Working from home for six months has been interesting. It feels very safe, and I really appreciate that. It can be quite intense though, with back to back work calls and presentations and my ongoing failure to take proper breaks. Travelling to the UK or Norway was not an option, so a long weekend offline sounded magical. Where to go? I quite fancied Procida (a small island off Naples) but not the multiple public transport steps needed to get there. “Arezzo!” said my husband. Arezzo is in Tuscany, south-east of Florence. We took the train from Rome, then had a half hour walk to a nice quiet agriturismo on the outskirts of town. Our apartment had its own kitchen, so it was easy to maintain physical distancing. It was great.
I was really nervous about the train, but we took the InterCity Rome-Arezzo (a little over 2.5 hours) and went first class to avoid people. We used the “Insieme” offer to get 30% off for groups of 2-5 people. Every other seat was blocked, like the one below, and it was practically empty both ways. Masks are mandatory on the train, which was clean, comfortable and very quiet, and they checked our temperature at Termini in Rome in departure and on return.
We were staying on the outskirts of Arezzo with an easy walk in to see Piazza Grande (so empty!) and the frescoes at Basilica di San Francesco. We had booked tickets in advance online, as access numbers are limited. I did like the COVID-19 sign there.
We had pici with ragu bianco for lunch one day, sitting outside in the shade with a glass of wine, and it was incredibly nice being a tourist in Italy again. There were very few tourists around, but quite busy in the centre as people were out with kids getting clothes and things for school. Most schools in Italy opened 14 September.
Even the rubbish bins in Arezzo were tidy, at least compared to those in Rome. We went to the local PAM supermarket (wearing masks, of course) and bought pecorino-stuffed ravioli, wine, cheese, and food so we could cook do most of our own cooking. Then we just read books by the pool, looking at vineyards and cypresses. It was all very secluded and relaxing.
Balancing caution with mental resilience is something we are all learning, it is not easy. This trip definitely inspired more travel planning, and helped decrease my anxiety about travelling in Italy. I hope you’re able to do some small safe trips in your countries as well.