Travel in Italy during coronavirus epidemic
Are you wondering what travel is like in Italy during the coronavirus pandemic? I went on a weekend trip just before Italy was shut off. And here is what it was like:
Travel to Venice airport
When my plane to Venice took off I counted 23 passengers on board, about an eighth of the plane’s capacity. Upon landing at 6pm I found Venice airport deserted. I’ve never seen an airport that empty during daylight hours. Before we even entered the baggage claim area, everybody’s temperature was taken and a lady with a mask took pictures of the arriving passengers with a phone.
Evening out in Vicenza, Italy
At dinner that night my waiter told me they had removed tables in the restaurant to make sure there was 1m between tables, to prevent patrons from getting sick by somebody sneezing at the next table. The police does checks to make sure these measures are adhered to.
Meeting friends that evening there were no hugs and no kisses. Just elbow bumps. But at least this was when people in Italy were still allowed to go outside.
Public life affected in Trieste
Next day I drove to Trieste, then outside of the danger zone. But still, some bars and restaurants remained closed. The hotel I stayed at closed 4 floors due to low demand. (By now it is closed for business for a month) Hand sanitizer was prominently placed at the front desk. Some employees we were not allowed to go home, see their families in the red zone. At times it felt like there were only two rooms occupied that day.
But young Italians there were still enjoying their Saturday night out at local bars with their friends. In the evening the streets were full of life. That night the news talked of more provinces being added to the red zone and for a moment I thought I’d have to drive through the night because they wouldn’t allow me in in the morning. But when a front desk agent called the hotline to find out, I was reassured that there be would be no trouble getting back. And there wasn’t.
Tourist attractions closed due to coronavirus
Sunday morning I tried to visit the castle and a museum in Gorizia but both were closed. So instead, I drove across the Slovenian border in the same town and had lunch in Slovenia. The border was open, no checks or controls anywhere.
Transport in Italy during lockdown
On the highway on the way back to Verona there were no restrictions and no controls. I just drove through to the train station. At the station nobody paid me any attention, even when I got onto the train to Munich. Leaving Italy by train was as easy as ever before. There were 5 police on board, one with mask, but they only did the usual passport spot checks that have nothing to do with disease control.
At no point during this trip did I feel unsafe or like I was surrounded by sick people. I don’t have any respiratory or flu like symptoms. Italian spring was beautiful even with some tourist attractions closed. However, two days after I left Italy the entire country was under lockdown and movements of residents restricted to essential travel only due to coronavirus. It seems I got out just in time.