Italy’s spring lockup, one of the longest and tightest in Europe, provides incredible experiences and photos of the country’s iconic tourist attractions without people. Like it belongs to Italy latest COVID regulations As regional borders close and international travel continues to be restricted, these attractions are once again emptying. The situation is bitter. Many businesses, especially those dependent on tourism, wonder if they will succeed survived the second break. But with the full lockdown not yet enforced, this is a unique opportunity for residents to reclaim the city itself.
Venice Falls Silent
Once a poster girl for over-tourism, the canal city of Venice suddenly becomes the domain of the locals for a few months this spring. Even at the height of summer, continued travel restrictions that prevented tourism from countries like America and China left the city still very different from previous years. Now, the areas of the city that were previously lost to the crowds of tourists are clearing up again.
Roberto Ferronato, chef de rang at historic Caffè Florian, has been observing Venice’s most iconic spot, St Mark’s Square, during these months. As he waited at the cafe table located in the plaza, he had witnessed a tremendous void. “In the city, at the moment there are very few tourists,” Ferronato emphasized.
For residents whose lives in cities were ravaged by overtourism before COVID, this moment must be enjoyed. Where before their sleep would have been disturbed by late night travelers, the city is now silent at night. The narrow alleys of the city that were once impassable thanks to large tour groups are now easy to pass.
But with so many tourism-dependent livelihoods, the city is also suffering terribly. Caffè Florian, a Venetian institution celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, is temporarily closed. Although Corona virus regulations allow bars and restaurants to remain open until 6pm in the Veneto region, Ferronato explained, “We tried to resist but, unfortunately, with the new legal provisions, the company currently doesn’t have the resources to continue.”
While the city desperately needs a respite from the bountiful tourist numbers, the contrast is too stark. But Venice is accustomed to adversity and coping with adverse situations. “We will return prettier and stronger than ever,” said Ferronato excitedly. Florian has been around for a long time, and it will continue!
The Italian capital is also very quiet. Rome-based writer Gillian McGuire said, “A few weeks ago I heard English, French, and Dutch spoken and the sound of a suitcase under my window. Now my neighborhood next to the Forum and Colosseum falls silent as the sun goes down. “The Forum and Colosseum, along with the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon, are some of Rome’s most visited attractions. They can now be enjoyed in relative silence.
In a city where museums and attractions are typically bustling with visitors, this was the ideal time for cultural browsing before a new decision last week forced them to close. “I went to as many museums as I could before they had to close,” said McGuire. “I’m alone in all the museums except the Capitoline where there are maybe about 10 others.”
But as in Venice, the unprecedented museum visits did not offset the economic loss. “The business on my street is struggling and worried about another lockdown,” commented McGuire. As in Venice, bars and restaurants have to close at 18:00 in Rome, consuming a lot of their income.
Florence For Locals
Unlike Venice and Rome, which are located in areas classified as the “yellow” or lowest risk zone, the Tuscany region, home to Florence, becomes the “red” zone on Sundays. Under Italy’s three-tiered system, this means bars and restaurants are closed completely, residents can only move around their town or city for important reasons and cannot travel to other cities in the same region, and regional borders are closed.
Florentines may catch a glimpse of elegant Renaissance town streets and squares when they travel to the office or head to the supermarket, but most of these iconic locations will be empty over the next few weeks.
The residents were unhappy, however, with the status of their area at high risk. Before the latest restrictions were imposed, bar and restaurant owners protested against the iconic Ponte Vecchio asking for more economic support from the government. The total closure of these eateries signals impending economic hardship.