Italy safer than America during Omicron

January 11, 2022

My family joined me for nine nights in Rome, Bologna, and Milan. We flew over on Christmas night.

Was it crazy to visit Italy at the height of the Omicron surge?  No, absolutely not. Safer than life in Raleigh. Because the Italians have adapted to living large under the coronavirus cloud far better than we Americans have.  After suffering one of the highest death rates (140,000) when the Covid pandemic began in 2020, Italy took serious measures to quell the spread while recognizing the need to keep the country’s economy open and to accommodate its celebrated vibrant lifestyle.

Consider these facts:

  • Italy has a fully vaccinated rate of 75.7% over all age ranges, compared to 57.3% in North Carolina. More than 86% of those 12 and over in Italy have been vaccinated, and some 15% of children aged five to eleven have received their first vaccine.
  • In Italy, everyone must wear a mask inside and outside.  Except in private homes.  With very few exceptions, the vast majority of people we saw in Italy wore masks.  Sadly, the few who didn’t that I overheard speaking tended to be young and American.
  • Entry to Italian public transport and public buildings requires wearing N95 or equivalent masks, not cloth masks. This requirement was uniformly enforced on the trains we rode to Bologna and Milan.  Our CDC is finally warming up to this notion.
  • And, just as most countries do these days, Italy requires a negative Covid test within 72 hours of flying in from overseas.

While the list of hurdles can seem daunting on its face, we were able to comply without much trouble. While in Italy, our experience was the requirements were cheerfully met. Routinely masked and fully vaccinated, Italians are going about their lives with their usual joy and verve. Meanwhile, here in the U.S. plenty of unvaccinated Americans dither, and some of my fellow citizens openly scoff at those of us who wear masks even inside places of business, let alone while outside.

The reward while visiting Italy for adhering to these reasonable and easy rules is to enjoy life again much as before the pandemic!  Something the Italians excel at doing—better even than the French, in my opinion—and effortlessly.  Following are my real-time notes and photos of our first day (December 26th) in Rome, with more to come in ensuing posts.

It’s rainy but warm-ish here in Rome this Sunday afternoon. We checked into the fabulous apartment (above picture) in Largo Argentina: three bedrooms, three full baths, and an eye-popping view directly into the forum where Julius Ceasar was murdered in 44 B.C. (photo below). That’s just like yesterday for Rome.

The pictures don’t do this place justice. It is decadent, fit for royalty. Makes me wonder what we are doing here. We are stunned by its beauty, luxury decor, and premier location.

Off for an espresso in the piazza to keep us awake until our 3:00 PM meal at Enoteca Cul de Sac.

We managed to stay awake despite jetlag to dine at Enoteca Cul de Sac as planned at 300p. The apartment is ideally located, central to everything for walking. It took just seven minutes to get to the enoteca. The photo just above is of the Largo Argentina where Ceasar was killed, looking back at our penthouse flat in the yellowish building on the left. That’s our terrace on the far end.

The photo just above is the Enoteca Cul de Sac. The wine was excellent and the food scrumptious. I had duck ravioli (below). We shared one serving of Cul de Sac’s signature chocolate mousse with whipped cream to cap the dining experience. I sheepishly admit that I didn’t feel much guilt for those we left behind back in the USA.

After stuffing ourselves, we strolled for two hours to walk off the food and wine and to get some exercise after the long plane ride.

First a walk through the beautiful Piazza Navona (above) after leaving Enoteca Cul de Sac. Navona and its famous fountain are mere steps away from Cul de Sac.

Only a five-minute walk from our apartment to the Pantheon, breathtaking any time of the day or night, but particularly haunting at dusk.

Commissioned and built in the first and second centuries A.D., the Pantheon is a masterpiece of design and ancient construction.

Then on to the nearby Column of Marcus Aurelius, completed just before 200 A.D.

From there we strolled along the Via del Corso, Rome’s main Street, admiring the Rome-themed Christmas lights and the big Christmas tree at the well-known “Wedding Cake” memorial to the unification of Italy (built 1885). Ruins of the ancient Roman Forum begin just behind the memorial.

The photo below was taken from the terrace of our apartment looking down into the ruins of the Curia of Pompei where on the Ides of March (March 15) in 44 B.C. Julius Ceasar was stabbed to death, assassinated by Senators bent on restoring the Roman Republic (it didn’t happen; the Republic was dead and followed by Imperial Rome).

Wow, we only arrived at ten this morning, and it looks like we have seen much of Rome already! Guess we can go home now.

Nah, that’s not for another nine days.

One thought on “Italy safer than America during Omicron

  1. Will, I’m sure with Joe’s direction you must have had an enjoyable time in Bella Italia. I haven’t been able to get back to my house in Toscana for almost three years now, how I miss it and the Italians. You were staying in a most interesting part of Rome, so glad y’all had an enjoyable holiday.


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