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.
Dogs were exempted from these rules.
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.
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.