135. Travel During the Pandemic

Now that we’re safe and sound in our house in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, I can say it out loud — it was nuts to go overseas during a global pandemic.

In the butcher’s window: “Long Live the Pork Belly! Get the Vaccine; Wear the mask!”

Yes, when we made our plans a few months ago, Italy’s infection rate was heading towards nonexistent. And even now, it is less than a third of the U.S.’s and their vaccination rate is higher, even though we had a head start. Wherever we traveled throughout the country, people respected the virus and their procedures and behavior took it into account. As I noted in a previous post, compliance with indoor mask-wearing was 100%. Even outdoors, many people wore masks, and of those that didn’t, the biggest group seemed to be German tourists up in the Lakes region.

Most buildings had posted occupancy limits, and all entrances had a sanitizer dispenser, which dispensed a proper amount of goo, not like here, where you walk around with drenched and dripping hands for an hour afterwards. We both agreed that the mask we bought at a farmacia was the best we’ve used since this thing started — excellent fit, comfortable ear loops, fun colors — and able to be worn for a whole nine-hour flight without problems.

Careful instructions, seemingly followed by all
Machine in coffee shop for contact-free payment

And being in Italy in the summer allowed us to do nearly everything outdoors. Over the course of a week, we only ate one meal indoors, and there was plenty of space between tables. We avoided going into shops to the extent possible, and avoided even outdoor activities that tend to be crowded, like the weekly street markets that we normally seek out.

While the U.S. hesitates to impose masking and vaccination requirements, the country has a very strict requirement that one must present a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of boarding the plane home. That was a little hairy to navigate: we were in the town of Arezzo on the day we needed the test, and it turned out that many of the pharmacies were booked up, only offered tests on certain days, or, in one case, closed for a month for August vacation.

There were many of these tents around town, but not all were open for business.

But thankfully, we eventually found one, tested negativo, and were good to go.

Getting the nasal-pharynx tampon rapido test

So did we have a wonderful trip? Yes. Is it one we’ll never forget? Yes. But we ran the risk of getting sick in a country where we don’t speak the language or understand the health care system. We ran the risk of testing asymptomatic positive and having to figure out how to quarantine there for fourteen days. So I feel that we dodged a bullet.

In Orvieto: two crazy kids on a lark.

Believe it or not, we have plans to go over again in October, on flights rescheduled long ago when the pandemic first hit. Will we be crazy enough to go again, or have we learned that prudence would be best? Stay tuned.

5 thoughts on “135. Travel During the Pandemic

  1. It’s wonderful that you took this chance to go to Italy for a wonderful vacation. Glad you’re safely home again. 😀


  2. Your ambivalence about returning is completely understandable, but so glad you guys were able to pull this off so successfully. Congrats!


  3. Thanks for the insights! I’m glad they are being so careful there. I have dear friends in Orvieto so I’ll be spending alot of time there. I’m watching the new rules unfold about the green passes and I’m proud of Italy for taking this all so seriously. I only wish Hawaii would be this careful! 🙂


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