Typically Italian’s Tony Byrne reports back from a whistle-stop tour to gain first-hand experience and reassure customers and agents
With so much hype and misinformation flying around regarding Italy and how it is coping with Covid-19, I decided it was time to jump on a plane and find out for myself and report back on how I found the situation. My managing director Daniele (Broccoli) and I agreed that our agents and customers needed to be reassured honestly and truthfully about how their holiday experience would be.
I needed to see if our customers could go now and have a great time in safety, access attractions, enter iconic buildings, eat, drink and get around Italy easily, so the route was planned. First a mix of airlines, more than one city and a variety of public transport was required as that would put things into perspective as many customers going to Italy travel on multi-centre itineraries.
My journey began in Venice, arriving at an extremely quiet Marco Polo airport, then on the airport transfer coach to Piazza Roma. Although not as busy as usual, I realised that Venice still has a major pull on tourists, though now from Italy and Europe rather than North America, the Far East and Australia, and not arriving on cruise ships.
As I wandered around the city it was soon clear that actually it’s a great time to be in Italy as you can access everything without the crowds. Restaurants and bars were open as normal and everyone seemed to be on holiday as usual, albeit with some wearing masks. The Italians have adapted so well to their situation, much better than we have in the UK.
My journey continued to Florence using the high-speed Italo train into a station I know well – Santa Maria Novella, which again was quiet but well organised. Missing the crowds again, I was able to get around the main attractions with ease, stopping for a gelato in a city that is known for its high summer temperatures but was now a delight as you hardly queue for anything and the weather was perfect.
A day in Siena or a visit to any of the other medieval Tuscan cities is always a pleasure and this quick trip did not let me down. Siena was busy but not crowded and everyone seemed to have their own space. My final day was to the coastal resort of Viareggio and its wonderful and practically deserted beach, before heading back to Pisa for that ‘must have’ leaning tower shot. Having been to Pisa last summer, the numbers are way down, but believe me the experience was much better this time around.
After a flying visit to five cities using bus, train, tram, vaporetto (water taxi) and monorail, I can honestly say Italy is open and ready for business and you or your customers will have a wonderful time.
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