The Blog is Back

Trisha Thomas in the intensive care unit at the Casalpalocco COVID-19 hospital in Rome, Nov. 25, 2020. Photo by AP photographer Domenico Stinellis

Dear Blog Readers,

After a hiatus of over a year, I am back, more or less.  The last post I wrote was on March 3rd, 2020, shortly before Italy went into a national lockdown on March 9th.

It is strange to look back at those photos in the last post, Rome in the Time of Coronavirus– tourists in masks at the Vatican and Trevi fountain.    Masks were still a novelty.  I seemed so naive. A few weeks later there were no more tourists at the Trevi Fountain.

To date, Italy has lost over 130,000 lives to Covid-19 and the country, like the rest of the world, is grappling with debates over vaccines and the return to normal habits whether that means going to the office, school, or a movie.

For a year, my colleagues and I at the Associated Press worked non-stop, reporting almost exclusively on the coronavirus and its effects on every aspect of life in Italy.  We suited up in sanitary garb with masks and goggles and made our way into Covid wards and intensive care units to report on the dramatic struggles to save lives on the front lines.

We reported on schools, museums, restaurants, stores, gyms and hairdressers closing, adapting to safety measures, opening and closing again.  We visited nursing homes and plastic hug rooms.  We filmed police blocks, empty beaches, deserted monuments and vacant parks.

We filmed and reported on vaccinations centers and hubs and filmed people lining up to get Pfizer, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca and covered demonstrations by no-vaxers.

Finally, this month things have changed dramatically, Italy is opening up again and work is picking up.  In the first week of September, I traveled to Venice to cover the Film Festival on the Lido, always a spectacularly glamorous event, even in times of Covid.  Of course there were the inevitable Covid rules, a red carpet with the fans kept behind a wall and stars had to get their temperature measured on arrival.

Fans, hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars, gather behind a wall blocking off the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival. Freeze frame of video shot by Trisha Thomas, September 2021
Actress Kristen Stewart gets her temperature measured after stepping off a water taxi on the Lido. She was presenting the film “Spencer” where she plays Princess Diana. Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television cameraman Florent Bajrami

Dogs were exempted from these rules.

This little dog did not have to wear a mask as he waited to get on the red carpet. Freeze frame of video shot by Trisha Thomas, Venice September 2021

Then this past week it was off again on a trip with Pope Francis to Budapest, Hungary for a morning followed by four days in Slovakia.  The Pope, who was in the hospital for ten days in July where he had a part of his colon removed, was in great shape.  I did not see him wear a mask the entire trip while the press corps that followed him did wear them.

Pope Francis speaking to the press on the papal plane returning from Slovakia, September 15, 2021 – Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television cameraman Gianfranco Stara
Selfie with AP Television Cameraman Gianfranco Stara on the plane with Pope Francis going to Budapest. September 12, 2021

I started this blog in 2011 and in 10 years I wrote over 400 blog posts.  It would be impossible for me at this point to continue with that intensity, so I will consider this new blog more of a personal journal, a jumble of notes and photos to recount my Italian tales.

 

 

20 thoughts on “The Blog is Back”

  1. Wellcome back,
    I do like your American point of view.
    As Italian a different perspective has been very useful to understand, sometimes with a smile.
    For the Americans too I think it helped to depict the Italian mindset (clue: there are many).
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Lorenzo. I really appreciate your support. It is hard to find the time and energy to do the blog so nice to know that someone likes to read it.

    1. Susan, thank you so much for your comment. I should have written more about the Budapest-Slovakia trip in this post. It was so interesting. The Pope is in great physical shape. None of us could believe it. The man spent 10 days in the hospital in July, had a chunk of his colon cut out, and he managed to keep a killer schedule on the trip. The press corps was wiped up and he seemed like he was constantly roaring and ready to go. The most interesting event for me was the visit to the Lunik IX district where more than 4,000 Roma people life in total poverty, no running water and electricity. It reminded me of a visit with Benedict XVI to a Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem years ago. He had a fairly long press conference during the relatively short flight back. Unfortunately, he rambles a bit and so there were not that many questions asked.

  2. I cast my positive vote of appreciation with Lorenzo, Trish.
    I am just back in Rome after 14 months away. So glad to be here.
    Bravo for your new start on the blog. We shall be patient.

    Wendy

    1. Thank you, Wendy. I am looking forward to seeing you here in Rome and hearing of your challenges and adventures.

  3. Glad to see you here again… ! And happy to know you are strong and now able to report on matters non-COVID. Dogs on the Red Carpet! Please no one poop on our pop parade!

    1. Hey Tom, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to finally be covering non-covid stories. It took a pandemic to put everything into perspective.

  4. What a joy to wake up and see your post. It’s only 9:40 AM our time, and yet you’ve made my day already! Mille grazie, Trisha!

  5. Welcome back and hurrah for the return of your blog. I have greatly missed it, and am so excited to see it reinstated. Wishing you and your family good luck and especially, good health.
    Mille grazie.
    Jeanne White

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