Pandemic in Rome

Lockdown

Italy has been in the headlines and the attention of the world is focused on the European country with the most (though not the first) cases of the Covid-19 virus. We have an excellent public health care system and the medical profession moved quickly to extend Coronavirus testing wherever there was suspicion of outbreaks (one of the reasons for the particularly high numbers of positive results). For a country famed for often …

On Overtourism

Yesterday I took a train to a small town outside of Rome to spend the day with my son who recently moved there. Descending, I notice a number of passengers greeted in English by a smiling hostess. “Are you here for the wine tour?” Soon a dozen mostly Americans (a fact gleaned from the “where are you from?” chatter I heard in passing) were following her up into the town. They probably had a great experience and tasted some lovely wines, but it left me reflecting on the problem of “turistificazione”, a term I had just read in an article about airbnb and its effects on our cities.

A Rome away from Rome

On Sunday I went out on my bike with the intention of filling some pages in a little sketchbook, pages that have been empty for too long. Somehow I found myself leaving Italy to enter Vatican City, inside St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time in years. I live less than a mile from Pope Francis but it is rare that I drop in on his little nation. The few …