A week and a half ago on Italy began the tentative steps to reopen after ten weeks of “lockdown” or “quarantena” due to Covid-19. The Sunday before the restrictions were due to be lifted there was a distinct buzz in the air. Verona was ready to consider the new normal. Couples in masks strolled beside the river, and teenagers took selfies on the Ponte Pietra before queueing 2 metres apart to buy aperitivi in plastic cups to drink as they made their way back home. Even through my mask the smell of jasmin, the scent I most associate with Verona, was heady in the air as the sun began to set.
I was taking an evening passeggiata to soak up the atmosphere for one last time, because as Italy prepared to embrace life outside again I was about to be stuck at home in self isolation for two weeks. Oh the irony.
After ten weeks to the day of being apart we had finally figured out a way to get my husband home. He had flown to the UK the day before lockdown began in Italy to secure a new job, and at the time we naively thought (like many others) that after a couple of weeks he’d be back. He was sensible, he flew back and immediately self-isolated just in case. The day he was due to be in the office and more importantly in the pub after the office, UK lockdown began and the Italian restrictions became stronger. So we were at an impasse. Him there, me here.
The weeks passed, the flights got cancelled, rebooked and cancelled again. We became experts at Skype pizza nights, and Google Hangouts. We binged our favourite TV show, so busy texting classic lines we often missed them. We ordered our wedding wine to be delivered to both places so we could indulge in some comfort “together” and I desperately tried to get the cats to recognise him on screen.
Then suddenly the news came. Italy was lifting some of the restrictions which prevented people travelling between regions, those with not only residency but also domicile would be allowed to attempt to return home. The only flight was to Rome, a five hour drive away. It was booked, the car be booked, an entire folder of documents was scanned, printed in triplicate and the adventure began.
Which is how we found ourselves, one extremely long and stressful Sunday later in the same place for the first time in almost three months. We had gone from not being together at all, to being stuck in a small apartment for 14 days…What could possibly go wrong?
(Don’t worry, I’ve ordered more wine…)