In mid July, I went and did something crazy… I took a trip Italy.
Italy, as you surely know, had major problems with Covid early on, and it’s pretty much still seen as a no go zone by most. Almost everyone I know cancelled their planned Italian holidays this year.
But when a friend wanted to take me away for my birthday weekend, all we really wanted was to see the ocean, smell the salt and swim in the sea.
We pondered the decision. We were nervous – both about Covid and also potential restrictions that could be imposed at any point and force us to cancel. We could have gone to Slovenia and got a similar experience. But here’s the thing, in Austria and Slovenia, there were pretty much no restrictions in place (apart from very large gatherings), and it seemed like people had become complacent. It was summer, the sun was shining, most were happy to hug and shake hands again, yet there were holiday makers from all over Europe travelling around. So the risk was basically the same, or even worse, when you consider that in Italy there were still restrictions in place. One thing that wearing masks does, is provide a stark reminder of where we were just a few short months back.
So off we went.
We’d specifically chosen not to go to one of the major tourist locations, like Lignano, which is where I tend to go every year with hubby. We picked a spot about 10 minutes’ drive out of Trieste, on a smaller, local stretch of coast. And we upgraded our hotel room to one with a large terrace, which meant that we didn’t have to worry about social distancing on the beach with everyone else.
So we were pretty surprised when we arrived to find the place pretty much deserted. Ok, deserted is going a bit too far, but compared to what it would have been like in mid-July on a normal year, it was very quiet. Sure, there were plenty of people on the boardwalk, and the restaurants were busy in the evenings, but it was very chill.
We had a fabulous two days: we swam in the ocean, ate seafood, took walks and lazed about on our terrace feeling very happy with ourselves. On the way back into Austria we were even bestowed with a free temperature check from some lovely young army boys.
I’ll admit that I was vaguely worried upon my return. There was a sense of shame. What if I had contracted Covid? Wouldn’t it just be fitting? Wouldn’t everyone say I told you so? I did take precautions, staying away from people over the next weeks and wearing a mask in the shops. I also didn’t overly advertise the fact that I’d been to Italy till I’d passed the two week safe period. And when I did, people did raise their eyebrows just a little.
Yet all those who decided not to cancel their Italian holidays, returned saying it was quieter than normal. Whereas Austria seemed to be packed wherever you went. This is great for the local economy, but it does increase the risk of infection from the many European tourists, giving Covid plenty of opportunity to spread.
So while I did travel to Italy we did it in a smart and safe way. And thank goodness because it may be the only chance I get to see the ocean for a while.
And let me tell you I felt a lot safer there than on the crowded subway in Vienna!