Rome Without Tourists

Castel Sant’Angelo

My return to Rome was less nerve racking than I had expected. There were very few people at both Toronto and Rome airports and my flight was practically empty with rows of empty seats on the plane. I was able to stretch out and sleep during the night which I don’t recall ever being the case since I started travelling between Toronto and Rome.

I came out of quarantine a week ago and have taken a couple of walks in the city centre since then. It’s strange to see Rome so devoid of tourists. On Sunday, I walked across to St. Peter’s Basilica where the piazza was completely empty. It is always full of people on a Sunday as the Pope addresses the people from his window at noon but I guess he has stopped doing that for now. The pedestrian bridge to Castel Sant’Angelo is usually full of vendors, buskers and of course tourists. As you can see above it’s practically empty.

The same at Piazza del Pantheon where there are always line-ups to get into the Pantheon and lots of people sitting around the fountain and at the bars and restaurants. The bars are now advertizing Happy Hours at any time of day in an attempt to draw people in but since there are few tourists about, it’s mostly just Romans. At Piazza Navona, there are usually performers and artists but now there are just one or two to be seen. To my surprise, there was someone taking their dog for a walk across the Piazza which I have never seen before and there is more of a sense of the people who actually live in the centre. Many of the shops and restaurants catering to tourists are closed so the streets are empty. Today, I saw children playing ball in one of the streets usually thronged with tourists. Italy is bound to go into a recession as tourism has been the major source of revenue for quite a few years.

Since cases of Covid are on the rise similar to other European cities, there is now a mandatory mask law in effect and masks are compulsory outdoors. People are good about wearing them but of course you see some people wearing them under their noses or on their chins. The fine for non compliance varies from Eur 400 – 1000 and the Polizia are actually checking and issuing warnings. One of the politicians debated making people wear masks while they were eating in a restaurant only pulling them down to put food into their mouths but replacing them as they chewed. This would have been plain silly and thankfully was not enforced.

The reason for my return to Rome at this time is to clear out my apt and vacate it which is a daunting task but I will have to get it done one way or another. Luckily, the weather is warm and sunny so at least I can go for walks to take a break.

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