Italy’s Covid-free islands: The residents watching pandemic from afar


However whereas the virus has struck far and broad, a fortunate few distant places stay coronavirus-free a yr after the virus halted a lot of the world.

Italy, which is in a state of emergency till April 30, was ravaged by the virus final yr and at present has one of many highest loss of life tolls in Europe. The vacation spot is now divided into zones, relying on an infection ranges.

Nevertheless, a handful of its most remoted islands are among the many spots which have saved Covid at bay for now.

An Italian proverb in style with sailors declares “the ocean may be treacherous but it surely can be your best ally.” This appears significantly becoming now, because the water acts as a pure barrier defending a lot of these dwelling on far-flung items of land.

However though dwelling in a secluded location has confirmed to be a blessing for these residing in spots that Covid-19 is but to achieve, coronavirus-related fears have nonetheless reached a lot of them.

So what it is prefer to have the pandemic unfold past the horizon whereas dwelling on Italy’s most remoted and idyllic islands?

Right here various islanders inform CNN Journey how the scenario has impacted their lives and whether or not they’ve managed to stay as calm and serene because the locations they inhabit.


Italy's Covid free islands - A typical village dwelling in Linosa

The residents of volcanic atoll Linosa are fearful that outsiders might unfold the virus right here.

Regione Sicilia

Positioned midway between Sicily and Tunisia within the Mediterranean, this tiny volcanic atoll is off most vacationers’ radar.

Reaching Linosa entails both flying to sister isle Lampedusa’s airport and taking the ferry, or hopping on the ferry at Porto Empedocle on mainland Sicily and embarking on a 12-hour sea journey. However a visit right here is certainly well worth the effort.

Whereas some instances have been reported in Lampedusa, there have been no confirmed instances in Linosa.

From La Pozzolana seashore, which appears like a nook of Mars with its black sand and sulfur-yellow and pink layers, to the extinct crater of Monte Vulcano, the island is crammed with majestic sights.

Linosa is circled by one principal street, lined with prickly pears and low brick partitions adorned with capers. The locals are protecting of their solitude and accustomed to quiet winters.

Fabio Tuccio, one of many 200 residents who reside right here year-round, says issues have remained just about the identical for the reason that pandemic outbreak.

“A lockdown-style state of affairs is common right here this time of yr,” Tuccio tells CNN. “There’s not a lot to do. All the things is shut apart from a grocery store, two bars, a pharmacy, put up workplace. Take away pizza solely on Saturdays.

“It is winter and other people kill time at residence, tending their plots within the countryside or fishing on their small boats for a each day catch to eat with their households. Issues have not actually modified.”

Whereas locals put on masks when assembly household and pals on the bar in entrance of the quiet harbor or outdoors the island’s pink, purple and inexperienced dwellings adorned with brilliant bougainvilleas, the absence of a principal piazza prevents crowding.

There is not any doubt Linosa’s remoteness has helped to maintain the island secure from Covid to this point, however its residents stay fearful that the virus might discover its strategy to this secure haven.

“Islanders are very suspicious of outsiders and protecting of their security, ” Mayor Totò Martello tells CNN Journey.

“Since Linosa has succeeded in staying Covid free, every time a ferry lands they collect on the harbor to look at who disembarks and see if there are any new unknown faces of people that may smuggle within the virus.”

All guests or non-residents are required to take a Covid check on the ferry port earlier than they set foot on the island.

“The ocean shelters from the danger of contagion and other people really feel secure so long as they’re certainly secure, with no optimistic instances round. Concern retains us alert,” Tuccio provides.


Italy's Covid free islands - Tremiti

The islands of the Tremiti archipelago depends closely on tourism, however residents are making ready for higher occasions.

Enit Picture Archive

Though the Tremiti archipelago off Puglia’s coast will get crowded throughout summer season when scuba divers and sunbathers flock in, in winter solely 200 folks reside right here.

That includes emerald-green waters, granite rocks and ragged cliffs, it is easy to see why the 5 islands of this archipelago are often known as the “Pearls of the Adriatic.”

The residents of Tremiti are scattered on the 2 principal isles of San Nicola, with its overhanging monastery, and San Domino. Tremiti’s different three islands are uninhabited.

In keeping with Greek mythology, Diomedes, a former suitor of Helen of Troy, created the archipelago after he threw a handful of stones from the traditional metropolis into the ocean.

At mainland harbor Termoli, which is one hour away by ferry boat, controls are strict. The physique temperatures of any incoming or outgoing vacationers are recorded and their ID playing cards are scrutinized.

The folks right here depend on tourism and recovering this misplaced supply of earnings, together with staying in good well being, has been their principal concern in latest months.

Aside from fishing and rising greens, locals are specializing in getting in form for the upcoming summer season season, which they hope will probably be higher than the final one.

And that does not simply imply flexing muscle mass up the island’s steep killer path, nicknamed “Dying’s Climb.”

These with a enterprise or vacationer exercise are at present sprucing up their retailers, resorts and eating places, in addition to the boats and studio residences they normally lease to vacationers.

Winter is the best time for endeavor upkeep works, in addition to restyling the only a few roads right here.

“Our diving store is at all times open, we’re organizing our guided boat journeys for the spring and look ahead to having vacationers once more when this nightmare will probably be hopefully over,” says Samantha Dionisi of Blu Tremiti diving middle.

In his free time, mayor Antonio Fentini enjoys rising salads, cabbages and Puglia’s conventional cime di rapa turnip greens.

“We’re not fortunate, we have simply been cautious in adopting right anti-Covid guidelines and now we’re following what’s taking place on this planet with nice consideration and hope,” Fentini says.

“We’re wanting to restart once more, to return to the pre-pandemic ‘regular’ and put together the Tremiti for subsequent summer season. We will not wait to welcome vacationers.”


Italy's Covid free islands - Vulcano

The Aeolian island of Vulcano, which is called the “Mouth of Hell.”

Silvia Marchetti

With pristine seashores, translucent waters and beautiful surroundings, these idyllic islands that kind a part of Sicily’s beautiful Aeolian archipelago normally don’t have any drawback luring in vacationers, so the pandemic has dealt them a heavy blow.

Whereas Italy briefly reopened to vacationers in June, the second wave that rocked the European nation in October chased away most vacationers and the gorgeous Aeolian island of Vulcano was left nearly empty.

Since then, locals complain that no vacationers have come to go to this fascinating isle often known as the “Mouth of Hell.”

Vulcano is reported to have had one confirmed Covid-19 case final yr, however has remained freed from the virus in any other case.

“It has been somewhat useless and intensely silent recently. Tourism is our life; most of us work simply throughout the summer season months however we won’t complain,” says Marco Spisso, who co-runs Vulcano’s in style mud bathtub.

“Winters are normally quiet, so on that entrance the pandemic hasn’t revolutionized our lives.”

In keeping with legend, Greek God of fireplace Hephaestus vented his anger over spouse Aphrodite’s betrayals in Vulcano, so it appears becoming that the island is filled with effervescent mud baths with therapeutic scorching springs and underwater sea fumaroles.

It is a spot the place sulfur gases ooze out of black, pink and yellow stone partitions and pavements the place vacationers usually collect to catch the ferry. Tiny warmth clouds may be seen rising from the rocks right here.

The 300 or so individuals who reside in Vulcano all yr are persevering with as regular. They spend their time fishing, strolling, fixing their homes, assembly one another for fast chats (sporting masks) on the native bar and enjoyable at residence.

Shuttered retailers aren’t uncommon for this time of yr, says Spisso, who typically goes for a swim down on the volcanic seashore in entrance of his previous lookout tower residence.

Vulcano has fairly heat temperatures all yr, and the fixed volcanic exercise helps to maintain the ocean water pleasantly delicate.

“We lead a peaceable life, comparatively serene, and we really feel secure in comparison with many different folks dwelling elsewhere,” provides Spisso.

“There are common Covid checks at Milazzo harbor from the place the ferries depart.”

Whereas the island could be very near mainland Sicily, which has been hit laborious by the pandemic, it is nonetheless managed to stay freed from the virus.

Marco Giorgianni, who’s mayor of your entire Aeolian archipelago apart from the island of Salina, enforced stricter Covid guidelines again in October by limiting island-hopping between the seven isles, and this transfer seems to have been profitable.


Italy's Covid free islands - Filicudi

The islanders of Filicudi are grateful to reside in “one other world” throughout these unsure occasions.

Silvia Marchetti

The island of Filicudi, one of many wildest and farthest out among the many Aeolian islands, has additionally finished nicely at preserving Covid at bay.

Ferries typically discover it tough to dock right here because of the tough sea circumstances. Whereas this was a frustration for locals prior to now, the lacking connection is now principally seen as factor.

Islanders really feel fortunate to reside in such seclusion, removed from the chaos and confusion caused by coronavirus.

“It is an unpleasant second for humanity however I’m joyful to reside right here, it is like being in one other world,” says Peppino Taranto, a resident of Filicudi.

“We’re privileged. Social distancing is assured. Because of our heat winter local weather my spouse and I typically take pleasure in having dinner outdoors beneath starry skies.”

Locals can whereas away the hours enjoyable on typical Aeolian-style panoramic terraces fabricated from columns lined with brilliant bougainvilleas and majolica benches with beautiful sea views.

Filicudi has only one fishing village, Pecorini a Mare, linked to the harbor by one dusty street.

The island’s steep donkey trails and stone paths result in brilliant cottages and its black, inexperienced and pink cliffs include labyrinths of grottoes.

Pietro Anastasi, proprietor of panoramic La Canna restaurant and lodge, has lived in Filicudi for many years.

The 85-year-old retired postman lives alone at La Canna, which is now closed.

“Every day I take care of my little tomatoes and engaging perette, a minuscule number of pears that develop solely right here,” says Anastasi.

“When the ocean is calm I stroll all the way down to the seashore and fish my each day catch, little yummy fishes that I fry for lunch.

“I am joyful. That is my world. I at all times have little issues to do and my days are full; I like being alone.”

Anastasi’s household inform him to keep away from watching the information, and he enjoys having the liberty to maneuver round his giant backyard of fig bushes and prickly pears with out having to put on a “masks muzzle,” though he places on a face overlaying to attend Mass.


Italy's Covid free islands - Alicudi

There are not any roads and nil crowds in Alicudi, one of many smallest of Italy’s Aeolian Islands.

Silvia Marchetti

Alicudi, Filicudi’s sister isle, is essentially the most secluded of the Aeolian isles, imbued with a primitive vibe. On this tiny island, Covid is perceived as a really, very distant menace.

Through the summer season, Taranto runs a lodge and restaurant named Ericusa on the island. However like most native institutions, it is at present shut.

Silence guidelines in Alicudi. Neglect automobiles, scooters and even bikes. There are not any roads, solely dusty mule paths that unwind for 25 kilometers. Greater than 10,000 stone steps join the dwellings of this picturesque hamlet.

Donkeys are the only technique of transport on the island. Alicudi has no ATMs, boutiques, golf equipment or cigarette distributors. There is not any avenue lighting, simply the celebrities as pure flashlights at evening.

The island’s pebble seashore is dotted with pure arches and weird colourful homes which can be constructed inside mushroom-shaped rocks.

Alicudi’s older residents take pleasure in spinning spooky tales of flying witches and ghost donkeys.

Aldo Di Nora, who moved to Alicudi years in the past from northern Italy and now runs Casa Ibiscus resort, could be very conscious of how lucky he’s to reside in such a secluded and guarded place.

“Social distancing will not be a problem. The one second when little crowds can kind is when folks meet at Alicudi’s harbor to leap on the ferry boats,” Di Nora says.

“I observe the information of the tragic occasions taking place in Italy and internationally and I’m grateful to be dwelling in such a beautiful place, surrounded by peace and nil danger of contagion.”


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