Hello, and welcome to the Passion for Italy Travel Podcast. This is Lindsay, from the Tampa, Florida Office.
The past week or so, Italy’s restrictions have finally begun to loosen a little bit. I’m receiving messages from friends and suppliers there saying they are finally able to go for walks again, or inside a church to pray.
It feels like hope.
Our Tuscan wine guide Anna, who we introduced you to a few weeks ago wrote to me ecstatic that she had finally been able to go for a run again in the beautiful Tuscan Springtime.
As you know if you have been following our Podcast, we began this project during an unimaginably difficult time. I feel, though, that this allowed us to highlight the people we cherish, and give you a unique glimpse into the Italian life and culture as we might not have thought to under normal circumstances.
This week, we’re visiting Rome through the words of Carlotta, founder of our Rome Elegant Residence 217 near the Spanish Steps that all our clients and each of us personally adore.
I love her letter, because her joyful personality and the same friendliness we find in the guesthouse come through in her story.
From the first time I visited Italy, and every time after, I always find myself fascinated with doors and keys. Every time I watch a local turn the key and open a big, heavy door, I can’t stop my curiosity for the life that person is living inside that home.
Every ounce of me has always wanted to turn one of those keys and call a city like Rome, home.
During our last visit to Rome, my husband and I stayed Carlotta’s charming guest house and my dream of opening a door to one of these historic Roman homes came true.
What a friendly welcome! Instead of a hotel lobby, we were greeted in a living room and handed our keys, one to the house and one to our room.
Check in here feels a bit like being welcomed into the home of a friend, but a friend with impeccable taste!
We felt welcome from the moment we walked inside.
The rooms themselves are decorated in the family’s own antiques, and art work, and the styles of the antiques meeting a clean, modern design capture the city’s personality.
Davide, our wonderful concierge, introduced us to Ristorante Dilla just a few minutes away. There we enjoyed traditional Roman dinner together with Gemma, PFI’s director who came to Rome to meet us.
For a few days, we felt like we lived here in this gorgeous home just around the corner from the Spanish Steps.
A comfortable, stylish, spacious and quiet room in the evening. One of the nicest showers in Italy to begin our days. The café around the corner for a morning espresso and cornetto. We lived life as a local those few days of staying there.
The obvious word of caution is of course that after a taste of that life, you want it forever.
Understanding the feeling that this slice of life as a local offers to guests, Carlotta and her team have launched other experiences in Sicily, and now also in Milan.
Her letter gives us insight into the Italian culture that cannot be taken down even by lockdown or a pandemic. I smile every time I read it, as I’m sure you will now as you listen to her words.
Dear Lindsay, great to know you are exploring creative ideas! Thanks so much for continuing supporting us.
A little bit more about our life at the time of COVID-19.
My husband Alfio, my children Raffaele (12 years old) and Valentina (9 years old) and I are luckily well, and we have already started the lockdown before the official one from the Government. I strongly believe we should all make as much efforts as we can to contain this pandemic.
Both our properties (in Rome and in Sicily) are by then closed and we work, as well as our children are doing school, from home. We are keeping in touch with family and friends doing Zoom’s video calls.
My parents, who are more than 80 years old, started being technology “experts”, to be able to see their grandchildren! Even Alfio’s birthday has been celebrated with a big strawberry cake (made by Raffaele and Valentina) through a Zoom call, as well as some “Aperitivi” with friends (you know Italians love so much l’aperitivo!). In short, we are trying to keep a bit of normality.
Despite everything, I want to remain optimistic that we all will find ways to get through this pandemic. I’m working these days on the new Milan’s project ……. incredible, considering the time. However, I’ve never felt more determined to overcome the obstacles: the way we’ve pulled together in this crisis has given me deep inspiration and hope.
Finally, my heart goes out to the world’s people that have lost their loved ones, because of the virus. I can only imagine how they have suffered, not even having the opportunity to stay close to their dear, in the last moments of their life.
I send virtual hugs and positive thoughts to each and every one!
Take care, keep safe and stay positive,
Her spirit, as eternal as the city itself, reminds us of all the joys that await us Rome. I long to be there again, to turn the key and open that door again, to feel like I’m going home.
Our last night in the city, we walked through all the piazzas one last time. The Scalinata and Fontana della Barcaccia at Piazza di Spagna. The Pantheon glowing in golden light. The music of the fountains playing alongside street musicians in Piazza Navona broke my heart and at the same time made it whole.
The hardest city to leave, but also the city that welcomes you home to its history and its vibrant life every time you return.
As the restrictions begin to lift in Italy and across the world, we will continue through these podcasts to bring you messages from Italy. Share stories of its places, people and traditions. Let you in on some travel tips, inspiration for your own travels. And, if you leave us a question on our Facebook page, we will be happy to address it during the next episode.
We’ll be back soon, and in the meantime, remember, Andra` tutto bene, it will all be ok.