Our Journey to Italy
By Brad Beaty
I am not here to boast or to make anyone envious, but to share the wonderful experience of travel that has been taken away from us all by this tragic pandemic. Giuseppe and I have had the great fortune, and taken some risk, in being some of the first to “eat our own cookie”. That is, we sell travel experiences, so if we do not get believe in taking them now, how can we expect others to trust themselves and their knowledge of how to safely travel. After having safely visited my family in Colorado, we returned home for a few days to work and repack for the next big journey!
We are here on the stunning Amalfi Coast, and I can honestly say that 2020 seems miles away. I believe that many are curious to know what it is like to take an international trip at this time, and I am very happy to share my experiences. First, most will ask, how could I go to Italy with the travel ban? I am a very lucky guy being married to an Italian and American citizen. Immediate family can travel with anyone having an EU passport to the country it was issued. There are very specific and strict rules about this, and paperwork to be done ahead of time, but it was by no means prohibitive. What most people will find prohibitive at this time is that anyone coming to Italy must quarantine for 14 days. Of course, once you see the pictures, you will note that it is not half bad quarantining….in a way, it is what we really wanted and needed.
What struck me as very sad was that Terminal 1 (the main International Airline terminal) at JFK was eerily empty when we checked in. Normally, at the evening rush hour it would be teeming with people boarding flights to Europe and the jets would be lined up 20 deep to reach the runway. Not this time…. we boarded a half full Alitalia fight and took off straight away. I do know that each airline has it’s own policies about spacing, capacity, hygiene, etc., but the two we have now flown, UA and AZ have been very good (although as I have mentioned prior, UA could stand to do better with spacing). Both have sanitizing wipes for all passengers, one can clearly see that more time has been spent cleaning the planes. More importantly, the air is purified more efficiently and effectively. You feel this more on a long-haul flight. Drawbacks…. wearing the mask for an extended period of time is a challenge, particularly if you try to sleep on an overnight flight. We both found that next to impossible. However, I just kept thinking of all of the doctors and nurses who worked countless hours in the same mask for weeks in a row during the peak of the pandemic. What did I have to complain about flying to Italy to see family and vacation? I will say, do not expect normal business class service or food….at all. But, the priority of safety, you can expect, and even more at this brief era.
As you know, the north of Italy was the second center of the Pandemic in the very beginning. That was back in March. Now, in September, it is returning to a new temporary normal. On the Amalfi Coast, people walk outside free of masks…. until 6pm. Indoors, and after 6pm everywhere, they are required, and you will get warned sternly or fined if you do not fully cover your nose and mouth. We are not there yet, as we are still quarantining. It was our impression that the quarantine would be much stricter. We were allowed to rent a car in Rome, drive to our rented villa on the Coast. In reality, we could have stopped anywhere along the way, and no one has every checked on our listed address since we arrived. We were contacted via our local person we left as a main contact, to go to get a Covid test on the 5th day. In true Italian style, it was a bit chaotic when we arrived and the directions, we were given were completely inaccurate…. got to love it! In the end, it took only about 30 minutes. The strange thing was that we were requested to come by car (which we no longer had) and it would be at a drive-thru. Never happened that way at all. We were also told we would be able to get a physical copy of the test for our future travels in the EU…. we shall see how that one goes! In the meantime, we are here working and relaxing in this spectacular place we are calling home to respect the quarantine and keep all safe who we can.