even worse.
One thing is for sure: no matter how you look at it, this is challenging for all of us.
At Nada’s Italy, we’ve been carefully listening and learning directly from our resources on the ground. We are in constant contact with our team of Journey Directors, associates, vendors, and of course, our own family and friends in Italy.
As things are changing hour-by-hour, I would like to reassure you all that I continue to monitor this delicate and unusual circumstance very closely in order to make the best, safest, educated decision for our clients and staff.
Nada’s Italy is a 5-star rated Company and has an outstanding reputation in the travel industry. Our priority has always been to not only keep clients safe, but to also deliver on our promise of an extraordinary travel experience. We are here to answer questions and remain alert to any changes in travel notices.
Fortunately, we have not received many cancellations so far and, to soothe the worries of travelers who are not comfortable traveling in the next few weeks and months, we have made things easy by rescheduling their trip plans to a later date.
We’ve added tours later this year as well as early next year, to give our clients more options.
We are still very busy taking registrations for 2021, which, also giving the current situation, is filling up faster than usual. Now is the time to look at those dates, as Italy is and will always be, one of the most popular destinations in the world.
It is my strong belief that Italy’s drastic measures are the most effective way to contain the spread of the virus and recover from this situation sooner rather than later. Italy’s fast response and ordinance to keep people from gathering in public areas is indeed what will get us out of this quickly.
After speaking with a few friends and colleagues in Italy, as well as my mother, who is in her mid-70’s and lives by herself in Florence, I feel a sense of reassurance that I would like to pass along to all of you.
I feel very proud of the way my country (government, public agencies, medical community, emergency crews, and the entire population) has been handling the containment of Coronavirus.
For those who may not know this, there are reasons why Italy in particular (more so than any other country besides China) has had to put forth such drastic precautionary measures to avoid further spreading of the virus. Here are some:
> Italy has the 2nd largest aging population in the world, after Japan. With the elderly being the most "at risk", should there be a massive number of emergencies coming in at once, the hospitals would be overwhelmed and unable to handle them. Therefore, they are trying to contain the spread in any way possible, even with mandatory shut downs.
> Italy is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Milan has a density of 18,600 people per square mile, Florence is at 9,700 and Rome 5,700 (by comparison, L.A. is at 7,500, Miami 4,700, and 26,400 people per square mile in New York).
These numbers do not include the millions of visitors from around the world who flood the streets and museums of Italy’s main cities each year.
> Italians are passionate people, we love to kiss on both cheeks (men and women), we hug, we touch each other's faces and body parts as affectionate greetings (to the point when most non-Italians find inappropriate). So, for us, having to stand at the government-issued ordinance of a minimum of 3 FEET from each other is like waving from the peaks of two mountains.
> Italians are used to being in close proximity, more so than in any other country. Our cities were built thousands of years ago, back when people were only using their feet as means of transportation, not cars. Therefore, for those who have been there, you know how small and narrow streets are, the city centers are busy and crowded. Because of this, there is much more social interaction (and risk of spreading viruses), so putting these measures in place has been crucial in the efforts to contain it.
> Italians have free healthcare. Which means, more people have been willing to get tested if they showed any flu-like symptom, because they know they can get treated and not have to pay anything out of pocket. When more people got tested, more got diagnosed, and more are being treated. Because of that, there are many more reported cases in Italy than in other countries.
I hope this puts things into a little bit of perspective as far as why Italy is (and had to be) on the forefront of this.
And by the way, Mamma is doing fine in Florence, she's happy and tells everyone not to worry, it'll all be gone soon. She’s just bummed that she’s had to put on hold her daily visits to my 101 year-old Nonna who lives in a nursing home less than two miles away.
As always, we are here for you and will make adjustments to our scheduled tours as the situation develops.
We are in this together and we will get out of this together, so we can go back to enjoying the beautiful lifestyle, food, wine, art, monuments, and breath-taking sites that Italy loves to share with the entire world.