I live with one
foot in the two worlds of America and Italy, traveling back and forth between
Cortona and Southwest Virginia. It is not an easy life but recently with the
Covid-19 pandemic it has gotten significantly more difficult.
My solace in
staying in America, far from my husband, has been the fact that I could hop on
a plane any time I wanted to come home.
The situation of
the world has changed however and that is no longer the case. I have had to re-evaluate the way I am living
because my options have disappeared.
I was booked on
a flight to Italy in Early June which, for the last 5 months, I doubted I would
be able to take. In fact, I experienced
everything that you never want to experience as far as unforgiving travel
companies, long waits on the phone, actual hang ups by the agents, etc… (don’t
ever book with WOW Fare) and in the end I am still trying to get money back for
a flight that was cancelled and never reissued although I was assured that the
ticket would be arriving in my email box up until the day I was supposed to
Recently, I was
able to find a flight to Italy through a
major airline which was more expensive but I was assured that all rebooking
fees were waived.
In any case I
learned my lesson.
I arrived at the
airport at Dulles and was met with agents who were very respectful but inexperienced
with Italian Permessi di Soggiorno to
the point that they were using Google translate to figure out the writing on
the Visa. I served as translator and customer, pointing out where their errors
were and in the end after a few calls to superiors and photocopies of all of my
paperwork, I was allowed to board a
plane with a stopover in Frankfort in the hopes that the Germans were more
familiar with European visas.
airport was empty up until the time we boarded. No duty free, no Starbucks, no
magazines, no bars. The whole terminal
was served by two restaurants of sorts, but at least there was a source of
water and food. Everyone kept their “Social Distance” easily because there were
so few of us and every few seats were taped off. Every few minutes
announcements were made reminding us of the Covid pandemic and that we should
continue to social distance from one another and to wear a mask the entire time
we were in the airport.
On the plane I
found every other seat was left empty.
Gone are the plush fabric seats replaced by vinyl. There was no choice
of food, everyone got the same, no hot beverages, but all other services seemed
We were told to
keep our masks on during the entire flight save when dinner was served and I
slept most of the way. Upon arrival in Frankfort, I found my way easily to the
next gate although I had seven hours to wait until my flight took off.
flight had been a non-stop but those too are on hold for now. I made it through
security with no problem, the German officials were more familiar with my
Italian visa, thank goodness. The terminal was much like the American airport. Duty free was open but little else.
I found a bakery and had my first coffee since I left America the previous day.
After waiting for literally hours, I finally boarded the plane flying to Rome.
I found the flight only about 1/2 full but our seats were not as separated as
the first flight. I was seated immediately next to another person but there
were rows and rows that were empty so I moved into an empty row.
As we were in
the air, the flight attendants passed out declaration forms for all of us
entering Italy to fill out, which I did, filling in the name and address of
where I would be staying, a phone number and the fact that I understood that I
was to quarantine for two weeks in case I contracted Covid.
I was expecting
hard questions upon entry into Italy or at least that I was to turn in my
declaration and have some kind of tracking. I did not however. I walked through
the exit without a question, found no-one to give my declaration to, and
realized that I was in Italy and my husband was there to meet me and carry me
back to my home.
After all the stress
of traveling with Covid, it seemed much easier than expected.
registered my name on the Regional site for Tuscany announcing that I had arrived
in Tuscany and would be quarantining at home.
In the meantime,
I am enjoying quarantining in my Tuscan house overlooking the Val di Chiana
relaxing and getting over jet lag. There are far worse situations to be in.