137. Here we go again

When we made it home safe and sound in August from our first COVID-era trip to Italy, I breathed a deep sigh of relief and said, “Never, again. I will stay home, safe and sound, until this COVID thing is truly done and dusted.” And yet, barely two monthly later, we find ourselves in L’Aquila, a mountain town in the province of Abruzzo. What gives?

Our arrival ritual cappuccino at the Rome airport

L’Aquila is most famous in America as the site of a devastating earthquake in 2009, killing more than 300. It is said that shoddy modern construction was responsible for this tragedy, and that if California building standards had been employed, there would likely have been no casualties, because the earthquake itself was of only moderate strength. The town is clearly still in the process of rebuilding, with many half-complete projects in the city center.

One of several plaques listing the earthquake victims in the memorial in L’Aquila’s main church

COVID or no-COVID, it is a little odd to be here. Instead of the usual blast of mid-summer heat, we are freezing. I packed for autumn, not 40 degrees of crisp mountain air, and had to pile on everything in my suitcase last night to be comfortable. While we are surrounded by national parks, there appear to be no travelers here, just Abbruzzeses going about their daily life.

I am fascinated by Fascist-era sculpture and architecture

Of course, that daily life includes the passeggiata, that late afternoon Italian ritual where the whole town comes out for a meet and greet in the late afternoon.

L’Aquila’s passeggiata

And the food — the wonderful food. I was eager to try the chitarra pasta, a local specialty named for the guitar-like device on which it is made. It didn’t disappoint.

Chitarra with zucchini, guanciale and saffron

So why are we here? Besides a few days in Venice and Bologna, we have no particular plans, just roaming around the country, stopping wherever fancy suits us, just like we did on our honeymoon 35 years ago. We had some 2019 airline tickets we kept putting off, and we are getting to the point where it feels like it will never be perfectly safe to travel, so why not? Italians are 100% complaint with indoor masking, and we’re triple vaccinated, having our boosters more than two weeks ago. And Italy’s infection rate is less than a fifth of ours, making it feel safer to walk the streets here than in Dallas or Miami. So with fingers crossed, tempting fate once more, here’s hoping we’ll be okay.

I love Italian hotel breakfasts – and I went back for more!

2 thoughts on “137. Here we go again

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